Let’s Go Somewhere Quiet: Sam Levine
Sam Levine is appearing on Let’s Go Somewhere Quiet. But it’s a bit of an atypical sound for Acid Ted. There’s acoustic guitars, New Orleans jazz and lots of clever wordplay. And it’s a postitive track, despite the focus on the collapse of civilisation.
There’s not much by way of biog to fill out his background and his facebook account is willfully obscure. Let’s remedy that with a quick interview.
1. How the devil are you and where are you now?
I have been living in and loving New Orleans, Louisiana for a year now, writing new solo songs and beginning to premiere them at venues around town.
2. You claim the usual family and friends influences. But you also cite Jazz, Metal and Classical. Listening to your work, I can hear the Jazz but what metal and classical influences are there?
I came to listen to and learn about jazz recently, compared to the other genres mentioned, and was studying for a degree in jazz while writing many of the tunes on the Rootless EP. The elements that I see in my music as drawing from classical music are not so much sonic as they are structural; mainly, I admire thoughtfully arranged music with a progression that makes sense for what the song is trying to accomplish emotionally. Metal and hardcore music played a very important role in my life as I was developing musically and what appeals to me about those genres is the primal, raw space that they inhabit. Its easy when you’re concentrating on the craft of a song to lose that visceral element that makes music a shared experience, and I like to keep in mind the intensity of feelings that hardcore shows and records have allowed me to access, even if I try to arrive there in a totally different way sonically. The jazz influence for me is about having an authentic sound and being musically elastic within the arrangement. Meanwhile, I listen to a ton of indie and folk type music, and that’s ultimately the song tradition that I try to participate in and evolve.
3. Rootless – the track on the album – isn’t Acid Ted’s usual dance music. But it has that jumping positivity I envy. How would you describe it?
I think about the collapse of civilization and human extinction occasionally, and this song came out of that. It’s basically a parodic vision of the apocalypse. At the same time, it’s not cynical; it’s about going back to our purest, basest manifestations of love, family, and music. I had a funny idea about a nomadic marching band trekking through the desert while repopulating, beautifying the landscape, and rediscovering joy and hope after a massive tragedy. The sound is sort of a bastardized New Orleans march/street beat, and I think the loose jamming of the band with the added horns has that “found” quality to reflect the lyrical content. It’s basically just an effusive, happy song about stuff that we might typically frame in a very negative way.
4. At one point the lyrics go “writing tunes without computers”. Is that how you write yours?
I don’t use the computer to write songs at all, but I do use it as a tool to record, revise, and arrange. The line really goes back to what I was saying about going back to basics. Being nowhere, with nothing but instruments you make and find limits what you can do but also ensures you’re going to make something authentic. And it’s not about whether you make only electronic or strictly acoustic music, nowadays you can’t write a song without thinking about how it’ll be received and how you’ll promote it on the internet…I’d love to never think about those things, but I do because that’s the landscape. If that lyric is a knock on electronic music, its intended for those who just make music because they have a computer, versus those who use technology as their chosen instrument to fulfill a musical need that’s actually there.
5. Why did you agree to be part of Let’s Go Somewhere Quiet?
I donated this track because I think that this project has wonderful aims. To honor and remember a person through music, and to potentially help others avoid suffering. I came across the post asking for submissions and thought that I had a track that happened to speak to those aims, however indirectly.
6. And, finally, what do you want to achieve with your music?
Every song I write is basically a way to convert any emotion or experience, even a negative one, into something joyful, contained, and permanent. And I want play a ton of shows and hear people singing with me, because that will mean that they have access to that experience, too. I hope that this album will be a way to let some people in to what I do and share some of that.
Sam Levine – Rootless
Check out the rest of the Rootless EP here: