Levi Evans: “High energy, catchy melodies, and a good time”

By Remi Rivard

It’s 5 p.m. in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Aug. 27, where I meet on-the-rise artist Levi Evans at the Homewood Suites to escape the city’s inevitable overcast weather. As I approached his room, Evans greeted me, sporting a self-designed cap featuring one of his original drawings and a distinct Irish-American blended accent. The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter began touring with Little Image just a few days prior and divulges that he has a two-drink cap to curb the post-show adrenaline.

Son of U2 guitarist David Evans (The Edge), Levi Evans grew up in a musical family that fostered his creative interests at an early age. While he dabbled in guitar, piano, trumpet, and drums growing up, animation was his primary passion until a friend introduced him to 90s hip-hop music when he was 16. This newfound obsession shaped Evans’ earliest work, centered around hip-hop production and rapping, and inspired him to pursue music professionally.

With multiple singles and music videos released this year, including “Talk About It,” “Chronic,” and “So Happy,” and an EP on the way, Evans has solidified his place as an emerging force in the indie sphere. I spoke with Evans before his sound check at DC9 Nightclub about his journey into music, tour life, and exclusive insight into his upcoming EP. 

Remi Rivard: You grew up moving around a bit, living in New York, Dublin, and L.A. during your adolescence. Do you like being on the road, or are you more of a homebody?

Levi Evans: I think now I’ve sort of– I do like being at home a lot. I think I’m quite an introvert. So, actually, I do find myself quiet, alone, just working most of the time. You never really get used to traveling, at least from my experience. I think I have traveled a lot my whole life, so now I like being in one space, you know? So I find the last couple of years, like when summer rolls around, I kind of want to be home working. But there’s something about, especially being on tour now, something about being on the road that is actually familiar just because I have been sort of traveling my whole life. So yeah, I’m not sure if you get used to it, but you adapt.

RR: I know that your earlier material was centered more on hip-hop production, and you even mentioned that you rapped. Do these styles have any influence on your current, more alternative sound?

LE: I think so because of the AB sort of format of a lot of pop music where it’s like, you have your verse and your chorus. I feel like with a lot of rap music you didn’t really have it– you have your verse and your chorus, but you don’t have the same melody. So I think you have just different rhymes and stuff within your verses. When I switched to singing I kind of still followed that sort of thing where I didn’t have a set melody for my verses, but it was more like something new. So then it wasn’t until recently that I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you can just use the same melody in your first verse and your second verse.’ I guess the song structure, and just like the melody composition, is kind of still how the old hip-hop still affects my music now.

RR: Yeah, that makes sense. Adding on to your writing style: How do you go about writing music and recording songs as a solo project? I know you perform with a band live on stage, but do you play all the instruments during this step in the creative process? Do you have a band come in and record with you?

LE: Yeah so usually I produce a lot of stuff myself now. With this EP that is coming out I have worked with a bunch of different producers because I always think two heads are better than one. I love bouncing ideas off different people and also I tend to get in my own head. A lot of artists do and it can be quite tortuous. So I feel when I’m in the room with somebody I don’t overthink so it’s great. And that way we get a lot done, so it’s really great. But yeah, when it comes to my band, me and my band, usually I have all the parts already recorded. Either I’ve recorded most of them, or I’ve been working with a producer. And then we sort of just figure it out– I assigned parts to them or let them do their little thing here and there.

Levi Evans and bandmate Huebline at DC9 Nightclub (photos by Remi Rivard)

RR: I definitely relate to overthinking, so I always say two heads are better than one. Are there any dream artists or bands that you would love to collaborate with in the future?

LE: That’s hard. That is, that’s really a hard one. I mean, I really enjoy Tame Impala’s stuff; he’s really great. I know he’s done some stuff with Thundercat recently. Gorillaz. I know that they always have a bunch of featured artists. Demon Days is a pretty important album for me. I remember I was on a road trip when I was like five and that was the CD and I was just like, ‘Woah, this is crazy!’ So yeah, I think those two artists would be really cool. I guess some newer artists like Dominic Fike; I really like his stuff. But yeah, I think those are the artists that come to mind.

RR: Cool! Those are all great options, for sure. You’re on tour right now with Little Image, which is very exciting. For people who haven’t been to one of your shows before, what can they expect? What is your show like?

LE: Well, I like to think my show is authentic to me. I mean, this is my first tour so I still feel like a baby, you know? But we’re killing it, man and it feels really good. You can expect high energy, catchy melodies, and a good time.

RR: Is there anything unexpected or surprising about touring you’ve noticed over the past few days?

LE: Nothing too crazy, I think. This is going to be our fourth show, I believe. Yeah it’s been pretty mellow so far. I haven’t been– I’m not super fatigued yet– trying to get my sleep. I’ve been having a hard time getting to sleep after the show because you have all this adrenaline and I’m trying to stay away from alcohol, for the most part. I have a two-drink cap just to curb the adrenaline. But yeah, I guess the thing that surprised me most is, and it’s not that surprising, but we get back after the show and it’s about 12:00 PM, midnight and then I’m just in bed like ‘Can’t sleep!’ [laughs] Yeah, that’s probably the most difficult part so far.

