Although Levon Vincent has seen his profile rise dramatically over the past 18 months he’s anything but a newcomer. Having spent nearly a decade making house music after many years studying music generally, Vincent’s recent fame can be seen only as welcome payoff to someone who has spent his fair share of time in the trenches. Enmeshed in the much-discussed revitalization of New York house with his own imprints, Novel Sound and Deconstruct Music (with Anthony Parasole), alongside Jus-Ed’s Underground Quality stable, he blends his influences into a thick, rich soup of raw house music that finds him wearing his heart on his sleeve. LWE caught up with Vincent in Paris before his appearance at Rex Club kicking off a month of touring around Europe to discuss everything from Thriller and Discreet Music, the newest musical instrument in his arsenal, and the struggles of being a vinyl proponent in America.
You’re a self-professed “lifelong student of music,” so let’s start from the beginning. What were you listening to as an adolescent?
Levon Vincent: Thriller. Absolutely, I’m just that age where that was a pretty mindblowing… well, Off the Wall actually. When Off The Wall came out I must have been five, I guess. You know when you start listening to music for yourself, instead of what other people are playing around you? When you’re becoming aware? Thriller was a big one. My mother had a huge record collection. I used to go through her records a lot, and one of the records she had was Discreet Music by Brian Eno, which was such a left-field record compared to this Mickey Mouse Disco record I had and liked a lot. Peter and the Wolf as well. I loved Peter and the Wolf. And Synchronicity by The Police, that’s 1980, when I was about five years old. That’s when I started choosing to listen to music.
Discreet Music is the one that probably took enough times to listen to at that age for me to just even wrap my head around it. Just to even discern the beginning and the end; that’s probably why I make electronic music. That and Michael Jackson, and “We Are Family” too, Sister Sledge? That record was all over the radio, I loved it. The chord changes are great.
How did your studies at SUNY inform your current productions?
I learned a lot. I learned how to be consistent, that’s probably the biggest thing, and I loved all the theory. I don’t know how much of it I use, honestly. You have to go through it and learn the rules, and then you can choose to work with them or without them. I mean it’s an informed decision not to follow the rules, you know? But what kind of musician doesn’t know the history of music? It was good for me, but I’d still be making music. It gave me a bit of edge, work ethic-wise, because I took it very seriously and threw myself into every aspect I could. But I would say consistency is the big thing; I learned how to be consistent. You sift through all the knowledge that has come before you and you take what you want and leave the rest. For example, I learned about proportion. For years I couldn’t get away from it, but now I’ve internalized it. I would check my work and my arrangements. One way to be consistent, over several tracks, is to have similar proportions. It might just be one defining value, but you have 62% of the whole, and then 62% of 62% and 38%, 19%… if you have actions happening at all of these, I call them “pressure points,” then, in a college setting, they would tell you it would be considered perfect form. But that’s not true any longer. If you look at the romantics, they pushed those pressure points out. Beethoven pushed it out to like 85%, that would be like trance breakdowns, those giant breakdowns that are so epic. Those are romantic. The old idea of proportion is no longer valid, so I’ll have my own proportions, but the only thing that does for you is allow you to be consistent ten songs later.
You’re back in New York now?
You took some time off for a sabbatical in Indiana. How did Indiana affect your output and how has the move back to New York changed things?
Well, I went to stay with my aunt and uncle. So it was a really loving, family situation. It’s not about the outside elements; I can’t say I even really went outside much. You could call it a sabbatical, but the guys in the music industry call it the “woodshed”; that’s an old jazz term. Every musician at some point in his life would have to go out into the woodshed. Guys like Coltrane, what they meant was you take your instrument, you go out into the woods, you build a fucking shed and you don’t come out for a year. I was just woodshedding basically. I didn’t go out at all except to focus and work on music. The environment was important to me because New York, you know, is a tough life.
