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Levitation Room

Just a few days before the release of Levitation Room's debut album Ethos (out March 19), Basement had the chance and the honour to chat with the band's singer and lead guitarist Julian Porte. If you have already checked on their 2015's 6-track EP Minds Of Our Own, then you are in a position to share our enthousiasm and eagerness for the band's forthcoming release. On the other hand, if you haven't, do it ASAP, cause it's brilliant! Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Levitation Room are a psych-rock quartet consisting of our exceptional interviewee Julian (vocals, lead guitars), Gabriel Fernandez (vocals, lead guitars), Johnathan Martin (drums), Jonathan Martin (bass, vocals) and the new member Glenn Brigman (keyboards - also a member of Triptides, who gave us the beautiful album Azur last year). Well, that's all from us, here's the very interesting interview we had with Julian.

 

The Basement: Hi guys ! Wish you a creative new year ! A year that will bring your debut LP, in March, isn’t it? What should we expect ? How would you describe it ?
Thank you! Yes, March 19th is the date we have set to release it into the world. I guess you can anticipate it being a straight forward psychedelic album with a few flowery pop tunes thrown in there for good measure. The last EP we put out "Minds Of Our Own" was kind of a glimpse into the evolution of our music. Ethos has new elements of instrumentation with the help of our new keyboardist, Glenn Brigman, who recorded the album and helped elaborate on some keen ideas for it's development. We hope that the listener can get into the groove of this album but also listen to what we have to say. There are a few songs in there with political undertones and lyrics to help meditate on problems that pertain to life. 

The Basement: Are you 100% happy and satisfied with the final outcome ? Tell us more about how you made it.
Well we're definitely satisfied and excited about it, but I don't think any artist is ever 100% satisfied with their work. I'm always going back to listen to it and I find things that I wish I could change. The endless revisions that run through my head are astounding, but that's okay, because we can't just rest on your laurels. We have to keep pushing to make better music. The album was recorded live at Everydaze (a music store that we used to own and operate) by our friends Glenn Brigman and Josh Menashe, on a little tape machine in our lock-out studio in the back. Glenn and Josh are two really amazing musicians in a band similar to ours called, Triptides. Once we heard the quality of sound they got from recording and producing their own albums we asked them if they could record ours and voila! Ethos was created. 

The Basement: Are you planning a tour to support the release ?
Yes! We are doing a Psych fest tour in late April. We'll be traveling from California up to Austin TX for Levitation Fest and then up to Chicago and back. We are also set for a tour to Europe in September! We don't know all the tour dates yet, but hopefully we'll be going to Greece! Contact Zuma Booking and let them know you guys want us there haha. 

The Basement: Which of the songs featuring on your brilliant ‘Minds Of Our Own’ EP will be also found in the album ? Tell us more of how you recorded that first work of yours.
Both "Loved" and "There Are No Words" from "Minds Of Our Own" will be on Ethos. Same songs, but just recorded differently and with some added sounds and textures. Half of the first EP was recorded with our old friend James Torres at his studio in LA. The other half was recorded by us and one song (visions of my mind) was recorded with our good friend Joel Jerome, who happens to be one of the best recording engineers and musicians in LA in our opinion. 

The Basement: The title of your debut “Ethos” comes from the Greek word “ήθος” meaning the character or disposition of a community, group, person, etc. How did you come with this word entitling your album ?
The album title just came to me. The word Ethos was stuck in my head for a long time after taking a philosophy course in college when I was younger. So when the album was done and we started thinking about a title in correlation to the theme of the songs, Ethos was the first word that popped into my head. We wanted the album to voice and encompass everything that people believe or struggle with, personally and collectively. And if you look up the word Ethos on wikipedia it says " The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence it's hearer's emotions, behaviors, and even morals". We thought that was pretty cool.

The Basement: And what about your band name, Levitation Room. How did you come with it ?
The band name was created one night after taking a few bites of mushrooms hahah. We were all jamming in our old studio and I started feeling like my feet were floating off the ground. After we were done jamming we all sat around and I was trying to tell everyone that I felt like I was levitating. Then the world Levitation came to mind. We looked up the word to see if any band had already taken it. Turns out there was a shoegaze band from the 90's called Levitation. So we sat around some more thinking about adding a word onto it. Then we realized we were all sitting in a "room". Thus, the band name, Levitation Room, was pushed through the birth canals of our imagination.

 

 

The Basement: How did it all start for the band ? Under what circumstances did you guys meet and decide to form a band ?
It all started with Me and Gabriel. We knew each other when we were teenagers in the punk rock scene. We ended up forming a band called "The Hitz" with a few of our friends from other bands. I didn't know how to play guitar back then, so I just sang and became their front man. I ended up splitting from the band to do my own thing for a while. I started learning how to play guitar well enough to jam with other musicians, so I put a post out on Facebook to see if anyone was interested in starting a band. Gabriel hit me up right away and said he was looking to start something new. So from there we searched around for a drummer and a bassist and ended up acquiring a rhythm section with two guys who have almost identical names; drummer Johnathan Martin and bassist, Jonathan Martin haha. The "h" is the only thing that distinguishes them. 

The Basement: Is it true that you are a dedicated street musician ? What did the members of the band used to do before the Levitation Room ?
Yes, I've been a street musician since 2010/2011. There was a point in time where I was going through a lot of problems in life. I went to jail, lost my girlfriend and ended quitting college. I was always broke and couldn't find a job, so I started playing music on the street to make a living and I still do it to this day. Everyday I take the train across the street from my apartment to stand in front of a grocery store and play folk music with my acoustic and harmonica. It's a blessing to be able to skim by playing and practicing music out in public everyday and I'm proud to do it. Everyone in the band still works. None of us have the luxury of relaxing yet. We're all hustlers haha. Gabriel works at a music school for kids, John (drums) works at an auto parts store, and Jonathan (bass) works for a refrigeration company. We hope one day we won't have to work so much and just live solely off our music. That's the dream!

The Basement: Can you give us a music category of what you play ? Do you believe in categories ? Or you think of it just as pigeonholes to help us get an order when speaking about different artists ?
Well that's a tough question. You can't just generalize all music into one category, so obviously there has to be a distinction between other types of music. But then that can leave you vulnerable to any type of label. I guess we fit the "Psych Rock" category. But the thing is, there are tons of bands that are deemed "Psych Rock" just because they use tons of reverb or guitar effects pedals or whatever. I guess it's ultimately up to the listener. To us "Psych Rock" is a type of music that expands consciousness and implores people to think outside the box. And being pigeonholed can definitely be frustrating. We don't want to be limited or bound to just one style of music. We might just come out with a folk or jazz album if we feel like it. Would people still think we're a psych band?

The Basement: You are not alone in Los Angeles, psychedelic rock bands are popping up more rapidly than one could keep count. Do you think you must overcome yourselves to get a prominent place among those that are globally known ? What are your targets ?
We definitely want to try and set ourselves apart from a lot of the psych bands here in LA. And I think you can expect us to change with every album we put out, because there's more to our taste than just one thing. I guess the goal is to make music that we feel is good enough for us to listen back to and enjoy ourselves. I think one thing that makes us a little different is the lyrical content of our songs. I'm not saying they're the most profound songs but we like to be provocative and forthright about the things we see around us and we want to continue focusing on that; stirring up peoples thoughts and emotions to make changes in themselves and in the world. We definitely have a lot of work to do to make ourselves present in this scene but we're up for the challenge. Our plan is to continue evolving, making better music and becoming more prevalent, not just to the psych rock listeners, but to other listeners as well.

The Basement: Do you think Labels affect the music that bands produce ? You associated with Lolipop and Burger Records. Describe us what do you feel about people running those Labels.
I don't think Labels necessarily effect the music that bands produce, unless you're on a major label and your creative freedom is being compromised or something. Being with independent labels like Lolipop and Burger Records are really easy going and have given us nothing but great opportunities, support and a platform to share our music with the world. We feel the people running these labels are honest and genuine. You can go to the Burger Records store any day of the week and hang out with Sean and Lee in the back, have a few laughs and talk about plans you have for the band. The same goes for Lolipop.

The Basement: What if you weren't in L.A., where would you think you might want to exist as a band ?
Maybe somewhere where our type of music isn't so saturated by other bands. Somewhere in Europe would be rad! South America. If it were here in the states, maybe San Francisco, Austin Texas or New York. Somewhere with livelihood.

The Basement: We live in Greece, you live in L.A. Without the internet, it will probably be too hard to find your music in a local record store. What are your thoughts about digital piracy and all that stuff in the music industry ?
Well music piracy is a double edged sword. On one hand we believe music should be free, because thats ultimately what music is; it's a gift, so why not share it? It's also a great way for music to spread. Sometimes having to pay a few bucks will hinder someone from ever buying your album, but the idea is to get it into as many hands and ears as possible. On the other hand, it's made it really difficult for bands to make a living from playing music. When a band can't support itself financially, it becomes harder to sustain it. There's times when we look at ourselves and know there's no certainty to our future as musicians, but we do it because we love it, not because it makes us a dollar. 

The Basement: Which bands or artists would you consider as your main influences ?
The Beatles are always first on the list. The Kinks, The Pretty Things, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, The Grateful Dead, Margo Guryan, Ora, The End and newer bands like Tame Impala, Temples, Jacco Gardner.  we also really love folk, jazz, blues and world music, so you might start hearing us play different things as we go along.

Thank you so much Levitation Room!

 

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