Levy first came into our lives at Indie Top 39 when we heard her exquisitely beautiful debut EP, Small Scale Revolutions. A scintillating mix of jazz-infused, neo-soul hits. With each song on the record representing a different time in Levy’s life, the musician says that the “record feels like an accumulation of experiences from the past few years.” We were over the moon when she agreed to an interview to share her thoughts on the lockdown, the music industry, and a personal issue that inspired the title track of her EP. Please enjoy our interview with the super talented Levy.
So, as previously mentioned, we’re still in love with your debut EP and I’m wondering if you could tell us a bit about your musical journey and how you “landed up here” so to speak?
As cliche as it sounds, I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember.Levy
I started out with a classical vocal education, dipped my toe in musical theater and eventually realised that writing my own music was the most fulfilling thing to me. So I moved to London to study Popular Music Performance at BIMM London, which introduced me to my band – and now I’m here!
I know that you released ‘Seeing Red’ and ‘Melody’ as singles before the full EP release. How did you decide on those two tracks as singles? I imagine it’s quite an arduous task.
It definitely was! I always had planned to release Seeing Red as a single, but to be sure, I asked my band and family which songs stuck out to them as potential singles, and Seeing Red was at the top of everyone’s list. Melody was important for me to release because I hadn’t released a ballad yet and I felt it showed a different colour to my music.
“I am and always have been a planner, but you’re so unpredictable, I wanna speak… I stammer, and my poker face is laughable.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up with those lyrics in my head. Tell us more.
I’m flattered they stuck with you! That song, Restless, honestly just flowed out of me when I was writing it. It stemmed from me being positively overwhelmed by my feelings and having to write about it. It’s basically a documentation of my thoughts going from “this is a lot, it doesn’t make sense” to “this is a lot, and I’m all in.”
Small Scale Revolutions is such an eclectic and multifaceted EP. It’s soulful, jazzy, a little rocky at times – it just has everything. How would you best describe your sound?
I always say that my roots are in pop-rock and I divert from there.Levy
I’d love to keep experimenting with different genres as I think that each one has their own advantages. Plus, it keeps the writing process exciting!
It seems like, certainly musically, you made the most of the lockdown, but everyone’s experience was and still is different. How did the world shutting down affect you?
I’m a naturally paranoid person, so it had a massive effect on me. It definitely brought good things, like moving in with my partner and space to write songs that would have never existed without the pandemic. But it also confronted me with a lot of insecurities I never really dealt with, particularly regarding what I want from my future. As I say in Restless, I truly am a planner, and not being able to plan my future weeks and months and now even years felt at times quite stressful.
We love hearing about different artists’ creative processes and how they turn an idea into a finished article. Could you tell us a bit about yours?
I’m all about lyrics. I must have compared writing with journaling a thousand times, but it’s the most accurate; everything I’ve ever thought about will eventually make it into a song. So I start out with a full set of lyrics and then sit down on the piano to find a melody and chords, and once I’ve got the basics established, I forward the track to my band and they work their magic. My songs would not nearly be as polished if it wasn’t for this group of amazing musicians.
I came across your “In The Making” video series on YouTube. The recording sessions looked like so much fun and you all seem to have such great chemistry. Are there any stories that stick out for you that took place during the recording process?
On the last recording day, my guitarist and I baked a cake which we brought into the studio to celebrate finishing this step of the process. That was quite a lovely end to the studio days.
I know that the EP’s title track, ‘Small Scale Revolutions,’ was inspired by your own struggles with an eating disorder. If you’re comfortable, could you talk a little bit more about that experience?
I’m always a bit hesitant to call it an eating disorder and prefer to call it disordered eating. Which, I guess, some people might say is the same thing. But I think I just about skirted the worst of it. Basically, I struggle with binge eating; not nearly as much as I did a few years ago, but on bad days, it’s still in the back of my head. It just became a coping mechanism when I was feeling out of place and unfulfilled.
The more I found my direction in life, and the more I learned not to base my self-worth on my weight, the better I learned to deal with it.Levy
Your cover of Ellie Goulding’s ‘Slow Grenade’ is spectacular. Who would you list as major influences in your musical career?
Thank you so much! It was a lot of fun to record. My influences vary constantly; at the moment it’s Ella Fitzgerald, Maggie Rogers and Emily King.
When you’re not creating music, what keeps you busy?
Reading, baking, puzzling and movies. Extremely high-stakes interests, I know! I’ve also been practicing my writing skills, not just for songs, but essays, reviews, short stories etc.
What are your thoughts regarding the music industry as a whole and, if you were able to, what changes would you make to it?
Complex question. The biggest problem to me is the lack of revenue through streaming.
It’s virtually impossible to make a living as an independent artist without striving for some level of fame, which is not what everyone wants to do – nor is it always doable.Levy
Of course you shouldn’t just focus on the numbers, but it does feel a bit anticlimactic if, after months of hard work, you get maybe a few thousand streams and barely enough royalties to cover food shopping. It makes it very hard to sustain this career, especially since the live music industry is still not completely back to pre-covid.
What does success look like to you?
Being happy with the life you’re leading and the person you’re becoming.
If you were given the opportunity to collaborate with one musician or band, who would you choose and why?
Maybe Emily King? Her vocal arrangements in particular are absolutely amazing to me, so I’d love to create something with her.
What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully a lot more music, a lot more writing and good food. There are a few loose projects floating in my head, so I’m working on turning them into something concrete.
Introducing » Artists We Interviewed