Interview: Levy & The Oaks

levy and the oaksHailing from Asbury Park, New Jersey, Levy & The Oaks bring together classic, homegrown folk and Americana, with nuanced pop production and accessibility to create a sound that is entirely their own. After releasing their eponymous debut just last year, the band have wasted no time in releasing their new unplugged EP Out Of The Blue. The sparse arrangements on offer within have breathed new life into the tracks. I chatted to Lou Panico about Levy & The Oaks’ latest acoustic adventures ahead of the upcoming EP: 

Thanks for your time! You’ll soon be releasing your new EP Out Of The Blue. You must be eager to share it with the world!
We’re super pumped! We’ve been itching to release an acoustic album and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to show a more intimate side of us.

The EP features a series of unplugged tracks, what made you decide to release something more stripped back and intimate?
Most, if not all of our songs start on an acoustic guitar. It’s how we write. It’s how we communicate with each other. These tracks are us in our most purest, basic form. It’s how it all begins. We wanted to share that with our listeners and let them in on our songwriting process. We love performing stripped down and unplugged just as much as we enjoy performing full-band with lavish instrumentation. We wanted to show the other side of us to let everyone know that songwriting doesn’t have to be one-dimensional. It never is.

Most of the tracks are taken from your debut album, with the exception of ‘Remember Where The Wind Blows’. What can you tell me about that song in particular?
Duane and I wrote that song a few years back. I remember it vividly. The two of us got together and arranged it from beginning to end in one sitting. As any writers out there can tell you, those are the best moments as an artist. The song can together effortlessly. At the time we were focusing on our album and never found the right time to release or place it— until now. I’m very happy it’s out there as it’s always been one of my favorites. The song maps a story of struggling protagonist filled with regret. It’s about remembering that no matter how bad things get, there’s always a silver lining. It’s about accepting that it’s OK not to be OK all of the time.

You’re based in Asbury Park, somewhere with a very rich and varied musical history. How would you describe the current music scene there?
Rock and roll is alive and well in Asbury. The music scene is indescribable. During a time when New York City doesn’t even have a rock radio station, I’m extremely happy to call Asbury Park my home. Other cities should take note.

As well as the evident folk and Americana, there are a lot of other elements to your music that are a bit harder to place. Who would you say are your biggest influences?
We always struggle when asked “hey, what does your band sound like?” We’re less concerned about placing ourselves and more concerned with staying active, challenging ourselves as song-writers, and pumping out as much material as we possibly can. Our songs can turn on a dime depending on who we’re working on them with and what kind of mood we’re in when we record it. Our modern day influences are constantly changing. We try to do what’s right for the song regardless of what bands/artists we’re listening to that week.

Out Of The Blue follows the trend set by your debut album by featuring some striking album artwork. Where did these designs come from?
The CD art for the first album I ever released was done by a buddy of mine named Nick Kiefer. Fast forward over 10 years later, I run into Nick at a bar in Asbury Park. Turns out we both moved to Asbury for the same reasons — to be around rock and roll. That night he told me I was the very first album art that he had ever done. We determined then and there that our paths had crossed again for a reason. Nick did an amazing job with our LP, the cover art for our EP, and layout designs for multiple show posters and levy projects since. It’s as if destiny brought us back together!

If you could have written any song in the world, what would it be and why?
Ha! Every week there’s a new song I hear that I wish I had written. Most recently “Love Is Mystical” by Cold War Kids, “Middle Fingers” by MISSIO, and “Weak” by AJR.

What does the rest of 2017 have in store for you?
Good question! We’re super busy right now. We love it. We have even more music we want to release this summer and are going to keep playing and recording as much as possible. Hopefully you’ll see us on a stage with some bigger acts and hear our music in more and more places soon. Thanks for taking the time to speak to us!

Massive thanks to Levy & The Oaks! Their new EP Out Of The Blue is outh 19th May