Hi Josh, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I’m good! I haven’t slept much because it’s release week of my EP, but I am hanging in there 🙂
Can you talk to us more about your latest single, “If The World”?
“If the World” was the intro to this era of music; I really love that song. It’s a high energy, heartfelt, question in chaotic times of, “What’s really important? Should it be love?”
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
The initial idea for this song was started the day after Kobe Bryant passed away, and I finished bringing it to life as the world just continued to burn. During these past few months, I was trying to make music and stay creative, but it was hard because I just felt like life was moving too fast and was too overwhelming.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
Quarantine was the creative direction *laughs*. My sister and I decided to transform my room into what it would look like in quarantine during the 80s/90s, which are some of my favorite decades. I printed out posters, got some props, rearranged everything, and pressed record on an iPhone.
The single comes off your new EP Disc One – what’s the story behind the title?
Disc One is the introduction to my story and point of view as an artist! I’ve always loved CDs; growing up, my sister and I used to burn our own CDs with songs we loved and have competitions on who made the better album. I had a hard time naming this collection of music because it said so much, but also felt like it was just the beginning, Disc One felt both nostalgic and futuristic to me, which also reflects the music.
So the title is then a reference to the fact that we might expect a few other “installments”?
That is correct, there may or may not be a second installment that follows behind the first 🙂
Did you approach this as a conceptual record?
It’s funny, I don’t think I approached this as a conceptual record, but that’s what it unconsciously became. I really didn’t even set out to create a project and then I looked up one day and had a body of work that felt like a world and more like me than anything I’ve ever created or put out. In hindsight, it 100 percent became a conceptual record, and I’m so excited to visually articulate that.
How was the recording and writing process?
It was so special because it was so organic and not forced. There were days where I brought into ideas and things that I loved, and there were days where I came in with an open heart and nothing on my mind. There are also songs on this EP that I made very recently, and songs I made last year, so it feels so broad!
How would you say your background as an actor influenced your music, and the other way around?
When I make music I picture myself in a movie scene that’s in a film on what I’m writing about, and I think my acting experiences help my imagination as a writer. If I choose not to write about a personal experience, I’m able to channel an emotion or feeling that could still tell a story. Music also puts me further in touch with my emotions which benefits my acting in a huge way.
Does having such a large audience backing you up put pressure on you as you work on new material, or rather the opposite?
I’m not sure if that’s what I allow to put pressure on me, or if I’m putting all the pressure on myself—it might be a combination of both. I think my standards are already so high that it sometimes outweighs anyone else’s standards for me, but yes, I definitely keep the eyes/ears on me in mind when creating anything new. But also sometimes I don’t care, it depends 🙂
What aspect of today’s society did you get to explore on this record?
I think barrier breaking was a big theme for me for this record. I wanted to tap into the rebellion and honesty of a few conversations, even if it was a little controversial or broke the rules. I posed a lot of questions on this EP, as well as a few thought-provoking statements concerning today’s society. There’s a record on the EP where I specifically address what it’s like as a black man navigating through today’s world.
Speaking of which, did the current state of the world with COVID influence the writing on this album?
It did! Even though I wrote a few songs before COVID, in putting together Disc One, I realized that a lot of what I write addresses real life—so it felt authentic. I write about real life most of the time.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Some inspiration came from personal experiences, and others came from things people have asked me. For example, there’s a song called “Don’t They” on my EP, and it was inspired by a big artist listening to my music and asking me if I had any love songs. When I was asked that, I started asking myself, “do people still make love songs, is that a thing?” I also felt like there was a lack of love/romance in music conversations in general in today’s society. So, I gave a go at my version of a love song and talked about that in the record.
Any plans to hit the road?
I’m actually most excited to hit the road! I was getting ready to announce a big tour that I was going to be a part of before COVID caused everything to be shut down. The moment I’m able to get back on stage, I will be traveling and performing this entire EP and that’s what I look forward to most.
What else is happening next in Josh Levi’s world?
It’s hard to predict anything anymore, but I definitely have music videos planned, touring, if the world stops burning…Until then, I’m putting together a live performance experience that will take people through my whole EP; I’m really excited about.