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Shirley Levi in an Exclusive Interview
Question: "I'd like to welcome you today Shirley Levi... finally get to interview a real visionary anarchist..."
Shirley Levi: "Maybe humanist/visionary with big balls woud be more accurate...thank you."
Question: "Tell me your story... sounds like all your songs have a common theme. I'll let you tell me about it..."
Shirley Levi: "Really? You noticed that too huh? (Laugh)... I gave birth to my songs unconsciously in that I was just expressing what was going on inside me for survival and then realized once the album was completed and recorded that they are all about my struggles and quest to be heard. To move the vision of myself forward into reality. Had so many faithless influences which as I look back at in retrospect served as G-d's intention to make me fight as hard as I coud. Now the songs serve others in their own personal mission to make their dreams a reality and to believe in themselves first. Of course love is quite present in there as well... I am definitely a lover at heart. Who says you can't be a lover and a fighter? (Giggle...)"
Question: "How much of the writing and producing do you do?"
Shirley Levi: "I write all my own lyrics and compose all my own melodies... well... with a little help from the angels. I produced my album "Break Free" with my co-producer Nir Averbuch. He really complimented my style well. Now I am remixing everything on my own to put out on radio and in dance clubs."
Question: "How woud you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from other electronic artists?"
Shirley Levi:"My voice, singing, and writing makes me stand out. I never really fit in which was actually a gift in disguise. I was never any good at karaoke... and I coudn't control how I sang cuz it comes from the heart. I have a slight middle eastern flair in there meshed with western influence. My album "Break Free" is electronic but I mixed elements of pop and rock with slight natural middle eastern melodies in my singing and in the music. They are not just standard electronic songs with samples and beats... they are original compositions that are really melody and lyric-oriented and that woud sound just as beautifu in a sketch without the production. I also have pretty experimental tracks, acoustic tracks which I love with me on guitar which I almost underproduce by just capturing unique and magical moments and then putting them out for free through the internet for my listeners, and I also have ballads which will come out in the near future. I will always make electronic music because I am a big fan of it and really feel its energy and power... especially in my upcoming soundtracks."
Question: "Who are some of your greatest influences?
Shirley Levi: G-d is definitely my greatest influence in everything beautifu that comes out of me. Love. Pain. Hope. There are too many great artists to mention and I woudn't wanna leave anyone out. I must say though that my older sister Ronit really turned me on to a lot of great music growing up... she was a great musical influence and rebel... from classic rock to electronica to new wave to punk to rock to pop... etc... and my parents always loved rock 'n' roll, disco, and some country. My parents are big music lovers... just didn't really know what to do with me. My upbringing shaped my heart with the love of Middle Eastern music which always gives me chills by instinct."
Question: "How did you end up with a name like Shirley Levi being born in the Middle East?"
Shirley Levi: "Well... my parents came to the U.S. for vacation and loved the name. Ironically in Hebrew "Shir" means song and "Shir lee" means sing to me and "Lev" means heart, "Levi" means my heart. My name means sing to me from the heart and this is exactly what I do. My middle name... well... that's a secret... ha ha... it is a French name which is my grandmother's name who passed away... may she rest in peace."
Question: "What has been your greatest struggle?
Shirley Levi: "Where do I begin? Hmm... Watch my movie in a few years..."
Question: "What has been your biggest break in the music business?
Shirley Levi: "Ha ha... biggest break? The ones I smashed open! I was never one of those people that got handed anything without having to move a million mountains on my own with no money or support and based solely on my own imagination, and creative effort... and LOTS OF CHARM. I was the one who had to believe in myself first and to figure out how to place myself where and how. What to do for myself and my material. I had to learn to become more than self sufficient to get things done... especially since I was so poor. My honesty, determination attracted other like minded angels to join me on my mission to get my visions out. Every time I built and built... G-d guided me through another door. I'm very lucky to be working with so many angels surrounding me who help me on my path. I feel they are actually helping many others through me.
Question: "I noticed you have similar titles for your paintings, songs, album dedications, name of your record label, album... and I hear... on your future film. Tell me why?"
Shirley Levi: "Hmm... a girl can't give away all her secrets."
Question: "What's your greatest dream?"< p>Shirley Levi: "The one I'm living awake."
Question: "I read somewhere about all your offers to be produced, signed or to put your album out. Why fight it?"
Shirley Levi: "I didn't fight it. I fought to get them and once I did I fought myself to not see how bad the offers were because I wanted them so bad all my life. Something kept telling me... you're better than this... and I'm not talking about offers to give me a half million dollar studio and a half million dollar advance... ha ha... I'm talkin... sign away almost all of my publishing, copyrights, creative control, practically my spirit etc., etc.... for three albums. This is just the icing. I even got an offer from one of my all time heroes who I was a big fan of but it seemed he was a lot better as the artist I listened to through headphones than the artist who told me to shut my mouth and never admit to my own talent. Why not? I worked damn hard to get where I'm at! I want to do everything BUT keep my mouth, heart, spirit and mind shut. I wanna let it out to help everyone who gets infected with the fever of moving themselves forward and making their dream a reality. I want to recognize what G-d has given me to develop and share. Anyway... I think G-d also knew I am a control freak and woud want to have a say in all my own creations. I am not opposed to collaboration or working with other labels... as long as they are offering me something that is realistic to my abilities and true identity. I'm not exactly a blonde haired blue eyed pop icon... ha ha... quite the opposite. They woudn't even know what to do with me... ha ha..."