I injured my spine a year earlier, and it wasn’t that I wanted to go to Indiana or anywhere, it was that I lost everything. My record collection, my house. It was necessary to recover, to get enough mobility back so that I could walk. I didn’t walk for a year, the first year after I hurt myself. I fought as hard as I could to keep my house and to stay but I lost that and moved to Bed-Stuy and managed to stay there for another nine months. But I couldn’t walk, couldn’t do anything. It was really hard on my girlfriend at the time, and I don’t blame her, but eventually she got tired of waiting on me hand and foot. It really came down to “Okay, that’s what family’s for in the end. Sometimes you just can’t walk, so you go to your family and they’ll feed you.” So I had that reason to go there, but music-wise it was good because I never stopped working. So I took a negative and made it into a positive. It was cool also because they love bluegrass there. Indiana… I mean I’m surprised it shares the same country as New York. I had never been there before and it’s as different as going to one of the countries in Europe, culturally. It’s vastly different, in many ways. So it’s good to shake things up. You take yourself out of your comfort zone; it was good to be a little uncomfortable.
So now I’m back, I moved back in November. I haven’t written any music yet, I’m still building a studio. I got a piano on Sunday, which was a big thing, and then I have to put foam on the walls and stuff like that. I probably could just get to work; it’s not like I’ve ever had these things like foam on the walls, so I probably could have just moved, sat down on the computer and started working, but I’m just excited to be building this little room where I can work professionally. If I were to just sit down and start working I don’t think anything would ever get done, so I’m just putting things together one by one. So a new computer, treated walls and this new dope piano, and you might not hear from me for six months. I bet by the fall I’m hitting people over the head with releases.
You said yourself that “Double Jointed Sex Freak” was the best record that you had ever made. Why is that?
Well it has the most colors that I’ve managed to put into anything. So think about tone color melody. There’s not a hierarchy of notes by pitch value, like melody, but there is a hierarchy of these tone colors and that’s something I’ve been working at a long time and not been able to turn into something listenable. Maybe it’s not the best record I’ve ever made, but I think it is. That was really a proud day when that one came out. That record was also three years of work. I just felt like I hit a milestone there; I don’t know what I’m gonna do next.
Well, how do you top something that’s such a personal accomplishment?
Yeah, there’s all the psychology involved in that. I mean, I love solo activities; that’s why I make electronic music and am not in a band, because I’m a control freak, I guess. But I also skateboarded when I was growing up, and that’s something (Yoga is another good example) where you’re not comparing yourself to anything going on around you. These are just exercises in self-awareness in a spiritual sense or just giving you wisdom as an adult.
So now I’m seasoned. Not necessarily in the industry, but I’ve been making music for like twenty-five years, so I know not to psych myself out, so you give yourself a little pat on the back and then you keep going. As far as what’s next, I did a breakdance track of “These Games” off Novel Sound number one, and I’m sitting on a few tracks that I know are strong enough. I mean, I know what’s next, it’s this Novel Sound compilation that I’m doing, but I’m still putting things together. I want to do this new label called Live and Breathe.
What would distinguish that from the others?
The cut. I know enough about mastering a record now. I like a bit of a hotter cut than I’ve been doing with Novel Sound. It’ll be drastic enough to seem like a really abrupt change. Plus the Novel Sound stuff gets bootlegged quickly. It’s literally the day I release it that it’s put up, so I think that all the pirates have caught on to the name. I don’t think they give a shit about the music. I mean they sell my music as mp3s on these illegal sites for like $0.10 each or something. So it might buy me some anonymity. I think a lot of guys do that, just stay one step ahead. Maybe you develop a name, and then all these pirates figure it out. So I mean Shed does Shed, Equalized, you know, and that’s an age old thing. They even used to do that with bootlegging, I mean proper bootlegging when guys would actually rip a record.
