By Abigale Wells (@Abigal44)
Justin Levinson is best described as a blossoming singer-songwriter with an astounding talent and an endless love for music. Levinson learned to play numerous instruments over the years, which in turn laid the ground work for his career as a musician. Already having three albums released to critical acclaim, his fourth, “Yes Man” is on the way. Levinson states the new album has been heavily influenced by the 60’s pop music he listened to growing up. As for what you’ll find — music that gives you with a feel-good, confident vibe and easily leaves you thirsty for more.
How do you manage to stay both personal and original with your music?
Well I really don’t try to over think it. In general I write from personal experience and my life is constantly changing. I guess that’s a way of keeping it original. For the most part I just sit at the piano and do what I do. I’m usually most inspired when I get my face out of my phone.
What was the first “sign” that a music career was right for you?
I always knew in my gut that music was my passion, but unfortunately passion doesn’t always pay the bills. In 2009 I started to get a lot of traction with a tune on Sirius radio and I signed a management deal. I think when I began getting paid I started believing that maybe it just wasn’t my Mom and Dad that thought I had some talent. It takes a thick a skin to put your art out there and you really have to do it because you love it.
Do you ever create hidden messages or meanings in your music?
I think there have been times where I’ve written some abstract songs that were sort of up for interpretation but in general I don’t get too buried in literary devices. I love the great wordsmiths like Dylan but when I put my pen on the paper things tend to me more tongue in cheek.
Was your new album “Yes Man”, inspired by any personal experiences or outside events?
Well the tune is loosely based on a character I was on the verge of becoming. I felt for a long time I was letting others choose my fate. I was stuck in bad relationship and I didn’t have the courage to walk away. I was also compromising my integrity in music by associating myself with artists that really didn’t represent what I was about. I really felt like a phoney. One day I was telling all my woes to my buddy and former bassist Seth Barbiero and he said,”dude you’re a Yes Man.” I started thinking of “Ape Man” (Kinks), “Nowhere Man” (Beatles), “Tax Man” (Beatles) and Eureka!
In the song the “Yes Man” is a worn out middle-aged man who is constantly over worked and taken advantage of in the office. His wife calls the shots at home and his kids have behavioral issues. Although he often just comes home and stares at the television there is some hope for the Yes Man. The tune alludes that things could be better and he can have more control of his life if he says no. The song was also somewhat inspired by the cartoon version of Dante’s Inferno. There is a scene where all of these people are protesting in Hell because they never took a stand in life.
The rest of album however doesn’t really stick by the theme of the Yes Man. It more or less sets the stage. Most of the album is about new love, hope and optimism. Honestly the most feel good album I’ve ever written.
What vibe or feeling do you hope listeners will get from “Yes Man”?
I hope they crank it with their windows down…preferably somewhere with sunshine and palm trees.
How is “Yes Man” different from your other three albums?
All of my previous material has been released on a limited budget and a deadline. This time I’ve spent over a year in the studio. I’ve also worked tirelessly on improving my vocals for this album. Another big change is sticking with that 60’s pop sound. We’ve doubled my lead vocals and my producer Adam Popick has arranged really lush backing vocals. You’ll hear a lot of mellotron and REAL INSTRUMENTS. We won’t be playing with backing tracks on the road either.