Winnipeg's psych pop artist Lev Snowe and his band; George Penner, Tim Roth and Daniel Unger spoke to me about their music for those endless summer days and toasty winter nights. The band toured across Canada this past summer and before their second gig in Montreal, they let me ask them some questions and enjoy some group banter.
How has tour been so far?
George: Its been chill. I booked way too many days off for this tour so we spend a lot of time bumming around smaller cities. We’ve also had a couple of cancellations so we’ve been mostly hanging out in Southern Ontario and Montreal.
Lev: All the shows we did play were so awesome!
Tim: Yeah it’s fun! We did have car issues-
G: We literally drove 25 hours from Winnipeg to Montreal for our first show and after we loaded all our things out, I was getting into the van to leave and the door just fell off of our van…so we had to put it back.
Lev: It’s been good though! We don’t hate each other, it’s been fun, we’re closer now.
Your music on Soundcloud is more experimental, how does that differ from what you’ve released so far?
Lev: I released a beat tape as a side project. Actually, the whole thing is a giant inside joke relating to a birthday present for a friend. I made him an album called Swimming Upstream and its all instrumental beats in the style of music that I turned him on to.
G: We’re all huge fans of hip-hop and instrumental beat stuff. Its a big influence on all of us
L: Yeah, hip-hop is a big element
G: We listened to maybe an hour and a half of 2Pac, maybe even longer
T: I find that there’s a lot of elements of that as well that can be seen in our music
G: Since we got that drum machine its allowed us to explore that hip-hop beat
L: The music is technically psych pop but I listen to so much hip-hop so I needed it to transfer into it somehow
What influenced you to start making music?
L: I’ve been playing guitar since grade 9 and I’ve spent years and years just practicing guitar. I started getting into recording when I got my first reel-to-reel tape machine and I was really inspired by how you could manipulate it and how that would alter the sounds. So from there, I just wanted to actually have things to put on it so I started writing songs and then it escalated quickly.
Has the environment of where you come from influenced your music? L: Oh yeah, my music is very flat and cold and there’s a lot of references to slurpees and murder. So basically, just imagine a point where two rivers meet and sometimes there’s a market hahaha. So, we’re from Winnipeg and we’re the murder capital of Canada and we’re the slurpee capital of Canada.
Okay jokes aside, its very influenced by the outdoors, nature and roaming the streets in wander of all the magic that’s surrounding us.
G: Also, just being inside, being cozy and being by yourself. I feel like you’re an introverted person and you spend a lot of time alone. Its like if you want to curl up in an electric blanket in your house and listen to Lev Snowe, or smoke a joint and wander around your city, it fits.
L: Yeah! The winters are very long and very cold so a lot of the time its me trying to recreate summer and the idea of summer within the confines of having to be wear layers of blankets and polar fleece. When its -45; its horrible and its hard to be inspired by anything outside so a lot of the time is me dreaming of a world where there is sun and heat.
What do you like most about creating the music?
L: I think my favourite thing is when you’re in the middle of recording a song. So I record early in the morning when I wake up. I get in the studio and I start recording and all of a sudden I get so inspired that I forget to eat. So many things are happening so quickly and the world completely disappears outside of the room. Then, I come out with this finished product and realize ‘Oh damn its like 16 hours later and I haven’t eaten a single thing’. Its like you’re in another world and everything becomes secondary almost. It's amazing how it happens and I find that when I get into that pocket, that’s when the best stuff comes.
You guys do a lot of livestreams, why do you like those so much?
G: Its fun! We like to listen to jazz and talk about nothing so we thought we’d turn it into a piece of media that we would project into the world.
L: I think part of the musical image is the fact that we are so tightly knit and we just goof off. I love buying records and listening to records. Its kind of our way of being able to showcase all these old records that we love but also just so we can mess around. And, it's really nice to have a set time on Monday’s where we're just chilling with the boys.
You have a lot of Hawaiian shirts, which one’s your favourite?
L: Wait I'm going to go get it! I have literally 25 Hawaiian shirts that I cycle through. I’ve got a lot of Hawaiians but this one just fits all the dimensions perfectly. On this trip I brought 6 with me.
Listen to Lev Snowe HERE