Interview: Lois Levin Opens Up about Her Music, Guitars, and Songwriting

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Lois Levin
Photo: Joel Jones
       

A few days ago, Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Lois Levin released “You Don’t Make Me Feel Good Anymore,” a soulful, jazz-laced ode about fading passion.

The track follows on the heels of Lois’ 2021 debut single, “Burden,” which received praise from Jazz FM, BBC 6Music, BBC Introducing, and BBC London, along with features in elite outlets.

Lois’ sound blends elements of soul, pop, and jazz into delicious, evocative music tinted with a residue of sadness – perhaps the corollary of growing up with an absent mother due to alcoholism and the looming prospect of losing her father to the same poison.

Things started to happen for Lois after a chance meeting with Liverpool-based producer Jon Withnall (Rihanna, Coldplay). Trading demos and ideas during lockdown, the two later entered the studio to lay down a few tracks.

There’s a mystifying allure to Lois’ voice, a tantalizing quality that’s hard to put your finger on. But it’s there, with its seductive essence – irresistible and intriguing.

Guitar Girl Magazine spoke with Lois Levin to discover more about the person behind the music, her influences, and her songwriting process.

What three things can’t you live without?

Headphones, Xbox, and my Nan.

What inspired your new single, “You Don’t Make Me Feel Good Anymore?”

I was attracted to someone so much that I wrote them a song about how much I liked them but how much I didn’t like them all at the same time. We spoke endlessly but didn’t manage to find the time to take it further than that and, in the end, I started to feel like ‘what’s the point’ thus ‘You Don’t Make Me Feel Good Anymore.’

Walk us through your mindset as you approached recording the song.

I was writing this song in a practice room at the time and the person I was writing it about was in the building next to me so when I was singing it, I kind of felt like they were able to hear me. The lyrics actually just came to me quite quickly. I feel that when your feelings are raw, words come to you bluntly, honestly, and direct. I actually recorded this in my room staring at my walls with my microphone attached to a water bottle and with my family downstairs, I don’t think they mind me belting out. My manager and producer Jon Withnall helped me bring it together.

How did you get started in music?

I’ve been writing since the age of 10 and picked up a guitar at 14 and started doing gigs locally across Merseyside and I did this one gig in Brixton where I got my first manager at the age of 17. I feel like only now I’ve really found a sound and style that feels right to me. I grew up on Motown, swing and the obvious early noughties pop and I feel like my sound is a combination of a lot of different genres.

Where are you from?

I’m from the glorious Birkenhead!

Did your hometown impact your sound?

I guess you could say so. It definitely did when I first began writing. I always felt I was influenced by early indie-rock bands, and I have in my time done covers of The Beatles that goes without saying.

Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?

There are so many it’s hard to pinpoint. From Paolo Nutini, Ella Fitzgerald, The Stone Roses, T Rex, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, Sade, the list goes on…

What kind of guitar do you play?

I used to play with a Fender Sonoran when I first started, I recently bought a Tanglewood and I just love its bassy tones. When I play it, it really takes me places and makes me feel something. I do own a Fender Strat but haven’t yet played with it much.

What is your definition of tone? And is your tone changing, or remaining pretty much the same?

My tone vocally I find is pretty low, but I love going into falsetto. I guess it changes depending on how many cigarettes I’ve had. My definition of tone would be something along the lines of the heartbeat of the song; vocally or lyrically – you’re gonna feel it.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, TV, or other media?

My experiences for sure. Mainly mood. The people I meet and how they make me feel also. Sometimes I write poems and stories though. When I watch another artist live, I can never fully concentrate because of how inspired I get. I’ll usually write something afterward in a pub toilet or something.

What can you share about your writing process?

I find words will come to me at the most random times, call me the Mystic Meg of songwriting. Otherwise, I’ll find a few chords which really get to me either emotionally or rhythmically, and again the words will come. I’m not one to struggle finding what to say.

Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?

Brooke Combe is smashing it right now. I’m really enjoying Joesef, Jordan Rakei, and Joy Crookes.

What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs? New material?

More live performances, I do have tracks more or less ready to go so hopefully there will be another track out if not two by the end of the year! I’m hoping to just stay as active as possible and let people hear what I’ve been working on this past year. It’s an exciting time.

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