I also don’t want to be the flavor of the month. I’m trying to build something slowly, and I feel like I got a big break with exposure. But that’s just one idea, I’m really just brainstorming now. There’s the Novel Sound compilation, the Live and Breathe idea, and then if I were to do the comp I may do one or two releases in the spring, but I think what I want to do is go back and lower my profile. And then with this new piano, I mean this piano is great. I hope I make tracks again, it’s been over a year since I had a piano. So I’ve just been using these MIDI controllers, and they have keys like a piano, but there’s no response. There’s no dialogue happening between you and an instrument, it might as well be a laptop keyboard. So I might just take some months out to dick around on the piano and have some fun. So these will all happen, it’s just a matter of when.
And I’m kicking Anthony [Parasole] in the ass every day to make music, so I went on a forum and announced that he’s got a release coming on Novel Sound. So now he’s got no choice but to make the record! [laughs]
Anthony’s interesting because he’s not a computer guy, he just doesn’t like them. Everyone has their own way of working, he’s just not a software kind of guy. He’s really great with hardware, but making stuff on a computer is just not fun for him. And I can be the same way, I really hate the technical aspects of it. How I got studio proficient was we had this cat, Mona; she was the love of my life. Back in the 90′s I had a ton of hardware and cables and this cat would just randomly be knocking shit out; it was like a game to her. But so Anthony got a 909 and he worked with Fred [Peterkin] for the “Party People Clap” remix. Fred sat in the pilot’s chair and Anthony could really focus on getting the concept down, and you can hear it in the track. Fred’s stuff is really warm, but when they get together it’s really jacking.
Right, I noticed that it didn’t really remind me of the Black Jazz Consortium material. It was very techno…
Totally, and that’s Anthony’s influence, with Fred getting on board saying, ‘Yeah, I believe in your vision.’ His style is just like he DJs, he’s got a tough style when he plays. He’s really great and talented, very visionary. So, yes, Anthony Parasole, Novel Sound. [laughs]
Back to “Double Jointed Sex Freak” for a second. Do you think it’s raised the bar for you?
No, I haven’t put anything out that I didn’t think was suitable on my own labels. I did some stuff before that I’m not proud of, but I consider my catalog to have started with my labels. I think the bar has been the same every time. “Is this the best I can do?” It always meets the quality that I need, so the next one will too. You know, you try not to read the reviews and stuff, because it’s bad for your self-image. It can have negative consequences, so you try to avoid it, but sometimes you just can’t. Like occasionally someone will just be nice and post it on Facebook or something. Or when you go to stores to check distribution you have to see that they’re selling it for the right amount, that nobody has jacked the price up, that they were able to get copies, etc., and you’ll end up reading what they wrote. The thing that’s interesting about my perspective is that I know where I’m going next, and they don’t. So I have a perspective of the entire narrative, and it’s unfolding to you in real time, but to me I’m seeing the present, past and future all at the same time. I’m actually doing it, so I know where I’m going next as far as the musical direction. Whether it goes on Live and Breath or wherever, I think it’ll be of the same quality.
Any chance you’ll tell us about Rebecca?
Let’s just say that it’s been ten years since I saw her, but I’ll never forget her.
You run two record labels, both which are almost exclusively all your own releases. Do you see any stylistic differences in your output on Novel Sound and Deconstruct?
No, it’s more about not putting all your eggs in one basket. I started them both at the same time and the idea was to alternate them. For Deconstruct, the idea was just to get with Anthony since I knew he had something to offer. You can tell by looking at the Deconstruct releases. It’s hard enough for me to get the music done. The stamina required to make music for a living is enough; I can’t even fuck with the visual. So you can see with Deconstruct, aside from Anthony coming up with the name and all of that, we get these special stamps made that go over the inlay of the record. They’re so cool. For Novel Sound I just go to Kinkos; I’ve got enough on my plate as it is. He brings the cool factor to the label.
With the first releases, what I said in my head was that the Novel Sound format was one jam and a couple maybe more experimental jams where I could be a little more free. The Deconstruct records are just jams. We don’t do four tracks on an EP or any of that. It’s just for DJs only; one track on each side, thick nice cut, hot press, all of that. So the idea was let me do these guaranteed to sound good in a big room tracks, and then on Novel Sound I’ll get maybe one big track and then I can fuck around a little bit, or take some left and right tunes. I think that went right out the window though after the first release; now they’re just all over the place. You come up with all these ideas, and then when it actually comes to practice you’re just holding on and you end up throwing away some of these concepts. You may go in to do one thing and come out with something different, but be even more happy than you were. In then end, you just do the best you can.
From my perspective at least, Novel Sound seems very much like your label, whereas Deconstruct is more of a group effort. Why would Anthony’s first single come out on Novel Sound instead of Deconstruct?
This is what I mean about the advantage of having the future in mind. I mean, Deconstruct number four is by me as well, but Novel Sound is just due for a collaborative effort. Of course Anthony would do one on my own label because we’re best friends and that would be cool. He thinks so too, he wanted to be on Novel Sound. We’re friends, we push each other harder; for him, it would be exciting to do a record on Novel Sound. It would be obvious if he did one on Deconstruct.
Novel Sound is a bit more personal — like “novel” is my name backwards — I’m doing all the A&R, I don’t have to run anything by anyone. Anthony and I discuss things about parties, releases, even buttons. I was like, ‘Should we do “Deconstruct” across the button? Or do we do “De’-’con’-’str’-’uct’”?’ So, you’re right that Novel Sound is, in the end, my final say, I just think it’d be much cooler in the end if he did one for Novel Sound as opposed to Deconstruct.
Novel Sound and Deconstruct have been, since their inception, vinyl only labels. I know that you’re a big proponent of vinyl, but many labels focusing on the business side see “vinyl-only” as an impossibility these days. Do you see vinyl only labels as a feasible way of getting your music out there, or have you been tempted/felt compelled to start offering digital versions?
No, but I don’t want it to be vinyl only. I’m just one man and I can only do what I can do. Vinyl is what I like. I don’t have something against the digital… well, OK the thing is this. I do have something against it because I don’t mind paying for my records. The real truth about a lot of the push towards digital is that they can trade files and it’s cost effective. I mean that’s what people dance around when they discuss this vinyl/digital debate. You might see a debate on the blogs, but no one will just come out and say “It’s cheaper! That’s why we’re doing it!” It would actually probably be a more convincing argument than some of the fucking esoteric shit they’re talking about.
About it being boundary pushing, etc…
I mean, whatever. Vinyl is still king. And I am very excited about people experimenting with new ways, and I’ll be the first on board the second I see something with promise. I don’t think there’s romanticism in eras of equipment. Like some guys will be “I’m only analog; I only use stuff from the 70′s.” You’re still suffering from future shock, asshole! You do what you do to get the job done. You have the music in you’re head and you figure out how to get it to exist.
As far as not selling digital, it’s true that I don’t really understand it, it’s not really the top of my list. I mean no disrespect to digital guys, but I have my hands full. I can’t go out of my way to make shit available for people who are stealing it from one another; it’s the most non-sensible thing to me to put in so many hours just to fail. And it’s a failure to me personally. The thing about vinyl is I always figured I’d be a postal worker anyway, so I’ll do this for a couple years and then go get a job at the post office. That’s not gonna upset me because I didn’t think I’d get rich in any aspect of life, so if I can do what my dream is then that’s what I’m gonna do. And, of course, I play vinyl. So I have to do my format first. If I can get to it I’d love to make everyone happy, and I will one day; I dunno. It just seems like a vapid pile of shit because they’re infinitely replicable. But I’m happy; I love vinyl.
But I will of course do digital, and soon! I never wasn’t going to do digital, it’s just a matter of prioritizing, and of course it has been lower on the list for the reasons I just laid out. But I don’t want to deny anyone music in the format of their liking. I bet within one year I am able to handle the workload and offer digital.
You do all the distribution for your own labels, and I noticed that your records are harder to get in the U.S. than in Europe. Have you found it harder to get your records out there in America than in Europe?
I decided with NS04 and DEC-03 to go door to door in America. I got hooked up with a new distributor for Europe (and I think they go to Japan as well), but for America I said “You know what it’s like three or four stores; I don’t need anyone to tack on a couple of bucks to bring it to them, I’ll just do it myself.” So the reason you didn’t see the records in America for two weeks after the European release was to stay true to form; that’s just how it works. Most guys follow the European sites so they know what’s coming up in a few weeks. In a sense it’s free promotion if all the guys in America are on those sites anyway. I mean that’s how I’ve been buying records for ten years; the stores get them in Europe and then two weeks later in America.
So I didn’t stress getting them to the American stores immediately, I knew I had one or two weeks there to make people’s mouth’s water. It was scary enough to be sitting on enough copies to literally bankrupt both my projects and not selling them right away. You’re right that there’s not much money, so there’s a lot of stress involved when you’re doing it on your own. It might actually keep the bar higher, like you said; I’m still at that point where if I have one flop it’s the end. The projects are still in their infancy. I don’t mind taking baby steps and growing slowly and keeping the bar high, because I think that I have always remained loyal to people who have remained loyal to me. So I just take it one step at a time.
A number of your tracks have flecks of the dub techno palate in their tones and timbres. A lot of producers are really taken with that sound; what makes it so striking to you?
I don’t know that I like a lot of it, to be honest. I like Basic Channel, but I don’t really play dub, I’m probably not in that category. You know what it is: crossover appeal. But what I’m crossing over to is another wierdo genre. I mean I play house music, I consider my music house, but what I’m trying to do is, I guess, related to the process of globalization. That’s the era we live in. If you take elements from various cultures, and even different cultures in electronic music, you’re showing all the similarities between, say, the black music of America and what the Europeans are doing. You take the German sound and you combine it with the New York garage sound. There’s plenty of differences among races and cultures, but can you show the similarities? That’s a real test of a musician. When you can show that we’re not all that different, that’s some timeless shit.
I’m still a student of music, I’m still learning things. I think there’s as much Middle Eastern tonality in what I’m doing as Berlin timbres and African rhythms. Those tone colors… well, you wouldn’t call them tone colors; klangfarben is a German word, but the composition of tone colors based on intervalic frequencies is Middle Eastern, not Western. Western is dominant pitches, and Middle Eastern is working within the harmonic series, within partials of a fundamental, based on either simple ratios like 2:1, 3:4 or really intense ones like 17:33. I like to think that I’m doing the best job I can as I learn about incorporating these. I don’t even know if that’s a good thing, but it’s happening, so you try to guide it peacefully. Everyone’s mobilizing. You’ve got these different camps of like born-again nutjobs and fanatical 9/11 guys, people who are afraid of globalization. So your duty almost is to soften the blow.
I think the Berlin style with the strong delays is just coming straight from the heart, from loving that sound. I love Deepchord too, and Huckaby. I do love dub techno, but I don’t really play any of it. Maybe one track every couple of hours I’ll dub out a little bit, but my shit’s dubby enough. I don’t need to go full-blown under the dirt. The dubbiest I’ll get is like one of my records, and that’s the furthest out I want to go.
Your NY Basement Mix of Mike Dehnert’s Umlaut2 recalled some of the older styles of New York house. Is this something you plan on doing more with?
Yeah, I’ll do more of that. I really want to work with a vocalist, which will be more of that street sound.
Like full-blown vocal house?
