Levitation Jones: the Weirder the Better [interview]
“A lot of people think that making dancefloor bangers is the secret to blowing up,” says Brian as we chat upon the narrow staircase in the back of the club. “But I think I have a more organic, truthful crowd that understands why I do what I do. I’m just trying to weird y’all out.”
The coupling of the words “zero f**ks” has never seen more truth than in the story of Brian Jones, a bass music producer whose seemingly savage exterior often times rubs people the wrong way. Lev has faced a smidgen of adversity over the years from having forged a totally abstract style of tunes despite what was popping in his neck of the woods while growing up. But, love it or hate it, his sound is all his own, and he really couldn’t care less whether you dig it or not. If that offends you, it shouldn’t. It’s simply his way of saying ‘This is the way I’m doing things – if you’re on board, cool. If not, oh well.’
We caught up with Brian at his first ever sold-out solo-headline show at Orlando’s Native Social Bar and discussed his upcoming spring tour, ThazDope, musical influences and staying weird.
Sensible Reason: What really inspired you to start producing and creating under the alias of Levitation Jones?
Brian Jones: I was trying to be more involved in this scene and wanted be able to create. This stuff saved my life, and I wanted to be able to present that opportunity for someone else.
SR: When you say it “saved your life”…
BJ: It turned my whole life around, I’m such a happy person now and I wasn’t happy before. I’m feeling pretty good about life right now.
SR: Growing up in Rhode Island, how did your surroundings influence you considering the electronic music scene is pretty saturated and mainstream there? How did you find such an original sound despite your environment?
BJ: It’s interesting, there’s not really any “scene” in Rhode Island for bass music at least, not for what I do. Six years ago it was me and my older brother who lived in Connecticut and we would go to NYC on the train which was a 3 or 4 hour ride just to see Space Jesus at a basement in New York with like 20 people. Now his shows are a lot bigger and it’s funny to think that we would travel those lengths just to see this unreal music that nobody had heard. And that’s what I wanted to be, I wanted to make stuff so off-the-walls whether it’s relative or danceable or not. I wanted to create music that you couldn’t not listen to, you gotta give it a shot and see what’s going on.
SR: So you would say Space Jesus and similar artists are big influences of yours?
BJ: It went from Bassnectar to Space Jesus and then it got into Yheti and G. Jones and stuff. I ran a radio show in college for a short time and was always playing underground bass music then too; I would play a Flux Pavilion track then some crazy track from some no-name that I found on the internet, and that started my love for track digging and mixing wild stuff that no one has heard.
SR: So, how was the experience of working with Toadface on your collaborative EP Living in a Bubble?
BJ: Todd deserves a lot of credit for that EP, I would send him a bunch of stuff to work with and he wasn’t feeling a lot of it. But I kept sending him loads of music and he worked with it, he kind of took the reigns. I think most collabs are like that though, you can’t feel guilty about it because that’s just how it works.
SR: You guys definitely made it work though, good job. As far as ThazDope and future collaborations with labelmates goes, do you have any more in the works?
BJ: I just like to differentiate. I remember coming up in the original scene, they’d always ask who my affiliations were, and I would just say I don’t have any affiliations, I work with everybody, I rep MalLabel and ThazDope and other labels that post my stuff.There’s an EP in the spring that I’m going to do independently, but Orchestrobe and I will probably do EP after EP, Toadface and I will probably end up working on another piece. No promises but I just click with those guys a lot, we sit down and write music and it just makes sense.
SR: You had some pretty significant festival appearances during 2016 like Imagine and Camp Bisco – what would you say was your favorite festival experience overall last year?
BJ: They always have their ups and downs. I was so excited to play Infrasound and then my set got cancelled and it was a rough weekend. I think I’ll be back there this year though. I think my favorite from 2016 was when I played Zen Awakening, it just flowed out. It was on the Incendia Stage and those guys are awesome, there’s fire being blown everywhere and it makes you look super badass. My music fits really well with the late night fire vibes so that’s just where I belong.
SR: That Incendia Stage is definitely the place to be at most festivals. But your crowd at Imagine was pretty massive!
BJ: It was weird playing in like billion-degree weather in the daytime too, but my set from that festival reflected more of a daytime vibe too. I had to showcase what I do, if it was any old DJ set then it would’ve been different but I wanted to put that set online so I gotta give it my all. It was the biggest crowd I’ve ever had, and normally when people don’t dance that much I get nervous. But it just kept getting bigger and bigger so I knew I was doing something right.
SR: There was a point in time where I thought I was going to die from bass-induced heat exhaustion.
BJ: That’s the festy life for you.
SR: Some of your newer releases such as “New Kid” are a little bit heavier than what you’ve been putting out in the past, is that the direction you’re trying to head?
BJ: I’m getting the hang of writing bangers more cohesively, so tracks like “New Kid” and “Larry” are just overall well written and more dancefloor relatable. But I also really like writing crazy dumb stuff that you can’t really dance to, and I’ll continue to do that forever. A lot of people think that making dancefloor bangers is the secret to blowing up, but I think I have a more organic, truthful crowd that understands why I do what I do. I’m just trying to weird y’all out.
SR: I’ve noticed that with you and pretty much everyone on the ThazDope team are legitimate artists to say the least. One last question, who is your favorite artist or few artists as of lately?
BJ: Wow, that’s a really tough one to answer, it switches up all the time. But I just want to give shout outs to the people that are coming on spring tour with me, Pushloop, Ludge, Orchestrobe, Rez and Prophet – I think those guys are all pushing dubstep in America the right way, the way people like The Widdler and Truth would do it. I think there’s this sound that deserves more attention than it receives.