RR: What is one song that you wish that you wrote so that you could play it on tour all the time?

LE: Whoa, whoa, that’s crazy! Oh man. That’s like, oh, that’s a deep question, that’s a hard question. I’d say– I’ll tell you what, a song that I’m really, I said this in this other interview, where it’s a song that I’m obsessed with right now. It’s Sticky Fingers; they have an acoustic song called “Cyclone,” and it’s just two dudes with a guitar, but it’s just so good. I mean, it’s just the songwriting is so good, and it’s a really amazing piece of work. So I’m jealous. Yeah, for sure.

RR: I have to look that up; I haven’t heard of that one! I heard that you have an EP coming out soon, congratulations. Do you foresee any song in particular on the EP connecting the most with your fans?

LE: Yeah, I think “Complicated” is going to be sort of the focus track. I really love that song. And then one of the singles that is already out, “Chronic” is, I think, one of my favorite songs I’ve ever made. So I think those two. You never know, you just never know as an artist. You could think that one song is like, ‘Oh, this is the one!’ and then all of a sudden, people like this other one which is cool. But yeah, I definitely think my choices, my top picks for the EP, are going to be “Chronic” and “Complicated”.

RR: Definitely. Would you say that “Chronic” or “Complicated” connects the most with you?

LE: Yeah, I think I’d say “Chronic” probably feels a little more. Because when I wrote “Chronic,” I didn’t think about it when I was writing it. I didn’t because a lot of the time when I write music, I’m not really thinking about what the words mean a lot of the time. It wasn’t until after I’d written the song that I was like, ‘Woah!’ It was a very specific time in my life where I was, I think, coming of age and I had talked about the false sense of invincibility we have before we’re hit with the harsh reality of our responsibilities and stuff. So that song very much encapsulated that time in my life where it was just kind of like, ‘Fuck you.’ I was very rebellious in that part of my life and very kind of immature, for lack of a better term. ‘Juvenile’ is the word I was going for. I think after writing it, I was like, ‘Whoa, I remember that time.’ And it kind of, even though it was difficult or hard, it kind of shaped the person I was and who I am now.

RR: So far, we’ve heard “So Happy,” “Chronic,” and “Talk About It.” What were you consuming artistically as you were writing this project?

LE: Oh, man, I was in a bubble. I wasn’t listening to much really. Because one thing, when I am in the creative process, I actually tend not to listen to a lot of stuff because I compare like a lot with myself and then the overthinking happens, and ‘nothing’s ever good enough’ happens. So I tend to kind of just become a hermit and go writing. But I guess I was listening to Tame Impala’s live stuff because he released a live album; it was on Spotify. It’s the live versions, and I don’t know where; I think it was Chicago where he played. But because I was thinking more of my live set and where I wanted it to be, when writing those songs, I wanted to have that energy because before, I had songs like “Faith” and even “Back In My Head Again” and “Catch Me” were like more mellow, kind of acoustic, sort of stuff. So I was thinking about the live shows and what’s really going to do well live. So that was definitely kind of the only box I put myself in when writing those songs, was just like, we want more energy.

RR: That’s a great live album. I’ve watched the music videos for the songs and really liked the playfulness of “Talk About It.” Could you walk me through how that video came into existence? 

LE: Totally. So yeah, the video “Talk About It.” The song, when I was writing it, again, was like after I’d written, and I was kind of putting meaning to it. And it was kind of– the two meanings I got from it were: ‘Okay,’ it’s either someone in sort of a relationship thing where it’s like a couple arguing, but then also it’s like, how polarized we are as a country and also as a world, the two different sides and how it’s hard. I think communication is something that’s really important if we’re going to get anything done. So, with that in mind I was thinking, ‘Okay, how can we portray that in kind of a lighter way?’ So I thought, ‘Okay, let’s do a sports day. Let’s just have two teams and let’s have fun with it.’

RR: It was really fun to watch. Outside of music, drawing is another one of your artistic passions. Could we expect to see these passions intersect more in the future?

LE: Yeah for sure. I mean, all my merch– I drew all my stuff. And definitely I want to incorporate, especially with the EP and all that, cover art and hopefully with some music videos and, hopefully, the live stuff. Really the live shows, having visuals with my art, would be kind of a dream.

RR: I also noticed your tattoos– they’re really cool! Do you have a favorite tattoo?

LE: I think this one because this one on my arm here, it’s also kind of on this hat, it’s kind of rebirth, and the circle of life in a way. It kind of marked me getting through a very difficult time in my life. So it’s a good reminder that I kind of got through that.

RR: That’s great. Did you draw that?

LE: Yeah, I drew all my tattoos except for one.

Levi Evans’ self-drawn favorite tattoo

RR: Awesome! What color do you think would best represent your EP?

LE: Oh, that’s good too! Can I say like a bunch, just like all the colors? [laughs] Because yeah, I think just everything. I feel like it just kind of goes and there are so many different things that I feel like it represents for me; I can’t really put just one color on it. I think it’s just like an array.

Catch Levi Evans on tour with Little Image until September 28th.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *