Tony Levitas Interview

Hello. Can you provide us a little information about yourself and what you are attempting to do with your music?

I’m a native Atlantan, a singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist.  My hopes for this new album, “Black Sky Blanket” are to get some songs into tv/film, to other artists who need material, and some airplay would be nice too. 

 

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What difficulties have you experienced in your musical career?

There are so many musicians out there who are really good, so the competition is massive.  Being a bit technologically challenged, I’ve struggled with keeping up with all the  changes technology.  Some other hurdles  are  the  lack of management or representation, and my limited knowledge of promotion and distribution and  getting my music out out there is challenging.  So i’m kinda on my own in that regard.  

Black Sky Blanket is your new album. What significance does the album’s title have?

“Black Sky Blanket” is a song I wrote after driving through a really bad storm in the middle of the night on the way to the beach.  When I finally got to there,  the sky was black, and clear, and full of stars.  It was very soothing and comforting.

How has your style evolved and changed over the time since you first started playing?

Its hard to speak about my music objectively and hard to say how my style has changed over time. As a kid I played drums and then switched to guitar and bass.  But I think starting with drums has given me a sound rhythm sense.  I just try to make music that sounds beautiful to my ear and that hopefully, impacts others emotionally.  I think art is supposed to make you feel something.  

Can you describe your creative process and your recording set up for us?

My creative process is loose.  I usually start playing an acoustic guitar and put some chord changes or riffs together.  Next, I’ll try to hum a melody to it.  Something often flows from there.  My first CD, “Together Somehow” was released in 2011.  I recorded all of the tracks in my basement on Garage Band and then took them to this great studio engineer, Martin Kearns in Atlanta, who mixed them and made them sound way better than what I could do on my own.  He also played keyboards on a few songs.  (Martin has played in Shawn Mullins band and is a veteran of the Atlanta music scene).  For “Black Sky Blanket” I asked    Martin to co-produce it with me.   We recorded all the songs from scratch in his studio, Down in Deep, except fro “Right Here With You” which I recorded in my basement.  Martin and I are very musically simpatico, both big Beatlephiles.  We would typically start off with recording an acoustic guitar part and add tracks from there.  He played keyboards on a few songs on this album as well. My son Graham, also played guitar on “Picture.”  It is a true joy to get to play music with him.    My lifelong friends, Larry and Michael Chesin,  also played guitar and sang harmonies on “Picture”  Also my friend and musical brother, Steve Einbender played drums on “Picture.”  I was lucky to have these guys on the album with me.  The rest of the parts are  me. Martin and I  had big fun coming up with ideas for sounds and textures to add. Lots of tambourine and percussion instruments.   He has some really cool old amps in his studio including a Silvertone and a Vox, which we used for electric guitars.  We recorded bass direct.  Drums were challenging, because I don’t get to play them much.

What acts have been the most influential in creating your unique sound?

As for influences, I grew up with the British Invasion, and Bob Dylan. But a lot of blues too.  B.B. King, and Johnny Winter, Robert Johnson.   Have always loved the soul and groove of artists like Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and Sam and Dave, who I used to play drums to their 45’s as a kid.  I’m a big reggae fan so definitely Bob Marley, who really makes me feel close to god. Back in the day I was lucky enough to open for Toots and the Maytals and Dennis Brown. I love Jamaica and its people, music and culture.  Playing reggae and ska have always been some of my most favorite styles of music to play.  Neil Young has definitely been a big influence on my guitar playing.  And I love the meter in the phrasing of Hank Williams and Chuck Berry.  So my music, I think is a melange of these influences.  Jim Morison too. 

Which tracks are your favorite on Black Sky Blanket, and what makes them so?

Its really hard to pick favorite songs on the album.  You know, they are kinda like my kids, and I put a lot of love and heart and soul into them. Path of Pain, Anywhere with You, Thank You Love, I like a lot.  But the others are close to my heart too.

Can you give us an insight about what listeners should expect from yourself through the end of 2014 and into 2015?

For the rest of the year, I’l be focusing on getting this album released and out there.  It will be on i-tunes and spottily and other sites.  Will be playing some shows in the Atlanta area also, and hope to have an album release party too.    

How can individuals contact you and hear your music?

If you want to reach me or check out my other songs, you can go to www.reverbnation.com/tonylevitas and become a fan.  

 

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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