Sure, why not? I mean that’s the style. I remixed Jody Watley once, N’Dea Davenport, that’s a New York tradition. You do the underground records and then you remix the bigger tunes. Hopefully I’ll meet a girl who can sing and wants to be in love and we’ll go off somewhere for a couple of years and you won’t hear from us, and then we’ll just come out with the greatest record either of us had ever done.
That record was really taking the piss. It wasn’t really a prank but it was a kitschy record, I mean to do something fun and not so serious. The shit on my label is a bit more serious, so I had the opportunity to have fun.
Your productions tend to have a balance between letting elements loose to do what they will and very tightly reigned sounds. What kind of “uncertainty” do you like to imbue in your tunes?
Yeah, like in “The Medium is the Message” I take a couple of left turns. We’ll go away from home for a little while, and then I’ll bring you right back home. I think the tunes just write themselves as far as that goes. I’m just doing my best to make my point each time, so I don’t think there’s a technique there. That’s the musicianship, the aspect that’s from the heart. You take all the technical stuff and all the theoretical stuff and you put all these elements into play and stir the pot. That’s the solo of the jazz musician, the arrangement is the actual, tactile, musical aspect of what we do as electronic musicians. So that’s just right from the heart, it couldn’t be done if I was thinking about how to do it.
Your music has a sort of roughness that most attribute to analog machines. What is your current studio set up like?
I have one Roland synthesizer that I’ve had since I was like six years old. I know that thing inside and out, it’s like my left arm. I can go right to it and dial up something I can imagine. I had all my shit in storage in Queens when I was away; the only thing I brought with me to Indiana was two synthesizers and I’ll track into the computer. But it doesn’t matter to me, I never subscribed to this idea that one piece of gear from 20 years ago is somehow better than something else. It seems so absurd to me to try to define yourself in those terms; there’s things you love about the old and things you love about the new and you try to put those things together. When I got back to New York I got out of storage a Linndrum, so I’ve been playing with that lately and a Sequential Circuits six-track. I’m nerdy about music but not so much about the equipment. I’m not bending circuits or anything, but I took the sides off of it and replaced it with clear acrylic in the 90s so you can see through the whole synth while you’re playing it, and that’s pretty cool. It’s like my Cadillac of synthesizers and I haven’t used it since the first Deconstruct record. I’m really excited to break it out again because I missed it a lot when I was out of town.
The biggest thing I’ve done is replacing the piano I lost when I hurt myself. I just picked it up, so that’s like the coolest piece of gear that I’ve had in a long time. It’s not a real piano, it’s digital, but it’s got real keys. I have some percussion that I like to dick around with. I can play bass but haven’t been able to play since I hurt myself, so I can’t really do that anymore. Maybe a tambourine would be cool. Lately I’ve been doing this “death stomp,” I don’t know what you call it but I call it the “death stomp.” Hitting people with the tambourine on the one with the kick drums, I call it the “death stomp” but I’m sure there’s a name for it. I used it on the remix for DJ Qu and also the Nick Chacona remix that just came out. There’s something just really cool about it, just sounds like some tribal… death stomp. I dunno! [laughs]
How has the glowing reception your last two years of output has received influenced the way you make or see your music?
It’s a balancing act. You don’t want to buy into your own bullshit, no one does. People who do that move to Berlin and do coke for the rest of their life. It’s more opportunity for more demons, basically. But it’s also incredibly validating. It is literally a dream come true to be able to put out vinyl records, it’s one of my life’s goals to be able to make records. It’s the greatest feeling in the world as well, but I just want to keep my head down and keep working.
I want to do music as long as I can, but I want to be able to hear it as an old man as well, so I don’t want to blow my ears out. I bet I have five more years in me, with my back as well, and then maybe I’d like to teach, or work at the post office or anything. I can always play piano but I can’t produce something and not be able to look back on it. There is a journey of personal experience in there, so you have to preserve that for reflection for later in life. I’m just enjoying the ride. I’m so grateful, I got to a point where I really thought I was a complete failure and that it would never happen. Maybe I would do a couple records for other labels but that I would never be able to do my own label. I’m just lucky.
