Magnetic West: Can you give an example of how music or sound has triggered an emotion in your life?
Levick: For me, sound and emotion is more of a music thing, and as you get older you know you get a little more detached from your emotions or I guess you learn to control them and not be slave to them - they go too far…but, I would say that music used to be a very emotional experience for me. I used to be able to put on Angie by the Stones or Bowie’s Diamond Dogs, and that would take me through a whole palette of emotions. I would say, now the closest I come is, every now and then you get that perfect mix and you’ve listened to it in your car and then your boom box, then the other car, and it sounds great everywhere and that makes me feel really good. Sometimes live music will do it, like a good show. Sometimes your having one of those great shows, you’re not thinking too much and just cruising along…people are hanging on every word, you’re connecting…
Magnetic West: what about the same idea in convergence with media? Is there a convergence that stands out?
Levick: like, Say Anything, with the Peter Gabriel song? I always wonder how much they manipulate you with the music in these shows, like what would happen if they stripped all the music, would you still feel what they want you to feel just from the acting? It’s hard to know because they don’t ever do that,
Magnetic West: well, what would be your guess on that?
Levick: my guess is they’re totally manipulating you, and there’s nothing wrong with it, I mean, I’m sure people do movies without music and if they’re able to move you without the aid of music, then more power to them. It’s interesting because I’ve been licensing since 2004 and it took 10 years to learn what they’re really looking for is a mood. What they want is a song that is categorically one mood, you know, they don’t want anything ambivalent. That’s what I’ve been trying to keep in mind when I write for these shows. So, you can have the coolest track in the world and it wouldn’t work for TV, you’d almost have to dumb it down to this is sad .
Magnetic West: yea, pinpoint the mood
Levick: pinpoint the mood
Magnetic West: any specific songs, like you mentioned the Peter Gabriel tune in Say Anything?
Levick: yea, In Your Eyes in that movie….well, the best thing is, lately, since Bowie died ( I’m a huge Bowie fan ) they’ve been using him a lot, and there’s something about hearing a song that you grew up with in a movie that makes it ten times more powerful…I don’t think it makes you like the song more, it makes you like the movie more…
Magnetic West: I know you’ve licensed your music to shows like Shameless, which is one of my favorite shows, is there any of your tracks that standout in their convergence with media ?
Levick: There’s one song they put on Sons of Anarchy that I’m really proud of.,. I got a call for something completely different, they wanted a back porch blues thing, just guitar and vocal, so I called Jeff Pevar and said “ just play one guitar or two and send it to me ” and the whole thing went down in an hour, and I got it and threw a vocal on it, and I remember thinking, this would be really cool on Sons of Anarchy and a month later it was on Sons of Anarchy…it didn’t get on the show we did it for but you know I don’t deal directly with a lot of the shows so I never know, a lot of times I find out later what it was on, like way later, like six months later.
Magnetic West: like on statement?
Levick: yea, but I’ve started thinking more about what shows I’m writing for…like Shameless, they ask for my stuff, and I don’t have a whole lot of time to write songs that I’m not really commissioned to write but sometimes I’ll sit down and go, let’s write something that I can send to that show.
Magnetic West: so around 2004 you started focusing on writing for film / tv , how that get started?
Levick: It was a really weird convergence, I had kind of a late start, I mean , I’ve always been playing music, but I spent my teenage years and part of my twenties just partying so I feel like I’m ten years behind everyone else in terms of where my life should be and my career…
Magnetic West: I’ve always felt like that too, in my twenties I lived in Hawaii…
Levick: you can’t get anything done in Hawaii.
Magnetic West: just hanging on the beach …
Levick: but back then you’re not thinking that it was a waste of time, just, this is great! So, I started getting into serious bands in my mid - twenties, and what happened was, my last band ended in 2001 and I was thinking this is the last time I’m doing this music industry thing. I had just had a kid in ’98 and we were still doing these tours, SXSW and coastal tours, but it was getting harder and harder to be gone. What actually happened was, our first album was put out by this indie label called Pinch Hit that got us on commercial radio, and it charted in some places, it wasn’t great, it never turned into money , but it was nice, and they gave me an advance for the solo album after the band broke up. Instead of going to a studio I decided to buy a Mac and a pre-amp and a mic and basically I spent a year on two songs, just learning how do it, just tweaking and tweaking those two songs. When I was done with that, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and had friend who worked for this company that asked me to do a couple songs and I was able to bang them out, and I had a partner that I was writing with from the band I was in, we did it together and they liked it, so we just started doing CDs for all these music libraries. When my daughter was going into first grade, we wanted to leave LA because we didn’t like the school systems and my wife had some family in Southern Oregon. So, we moved to Grants Pass and there was nothing to do there. I didn’t know anybody and we lived there for 3 years and in those 3 years I got my catalogue from 20 songs to like 200 songs because all I did was write.