Levitika is an Australian melodic rock singer/songwriter from Adelaide, South Australia, currently working with renowned multi-platinum US music producer Jeff Blue, who has produced hits for artists such as Linkin Park, Korn, Limp Bizkit and other greats!
Her latest project Zombie Barbiehas attracted the attention of Brett Williamson from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), an interview was conducted by Brett with Levitika and aired on ABC radio as well as published on the ABC website. In tern, this caught the attention of Australias popular TV station Channel 7. Today Tonight Channel 7s current affairs television program, requested an interview with Levitika. Paul Makin a Channel 7 veteran journalist carried out the interview with Levitika, aired on Australian TV mid 2015. Levitika has also been a featured artist in Gothic and Amazing Lifestyle Magazine. Now us at UnRated Magazine had a chance to chat with an artist like no other.
How did you come up with your name?
Levitika: I was watching an episode of the TV show community and the charters were playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons, one of them played as an elf with the name Levitika. I thought She said Levitika at first though and I thought Oh, I like that name, I love fantasy, syfy, mythology, etc.; anything a bit geeky really (laughing), I even cosplay! So I, Levitika, would work just great with my personality.
Growing up in Adelaide, South Australia. Tell me about your background. How did you get interested in Music?
Levitika: I grow up in the 90s an error of crazy teen movies, denim overalls, and well damn good rock/grunge music. I still remember listening to Nirvana, old Blink 182, Sum 41 and Linkin Park, I love all of that stuff! These are the bands that really spoke loud to me, the reason I was inspired to create my own music; especially Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park. Although all ared different, I love the energy, passion and feeling I get when listening to these band's music, it's beautiful.
I was brought up in a fairly strict Christian family; I went to a private Christian grade school where everything was a taboo.
I was involved as a young person in religious cult too. My parents and I broke free though, realizing we were brainwashed, it was sick. I went from one extreme to the other when my family and I moved to Scotland. In Scotland I ended up going to one of the roughest grade schools in Aberdeen. I was in shock, I thought,"oh eight years of smoke, taking drugs and carrying weapons." I grew up fast. Middle/High School was even more of an experience for me; St Marcher had a great music program but again I was in one of the worst areas of Aberdeen. I got involved with 'the wrong crowd' at a very young age. I lost my childhood, my innocents, and all by the time I was eleven. I was hanging around with gang members who were 3 to 5 years older than me; I looked like 15 at 11 you see, and got treated accordingly. School wasn't great either, I was mugged once in the corridor, nearly had my right eye stabbed out, but that was kind of my fault. (laughing), because I confronted someone, but hey I respected myself for doing what I thought was right. Respect is a BIG thing for me. I've always been strait; say it as it is, no bullshit, no wasting your time with me. Be strait or be gone. I should be dead really but I'm still alive. With all that, my childhood was pretty good overall. I have a loving family and I came from a good home. All the bad just helped me to open my eyes, it helped me to be more understanding, to see life as it is never clean cut.
I started writing music at ten including both music and lyrics; composing and arranging at thirteen. I was done with my 'teen' years by the time I was thirteen, and over the bullshit. This as well as a being rejected by my first love inspired me to write music, to reach broken people like me, through my music. My main instruments being piano and vocal, however I would write guitar, strings, synth etc. parts on keys and transpose them for other instrumentalists for song construction and arrangement.
Music speaks so loudly to us all so deeply. It doesn't discriminate in whom it choose to present itself too. No matter who you are, where you are from, your culture, race, sexuality, life experience, knowledge, status, some song out there somewhere it will touch your soul.
Music reaches us all; it's an honour to be apart of something so magical, so beautiful, so real, so raw and so incredible. Music has changed me, changed my life in so many ways, and even kept me alive. Now it's my turn to write the words, sing them with passion, conviction, and write the music for me, for my fans, for people because I actually do give a damn. I do. I want myself and fans to get through their day, their life with a knowing that they are not alone and its ok; to feel the way you do, to be yourself, that's what I stand for as a person and as an artist. I want to share my love and passion with those who will be apart of this magic with me, together because I'm worth it, you're worth it and music prevails.
You played clarinet as your first instrument. What other instruments did you learn while growing up? And do you currently play them?
Levitika: Yes, that's right I played clarinet for years and still play sometimes, as it is a beautiful instrument with a lot of soul, presents and atmosphere. However you can't sing and play clarinet at the same time, haha, no joke right? So I decided at thirteen I wanted to learn piano. I love piano; I especially love that you can play both bass and treble at the same time on piano, really creating something a bit more intricate in sound. Aside from clarinet and piano I did do vocal training but much of what I have learnt vocally has tips from other musician, producers, engineers, learning from the best. Also discovering my own body vocally more and more, being open to learning and always bettering myself vocally has been very helpful.
