Auckland based independent artist, Lévyne, released her new single ‘I Don’t Think It’s Me’ last Friday and I had the honour to catch up with her after a few years. I first met Lévyne in high school, when we both gravitated toward dance, drama and music. She was a few years older than me so naturally, I really looked up to her and thought she was the coolest. Turns out she totally was, and still is. It’s been amazing to watch her journey over the years and to hear her personal sound evolve with her. Lévyne’s music is layered and detailed, while also hitting you right in the chest demanding you to tune in and feel your feelings with her.
Photography by Oli Spencer
Written by Ruby Clavey
“I think there's something so special about empowering female music, surrounding issues like breakups and well… everything! The textures and the layers are so important to me. I love things to be so intricate and for people to find easter eggs all through them.”
Lévyne’s latest single I Don’t Think It’s Me reflects on a relationship that happened at the wrong time, but she had enough self-love to walk away knowing it wasn’t how she wanted to be loved. Having the bravery to leave someone and begin a journey of healing, while recognising that there are no villains in their story, no one to blame or be angry at, is hard. Advocating for yourself isn’t always an easy thing to do, but there is comfort in knowing you have the choice to move in the right direction. Lévyne told me it was a heavy and sad song to write about because she can’t fault that person, it just wasn’t their time to be together.
“I wrote it in the car driving home one night and I was really thinking this could be perfect in a different time, but now wasn't the right time. It’s a hard spin to put on a song cause it's not a typical one, so you have to find your own way of expressing those emotions and still being respectful because I literally have nothing bad to say about that situation, it's interesting.”
While I Don’t Think It’s Me is a new release, it’s been a fan favourite at live shows for a long time. It was one of those songs that needed to be played live as soon as Lévyne put her pen down. She raced to have the song finished in time for Rhythm and Vines in 2020 and it’s been a setlist staple since then. “It also takes on its own kind of energy. It’s really fun to listen with headphones but when you’re somewhere that has crazy bass in the speakers and you’re close to the crowd, all the vibrations come through, it’s like a special different version of it.”
Lévyne is constantly exercising her musical muscles by often collaborating and writing with other artists. She loves it to the point that she’d make it a career if she could, and knowing Lévyne if she wants it, she is absolutely capable of doing it. Her skills are rapidly evolving through the learning that happens when she collaborates with other artists, often returning to her own personal mahi with a spark and new techniques. “I did a writing session with someone yesterday and they came with like two lines. Those two lines led them to tell us this whole story that happened recently and we were like fantastic, you extract bits and pieces and help formulate melodies and production ideas.”
Lévyne is an independent artist without a manager, so when she first started releasing music she was simultaneously figuring out how the music industry worked and building her career. Her growth is evident in how her sound has changed, she has loosened up and used the technical tools she’s worked on to explore themes that aren’t cookie-cutter or surface level. Lévyne said she’s learnt to let go of the rigidity of how she used to produce and write music now that she has built up her skill level. “I feel like it's way easier to just be like I'm gonna try it this way, I'm gonna record my keys on the table and edit it later. I feel like it gives me the freedom to be way more experimental.”
“It's part of any creative person's pursuit of a career. I know ceramists who hang out with other ceramists who are throwing clay and learning techniques off each other, moulding it into their own thing. You know it's the same for anyone in any creative industry.’
Soon our screens will be gifted with the music video for I Don’t Think It’s Me, as well as a body of work of about six songs that Lévyne is sitting on, “I love all of them so much, it’s the best work I've ever done” Lévyne said all the music they have up their sleeve explores really interesting themes and cool topics. "I feel like I've branched out from what I've done in the past. I love sitting in that kind of realm, it feels like the best place to be.”