LO-FI LE-VI Talks Bedroom Pop and His Influences
Bedroom pop producer LO-FI LE-VI has released his first project, SELF-TITLED, and he spoke to TIDAL about the artists who have inspired him, the idea of “bedroom pop” and the conditions of creating.
Where did your relationship with listening to and making music begin?
I’ve been playing guitar since I was really young. My dad really inspired me to pick up the guitar. I knew I wanted to be a musician, but I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do. Tyler, the Creator, N.E.R.D., The Internet, Steve Lacy, Frank Ocean and Mac Demarco really inspired me. They showed me how I wanted to approach the music I made. I never knew what kind of music I wanted to make. I couldn’t figure out if I wanted to make indie rock, punk, whatever it may be.
What was it about artists like Mac Demarco that inspired you and made what you wanted to do a little clearer?
I love how he did it himself. His albums 2 and Salad Days taught me a lot. His approach to recording and writing it all himself in his bedroom showed me that I could do it and make it on my own time at home. You don’t need a big, fancy studio to make cool music. It taught me to get it started on my own.
The music you make and how it sounds and is received pushes into this classification of “bedroom pop,” which really centers around these genre-bending, self-produced, intimate recordings. What do you make of the rise of this subgenre and how does your process reflect that?
I think it’s cool, of course. To not have to rely on a record label and to not have to be the best singer ever is beneficial. If you have a knack for writing songs and writing melodies, you can craft a certain sound that cannot be replicated outside of a bedroom. I think it’s great.
I kind of approach writing like a rapper. I’ll make the entire instrumental first often. I don’t know how to write music, so I do it all by ear. I’ll gear the vocal melodies and lyrics towards the instrumental.
I get writer’s block pretty bad, but once there is a start, I can usually get an end out of it. I went on a walk and was listening to music. I wrote down bits of lyrics and random things, went home and things to start to fit with the lyrics, so I wrote the rest of the song from there. That was the song “SWEATER,” that’s really the only song I remember specifically writing. All of the other songs have individual paths to how they were made, they all just come together.
Do you find the conditions of how you make music as a liberating or restricting?
I wouldn’t say it is liberating. The process of writing songs can be very frustrating sometimes, you can kind of get angry, but working through it is a really satisfying and fulfilling feeling. Being so attached to the melodies and not being able to stack the melodies or get the guitar line to a place where you want it to be is very frustrating.
The EP you have out now, SELF-TITLED, is a collection of music previously released, but never put together before, yet it flows together remarkably well. How did you go about arranging the tracks on this collection and what do you hope people take from the music?
None of it was intended to be a part of an album. I think of it more as a mixtape, where I think of every song as a single. I wanted to make a compilation of songs, really. I did try to make it sound like an album and reflect how I play live. I think I did a good job at making it sound like an album.
The music all circles around the idea of not being able to have someone. They are happy songs, but there is a sadness in there. Anything anyone can relate to in the song and enjoy the sounds is what I aim for.
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