Q: You wrote “Cada Mañana” for your lovely wife, and your endless love for her is definitely heard in this track. How were you able to project your love for her through the song?
J. LEVI: Yeah, she’s definitely the muse for most of my music for sure! She’s incredibly smart (orthopedic physician assistant), beautiful, funny, and unbelievably kind. One of my favorite seasons of life with her (we’ve been together for 11 years—married for five) was when we moved from Florida to California so she could attend PA school. We sold everything we had and took a 10 day road trip to get to Sacramento and so, this song kind of gives a glimpse into that journey while also paying homage to her Latin heritage. Easy to project into a song when it’s real!
Q: Did she know you were writing the song for her? How did you present it to her? What was her reaction?
J. LEVI: [Laughter] She definitely knew because she actually requested me to write her a song. It was like the third week into quarantine and I decided to just write as many songs as I could while working from home and I had written quite a few that were more general songs about love and she was like, “When do I get a song?” A few minutes later, came up with that “Must be that Boriqua, Dominican/cuz’ girl you hotter than a Florida sauna” line in the hook and just ran with it and 30 minutes later had the whole song finished. She loved it! Recorded it on her iPhone, sent it to her best friend Deeba, and then sent it to all of her family back home in Florida. Still asks me to play it and sing it for her whenever I’m playing guitar (which is quite often).
Q: Tell me about your transition from Christian to pop/R&B/Hip Hop.
J. LEVI: This is a tough one to answer as there really wasn’t a transition. I’m still Christian and still have faith elements in my music but they’re just less overt. I think before, I valued the overtness more than the effectiveness of the messaging, which is just backwards. Now, I’m more interested in bringing people along for a journey and letting them sort out the messaging themselves without a guiding hand. Trying to be less like CS Lewis and more like JRR Tolkien.
Q: What was it like to perform at Disney’s Night of Joy, especially with Lecrae and Andy Mineo? What did you learn?
J. LEVI: It was really fun to perform at Disney’s Night of Joy! There was like 80 thousand people in the park that night. My band and I had to enter the park through like a separate entrance and had a lanyard and so, felt very official. Had a lot of people staring at us and asking who we were, which was dope. First time I had ever felt that allure of being an artist and getting attention from strangers. Of course, I wasn’t anybody and didn’t deserve it but still, I enjoyed the moment!
It was surreal perfroming at the same venue and night as Lecrae. He’s a hero of mine in so many ways. I actually hit him up a few times through social media to see if whether the fact we were performing at Night of Joy would get me some face-to-face time to chop it up over dinner or coffee (I had so many questions for him) but nothing ever materialized. Pretty sure those messages went straight to spam. Didn’t even leave me on read [laughter].
Q:How has music impacted your life?
J. LEVI: Drastically. In every conceivable way. I wouldn’t be who I am without music. Since a kid, I’ve been enthralled with how a complete stranger can write something so personalized to my life and experience despite being from a different state or even different part of the world. Like, how did you know I was thinking/going through this? It was like telepathy. Like magic. Or, how they could help connect me with a part of myself I had yet to discover or help me work through real life situations. I hope to be able to do the same with my music. Impact people’s life for the better.
Q: If you could create a shower playlist with only three songs, what would they be?
J. LEVI: A three-song shower playslit owuld have to be “Crazy” – Zac Greer, “good for u” – Olivia Rodrigo, and Japanese Denim – Daniel Caesar.
Q: Tell me what you are working on or thinking of working on for the future.
J. LEVI: Near future, I’ll be releasing “Burning Like a Dream” probably in mid-July and “Ghost” in late August/early September. “B.L.A.D.” feels like a DJ feature and is super dance-like, whereas “Ghost” is just pure Hip Hop/R&B.
While I’m hoping to do two music videos, “Ghost” is definitely getting one! Both are aboslute fire and excited for the world to hear them!
Interviewed by Taylor Berry