What type of scholarship did you get in music from St. Machers Academy. And how you were an Aussie and the scholarship came from the UK?
Levitika: I lived in the UK for three years when I was growing up as my dad had a three-year contract at the University of Aberdeen as a lecturer and research scientist. I got into a special music scholarship in high school at age 11 when we were there. I started high school or middle school I think you call it in America at 11 and I payed clarinet in the school orchestra.
What was the first band you played with?
Levitika: Rock music has always been in my soul and as a result was always drawn to being apart of rock bands and rock music in general. Though I do enjoy other genres too such as classical, metal and some well-written ballads, even other genres too if the music speaks to my heart.
I played music in high school bands, as well as a band just under my legal first name and then did a lot of solo music, preforming with just the piano and me in public too. I love music, I share my soul when I preform. My last band was still called Levitika, just had different members, they were all great musicians but just didn't have the same drive, or focus as me, which is fine but it was just not compatible. They guys in my band now are very musically compatible and driven, we all share a great energy with one another.
How were you discovered?
Levitika: I got randomly discovered by Barb and Adrian Hannan from The SongStore (produced mixed hits for Taxi Ride, Delta Goodrem, etc), while both holidaying in Halls Gap, Victoria, Australia. Their random encounter occurred when both taking the same walking trail in the Halls Gap holiday park. As they crossed paths Barb looked at me and said,"oh you look like a client of mine, I thought you were her." I will talk to anyone so I said "oh and what do you do?" Barb said "My husband and I are producers" and Levitika said,"that is funny, I am a musician". They liked me and asked for a demo and it went from there really. Jeff Blue, producer of Korn, Linkin Park etc, really like my YouTube video of me singing Spider Acoustic version, he said he loved my voice and wanted to work with me, which was an honour. Also Jeff and I wrote Zombie Barbie together and vibed well. Zombie Barbie is really what has gotten me known. In the small time I have been releasing, since about April 2015 I have grown in a following fast, much of it because of the single and music video Zombie Barbie, which is amazing because I love my fans and love that they love what I do.
What did you like of LA. Are you going to make your base in Australia or some other location? Who are some of the bands you have open up for?
Levitika: I loved the creative atmosphere and people in LA. Everyone looked so interesting and expressive. US will be the band and myself 's base as the US market is much bigger then the Australian market, especially for rock music. I have oped for Sealed our Fate an Australia Metal Core band with my old Levitika band, however as my new band mates and I have just recently formed we have not open as Levitika as of yet but we shall soon, which we are exited for, we will rock it hard as we are all very passionate musicians.
What can you tell me about your new record what is it going to be like?
Levitika: I could die just talking about my new record its very personal for me, very confronting, very real, very raw and very venerable. I want to break the silence of the taboo in my lyrics. Talk about what we fear, what we all think but just never say. I want to speak the truth, say the things we are all are holding back but feel on the back of our tongues. The guys and I are recording three new track at the moment and all of them are so meaningful to me and I feel really show how I analyses the world around me and who I am.
You are getting radio play already. What do the numbers look like?
Levitika: Yes I am getting radio play, however I am not sure about numbers, as I am not reported back too. I am doing a radio US tour soon though; I will know numbers for that.
Are any labels looking at you?
Levitika: Yes. There is label interest. Though I am not the kind of artist that sits around on my ass and expecting labels to make shit happen, I make it happen. I work my ass off because that is what your music deserves.
Did you have anyone special helping you get the record finished?
Levitika: These three new tracks have actually been produced by Rhythm guitarist/producer Max Hurrel and Lead guitarist/producer Greg Oroth. However, the track quality will be no less then Zombie Barbie, Black Rain etc. It will be nothing less then what myself, my band and my audience and myself deserve.
How did you come up with the idea for the video Zombie Barbie? And how did you get your mom into the project?
Levitika: Zombie Barbie, was recorded in the US with producer Jeff Blue. The concept of the Zombie and Barbie together was actually Jeff's idea. I only sing things that I mean; that I believe in and love. I had discussed the idea of the analogy of a gun to our head as that how we so often feel from the external pressures placed upon us.
Although the single Zombie Barbie was recoded in LA the music video was recorded in Adelaide, Australia.
Any plans to tour?
Levitika: Yes, there are plans to tour the US, exact dates and time will be realised soon.
What is the Genre of your music?
Levitika: It is hard to define the genre, as there are so many different influences in the music, however I tend to put it in the 'Alternative'/'Alternative Rock' category. In saying that though different people have a different opinion of how they would define the genre of the music, it also depends on the song somewhat. Although the music is cohesive, some tracks are heavier then others, some more commercial. As long as the music feels real to me and I feel it in my bones and mean it then I feel I am doing the right thing, I believe. It is more about being truth to myself then it is genre as such.