Question: "Tell me about Re-Bel Visionary Music."
Shirley Levi: "Well... since my company is first and foremost built on the love of MUSIC and independence, it is built on love, G-d, and spirituality... the name of my company is everything I stand for. The *numbers* equal *G-d's* *perfect* number.
Question: "What are you re-belling against?"
Shirley Levi: "I am re-belling and I stand up for the recognition and proper treatment of artists and people in general according to their uniqueness and individual worth."
Question: "What were you doing before music?"
Shirley Levi: "I wasn't born yet... and perhaps even before I was born I was also doing music. I loved music before I remember speaking a language. I ALWAYS KNEW. I came out of my mother's womb knowing. As everything else in my life fell apart or evolved my love and passion for music never ever changed. I went through periods where I never exposed myself but always secretly growing. I woud be great at other things and then run from them. Never wanting to accidentally let them become permanent in my life out of comfort or pattern. Everything I learned about creatively or in business just helped to compliment my mission in music. It's like a had this motor running endlessly inside me fueled on hope. No music. No hope. I became so obsessed I lost friends, lovers, jobs, almost some family members... but never my will. Creation rues me. G-d gives us what HE expects for us to excel at and release like a gift unto the world. Creation is how we got here and how we will go. People will always be the best at what has been planted inside their true nature to blossom and grow for the benefit of humanity and themselves. It's like putting a lion... king of the jungle in the sky to fly where he doesn't belong no matter how powerfu the lion is he belongs on the ground. Put a bird in the sky and the bird will soar to the top of the sky just for survival."
Question: "Are you in any of your paintings and do your paintings have any affiliation with your songs?"
Shirley Levi: "Absolutely. I never realized until only last year that I appear as a guest star next to G-d in all of them... surprise surprise... and yes... some of the paintings are my songs translated into visuals. I paint the spirit which is timeless. I mix organic elements in most of the paintings mapping out certain special people's life path which comes from Middle Eastern cuture and Kabbalah. G-d's name is virtually encoded in every single painting no matter which angle you look at it. I don't like to give away all my intentions because it is through an individual imagination or experience that messages are received. I can't plant G-d in someone's mind or create an experience that the individual person didn't have the desire to achieve on their own. I like for people to travel through them and find messages on their own. I give enough away. I love abstract art and I literally see more clarity in the abstract. The imperfections serve as beauty... true timeless beauty which can't be taken apart or dissected... needs to be seen as a whole to remain beautiful."
Question: "What made you decide to paint?"
Shirley Levi: "I kept having ongoing visions in sleep and awake of certain images and so one day I went to the art store and decided to buy a canvas and paints. I just started using my make up brushes and decided to finish every creation I started. My mom saw them one day and convinced me to exhibit them since I was so insecure. Then a former lover laughed in my face and said I coudn't do it and that I wasn't good enough. The next day literally... I got offered an exhibit at a trendy and popuar location in Hollywood and this was the best FUCK YOU gesture. Talents manifest and develop on their very own, only to be recognized and validated into tangible reality."
Question: "Do you sell your paintings?"
Shirley Levi: "I sold some pieces out of pure hunger. I needed the money but I have given a lot of them to people who are very special to me or special in their benefit to humanity. I always get so sad to see them go but close my eyes and realize that they must be given away. There are a few pieces that I have held on to but knowing me... those will probably go as well.
Question: "I've heard you are deeply involved with charity work? Which are you affiliated with?"
Shirley Levi: "Any that cross my path and that are legitimately trying to help. I have a very special place in my heart for Autism. I have supported the homeless since a very young age. I've written songs for many causes. I have given away paintings for Autism, Aids, Cancer, Love... performed at charity events to help raise money for the arts and to help raise money for children in low income housing. Check with me next year and I will have many more in my path. Virtually everything I do is to help. I believe this is my path in life as an artist. Everyone can give what they are the best at. Some have the money and others have other gifts to contribute. I am a writer, singer, musician, artist, director... and G-d knows what else and so I give away my work in paintings or songs to raise awareness or raise money for the cause."
Question: "Tell me more about Autism. I know your song "Anne Marie" is supposed to be about an Autistic woman. Is that true?"
Shirley Levi: "Anne Marie is a very special Autistic woman I worked with. I witnessed the gift in the so called disability they call Autism. In my song you get to know the woman and her talent first before you even care to know she's autistic. I mention again right after that she is artistic. "Spirit fighting mind... spirit shine through"... These lyrics to me show their extraordinary and fascinating gifts which compliment their specialties in each and every one of them. They say G-d gives us in ten folds for that which he takes away. I believe that. Their social skills remain as children... untouched, untainted and very real and sincere... u and pure instincts that can be guided and nurtured to develop their individual special gift instead of neglecting them. I woud love for people to see what I see. To see them through that special place they are here to expose and not just from a medical perspective or stand point. Anne Marie is very special and she represents to me the spirit of Autism". "I see myself in her".