[INTERVIEW] LEVELLE LONDON
Cold Summer Nights is the musical artistry of London based artist Levelle London. In his new project Levelle brings a mood and vibe for many emotional states whether positive or negative. Viper sat down with Levelle to learn about the talent behind the R&B artist unapologetically bringing out the realms of his personality through his sounds.
(Levelle wears Two Piece Denim set by Levis)
So we’ve listened to a range of music today whilst shooting, talk to me about your taste in music at the moment? What are you listening to album wise or what is on repeat constantly?
My taste in music ranges from Hip Hop, U.K music like Afroswing, Afrobeats as well. R&B is where I started. I still love a bit of Grime. I don’t listen to it as much as I do now but I genuinely keep my ears to the streets and keep myself updated with more U.K music at the moment and I like listening to albums. Any album that comes up in 5 hip hop charts or anything like that. I’m always playing it on replay for the first couple of weeks.
Back to Levelle, lets look into your career. Talk to me about how you started getting into music and how you’ve arrived at the point where you are today?
I started getting into music via the streets and then school. We used to spit bars and everyone used to write, teach each other to write, whatever it as but the culture was grime. We all took part including me and I was quite popular in school because of it. I then decided to do some Summer courses where I met a producer called Kayze and he actually was more impressed with my singing. So I met him and then made my first singing song. That was in 2007 and from then I just networked. I’ve done open mic shows. I’ve been booked for shows. I’ve built my fan base and my support system. I’ve built a team and I’ve carried on to this point.
(Levelle wears Jeans by Levis, Top by Barbour and Gilet by Uniqlo)
You mentioned about being around a lot tot things around you but not being directly involved. How has that influenced your lyrical content?
My environment has always been a big part of my life but I have not let it totally consume me. I’ve had different friends from different places that have been into different things. I’ve always made sure that music was my main focus. I realised that it was a gift and I didn’t wanna take it lightly. Through everything I’ve been through, I’ve always made sure that music was my main thing so it wasn’t always but more or less easy to me to write about what I see as well as what I experienced. I didn’t let what I saw affect me in a negative way. I’d always turn things into a positive so that’s where I start speaking into my brand in positive energy and those were the type of things that influenced it.
Have you worked with multiple producers in the past? Are there any producers that you would like to work with?
The type of producers that I would like to work with are people like Timberland. Even as someone who self produces, he’s a very big influence to me. I’d like to work with some U.K producers like Steel Banglez. I’d like to work with Pharrell. I feel like he makes timeless music. He keeps his sound very unique. I know there’s more but definitely Timberland.
(Levelle wears Sweatshirt by Champion, Gilet by Barbour and Bottoms and Trainers by Nike.)
What do you think of the idea of being a musician now? It seems like artists such as Kanye are getting a lot of feedback (both positive and negative) for digressing into new genres following possible reinventions. What is your take on this?
I feel like Kanye West represents an important type of person in this world because a lot of people relate to Kanye West more than others think. He doesn’t wanna limit himself to one thing, multitalented whether he’s creative in fashion or music and I think that he’s very much unapologetically human. I feel like he’s misunderstood. I’m not gonna pretend that there are things that he said that he could have said much better to be understood but I also think that he’s had an extremely large influence on the culture of music whether it’s fashion or it’s the the type of music that people make. I remember him saying that Hip Hop is gonna turn to rock. I remember he said that years ago and it wasn’t understood. Now there is a rock the culture in Hip Hop. That’s just one example. I definitely respect him and I think that he’s just a but misunderstood. As an artist as well I can feel like that myself because I’m multitalented or I’m diverse in my sound. I can do different types of genres. Some people expect me to stay in one box but I don’t feel like limitation is needed when it comes to art.
Are you heavily involved with the creative direction of your music with regards to music videos and how the finished product as a package is presented?
To be honest I’m not as creative when it comes to my visual part side of my music as I was before when I was younger. I feel like now I respect creative directors so much because they know how to bing something to life. I also respect artists that do that themselves. I’ve got directors that I’ve worked with over the years. Ezekiel, 4ELEVN from Global Before Local, J Money and these are people that I have worked on my favourite songs out of my last two projects visually. I have certain preferences in a certain type of look but I’m quite simple at the same time. I don’t really have problems with it. I kind of shy away from visuals at the same time.
I know one of your music videos was shot in Poland? How would you describe that process?
I had a friend that was working in Poland. I had a song called ‘White Lies’. I just had this light bulb in my head that made me say yo we need to go to Poland and shoot a video because it was snowing and it just fit the mood. It just felt right in my instinct. We flew over there. It was like £39 for the flights then we ended up getting an apartment. It was very cheap and we flew the equipment over there as well. I was there to shoot the White Lies video and we actually made a whole other song in one day and we went out spontaneously shot a video. That ones called Polski and we did that all in one day. It was freezing cold but at the same time it was an experience that really added to me as an artist and it made me learn how to think on my feet, get creative on the spot and just push me past my limit and make me grow as an artist.
So I know you’re releasing a project on the 8th. Tell me some more about this? Who would you say your music appeals to the most?
This project represents a lighter side of me. The side that wants to have fun that wants to be cheeky, that likes the sunshine, that comes from Ghana, that comes from Jamaica, that likes women and I feel like it’s a good vibe. I feel like there’s a bit of everything on the tape in terms of sound and in terms of mood. You can play it in the sunshine, you can play it at night and it can definitely give you a good vibe so that’s what Cold Summer Nights is about. I feel like just based on my stats I’ve got a split audience. Equally men and women. Mostly from 18 plus because I will say that my lyrics at quite mature. That’s what I want to be honest. As much as I’m a singer and we want to appeal to the ladies, I also have some real stuff and I also express my self a lot which a lot of men don’t so I find peace in being a voice for the mandem too.
(Levelle wears Hat and Gilet by Schott NYC and Jumper by Fila.)
What does the future look like for Levelle London?
The future looks like what I’m doing right now cos that’s all that exists.
Interview, Photography and Styling by Rachel Abebrese.