Pop Levi: On the Up



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Time Out speaks to solo master of psych-glam-garage-blues-rock, Pop Levi

  • Who is he?

    Until now, Pop was best known as the bassist for hip electro-indiesters Ladytron and Supernumeri. Now, however, he’s a solo master of psych-glam-garage-blues-rock. His proper debut EP, ‘Blue Honey’, is one of the most infectious yet mind-blowing things you’ll have heard since the Spank Rock album. While the catchy, bluesy ‘A Style Called Crying Chic’ will probably be the crowd pleaser, parts of the sensational title track sound more like a mental episode than an external noise.

    What does he sound like?

    ‘I see my music as a series of numbers arranged in such a way that they appear to breathe,’ says Pop, which might sound like nonsense, but is actually a pretty accurate description of his sonic melange. ‘It’s what I call astral rock ‘n’ roll. I didn’t want it to sound like anything else that was being made now. I wanted to take that approach as if Phil Spector and Prince had produced a Bob Dylan record.’ Although he would have been very happy to produce something that sounded like Gary Glitter’s ‘Do You WannaTouch Me (Oh Yeah)’. ‘Fuck me, man, that is an amazing record’.

    Where does all the freakiness come from?

    Straight outta the noosphere, man. ‘I get a lot of it through this technique called scrying. It was popularised by [occultist and cartographer] Dr John Dee and was big in Victorian England. It’s where you gaze through a cracked glass or saucer of water and the way your brain interprets open yet changing patterned space means you can draw things from out of space. I’m really into it. I like the idea that I don’t write any of it, it’s just delivered.’

    Is he a Scouser or something?

    Pop spent most off his adult life in Liverpool, but has since relocated to LA. Although he doubts he’ll live there forever, Pop is equally certain he won’t be moving back to the UK. In fact, he plans to live nomadically for the rest of his days. ‘I’m really turned on for moving from country to country. I wanna go and live in South America soon and record the next album travelling through the desert.’

    Who’s going to like him?

    Well, his label, Ninja Tune, are undoubtedly his biggest fans, having set up a new imprint, Counter, specifically to release Pop’s work. ‘Yeah man, they’re into it more than you would believe,’ Pop marvels. ‘I liked the idea of releasing astral rock ‘n’ roll on an electronic hip hop label. That’s boss, man. I also think it helps the record sound more modern, on a subliminal level. Like, if I heard an opera record that was on Verve, I’d get really into it. It’s like the packaging of a book, it gives it a different feeling.’

    Why should we care?

    Because he’s definitely a one-off, and he’s outrageously ambitious in a good way, rather than a Johnny Borrell way.
    ‘I want to be a giant success and a cult figure all rolled into one,’ he says. ‘I’m interested in taking every single factor of releasing records into a higher realm. Down to the design, and the names of the songs and the lyrics and the way they’re produced and the performance on stage.’
    Incidentally, you probably want to pick up a copy of his ur-indie single ‘Rude Kinda Love’ on Ladytron’s Invicta Hi-Fi label before the hype kicks in and you can’t afford it any more.

    ‘Blue Honey’ is out on Monday. Pop Levi plays the Time Out On The Up show with The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club and The Mules on September 6.

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Users say


Really – have you no taste or are you so young you haven't heard this all before from T Rex et al? This is toy-town music for the pretentious, the clique mongers and the kind of people who use the term guilty pleasure. In fact most of your Top Ten list is absurdly way off the musical mark. Must try harder.