Tell me about your first label, More Music. What led to its demise, and why do you think the labels created in its wake (Novel Sound/Deconstruct) have been so successful?
I don’t think More Music was ahead of its time in any way, but it’s the same style that I’m doing now. I took More Music to the distributors and they said, ‘This sounds like old house music, I can’t sell this.’ So I couldn’t get distribution, and that made it pretty difficult. I was also acting like a wild animal throughout my twenties. The thing about our industry is that it’s a labor of love and it takes twenty years before you can get the consistency down. That’s one of the last concepts that you wrap your head around. You’re trying to carve out your own voice. It’s adult music that has life experience behind it. It’s instrumental for one, so you have to have a palette of experiences to draw from just to convey anything. It’s much harder to do something instrumental and say anything.
I was thinking about reissuing one of the More Music’s actually, but I think I’ll just let sleeping dogs lie. One thing I did that a lot of people thought was interesting was I was sitting on several hundred copies of them, and when people got the Novel Sounds they were like, ‘Give me those old ones,’ and instead of redistributing those I just ground them up. From a business standpoint that’s pretty stupid, but it was a positive move for me. When I made More Music number one and took it to the distributor he literally said, ‘What the fuck am I supposed to do with this? It sounds like house music from 15 years ago. You are so out of touch with what’s going on right now.’
But then it came around; with More Music number three and number four, I sold them to other labels. Number four eventually got licensed by Ovum and number three came out on a label called Superfreq. But I don’t consider any of that my catalog and I can pretty honestly say I hate that stuff. I think I didn’t get it right. Chrissy Hynde said this, but when you’re younger doing music it’s a struggle to define truth, what truth means to you. It’s an exercise in truth. When you get older, you’re talking about how you define truth. So I think the first label was just trying to find my voice. But who knows. Maybe I’ll reissue one. There’s one tune I like a lot, with this melody. Every few years I’ll pick up this melody and try to do something with it, it’s called “No More Heroes,” it was the first one. So one day I bet I’ll do something with that melody again. Sometimes you just write a winning melody.
You and your friends Jus-Ed, DJ Qu, Fred P and Anthony Parasole have been seen as a very tight group pushing this new New York house sound. Are there any others operating along similar lines that you think people should keep their eyes out for?
Hmm… Joey Anderson. He runs a label called Exchange Place and he does records with Qu back and forth. But there’s not really anyone else in New York doing house music. You have the minimal techno guys, Plan B, and you have the DFA camp, who’s kind of New York-based, this rock hybrid. There’s Dope Jams, they don’t really do records but they know what’s up. They’re definitely doing their own thing. Some of that shit is so refined as a personality of its own. This idea of this cult of personality, DFA does it really well where the kids in Indiana or wherever will go buy a DFA record if it has that logo on it, just based on the brand. Dope Jams really knows what’s up with that kind of thing. It may not be this idea of… well, I don’t want to say we’re reinventing anything because we’re probably not doing anything that special, but the influence of the street sound of New York is in the Underground Quality records.
You’re not afraid to experiment with your sound; it’s hard to pin down what exactly one might expect in a new Levon Vincent record. Where do you want to take your audience in the future?
I know where I’m headed, but I won’t spoil it. I wouldn’t know how to put it in words but I can hear it. I’m only just getting started! It’s limiting enough to just do electronic music; I’m not going to just do tracky-tracks or vocals-only things. There are self-imposed limits. There are a million ways to use software. That’s what’s so beautiful about the era we live in, things are almost limitless. It takes twenty years to define your voice, but it turns out it’s simple. You just define your own boundaries at any given point of the process and the secret of consistency is to remember those boundaries for the next time. I think I’m just working within certain limits, and then within those be as inventive as I can. Then I can add a new element every once in awhile if I’m up for it. It’s just a balancing act.