What is your feeling about Vinyl?
Levitika: I understand why technology but I do love the culture and nostalgia of Vinyls.
What are some of the some of the bands which Influences your music?
Levitika: There are so many great artists that have inspired me, though Linkin Park's earlier music such as albums Hybrid Theory and Metora stand out as strong influences. Audio Slave, Marilyn Mason, Pink, Sum 41, Blink 182, Three Days Grace, Limp Bizkit, Foo Fighter, Nivarna and Alarnis Moriset have all been influences for me and I love and respect everyone of these artists.
Where does you music come from?
Levitika: My music comes from the very deepest emotion within, rather that be pain, anger, aggression, sadness, joy, it is all an outward expression of me, who I really am, how I really feel, think and perceive all that is around me. One thing people no about me is, if I say it, I mean it. I am who I am, even if that means I'll be hated for it because I would rather be true to myself and be hated then live as someone I am not for a love that is not even real. My music is all of me, as it is, as real as I can be. I want to scare myself, challenge myself, get out of my own box, my own subconsise thoughts the may be hindering me and need to be addressed, rewire my own brain and continue to keep growing as a person an artist though music, and in showing me and giving fans my heart and soul I like to believe it is an encouragement to them too. To stand together as a community of people, who are just people at the end of the day, as when all is stripped away we are all the same. Take away your money, your status, your fame, your possessions, your race, your gender; who are you, just a person like everyone else. Who wants to be apart of something, who wants to be loved by someone, who wants some kind of scenes of belonging somewhere. My music comes from a core of seeking out the who and what is humanity within all of us, with the focus on dealing with shit in your life and moving forward in who you are and challenging out very own ideals, otherwise how do we grow as people if we just act as sheep.
Who would you like to open up for you? Being alive or dead.
Levitika: I would like to open up for either Halestorm or Slipknot; great live performers are Rammstien. They are just in your face, and not scared to do the taboo, I like that; Limp Bizkit would just be a fun ass stage show and vibe, and I really enjoy their music; The Pretty Reckless: She's hot.... Oh and I like her voice.; Linkin Park they are one of my Childhood dreams; and Halestorm, I think Lzzy really brings female rock 'n' role to life, she is very passionate and I have a lot of respect for her and the band.
What is the biggest crowd you have play for?
Levitika: The biggest crowd I have played for was the Zombie Walk, the crowd was about 20k and there were all Zombies, great times. I got to spit blood.
What fest would you like to play?
What instruments do us on tour vs. the ones you record with in the studio?
Levitika: In the studio I will play keys whereas when preforming live I like to bounce around on stage, engage the crowd and be involved with my fans. A live performance is so important to me, its so important to me that a fan leaves feeling better about their day than when they entered. People remember how you make them feel and it's so important to me that every single person at that show is having a great and memorial time because that what they are there to see and what they deserve to experience.
What direction do you see your music heading in the next 2 years and your long term goals of your music?
Levitika: My long-term goals are to keep working my ass off in my music, focus on touring, writing and releasing new music. I want to keep growing in all that I do, keep learning and bettering myself as an artist and person for my family, friends and fans. Great things are going down this year and I cannot wait.
An big part of you is the Zombie theme. Have you seen the "Walking Dead"? And would you like to play a zombie on the show?
Levitika: Yeah, I have seen "Walking Dead," it's great! I would definitely play a zombie; I often dress up as a zombie for dress up parties and events.
Since Zombies are meat eaters. Are there any type of meat dishes you like to make?
Levitika: I am not the best cook even though, BBQ's are popular in Australia, so I will go with that.
Are you BMI or ASCAP?
Levitika: I am with APRA, the Australian version, however I will need to get with either BMI or ASCAP for US.
What are you listening to now on your mobile?
Levitika: Right now, I have Drowning Pool, Slipknot, Marilyn Mason, Audioslave, Halestorm, Three Days Grace, In This Moment, Sum 41, Offspring, Adele, Eminem, and so many more great bands and artists.
What music do you listens to relax?
Levitika: I love to relax to either movie sound tack music or rock/metal. Some of my favour movie sounds tracks are the Brave Heart, Last Of The Mohicans, Titanic, Last House On The Left sound tracks.
If you could pick any cartoon character who would it be and why?
Levitika: Frankie from Monster High because I love that she is a bit weird and creepy and owns it.
Anything you like to close with?
Levitika: Yes, thank you. I appreciate your time spent to write out all of these great questions and leave you and readers with I hope these answers have given you a better understanding of who I am as an artist and a person as well as my motivation for why I do what I do. I live and breathe music and I will die with it in my veins so you will be seeing a lot more of me and I hope you enjoy!
Interview by Dan Locke, March 2016.