Sometimes, a cover song will hit so hard that people forget it was done before, like the incomparable Whitney Houston’s top selling single of all time “I Will Always Love You.” For Bronx native, singer/song-writer, Levina Lye the art of her song covers are rooted in her soul. When the cover of The Weeknd’s single “Wicked Games” was banned in Germany and from mobile devices, #teamlevinalye unleashed it on the world’s largest social network , Facebook. The steamy girl on girl video featuring Playboy Live’s Honey Lynn has reached over 130,000 Facebook members and continues to be well received by industry executives and the general public. Conquering heartfelt renditions of hits by chart busters like Rhianna, Adele and The Weekend, coupled with provocatively vulnerable videos this burgeoning songstress has captured audiences with her ability to make popular music her own.
The 22-year-old Puerto Rican/African American beauty attended Catholic school in New York when her parents uprooted from the Bronx and the tranquility of life upstate is where she nurtured her natural ability and discovered her love for poetry and music. Music gave way to an artistry that would help her get in tune with the emotions of transitioning from adolescence to womanhood grappling with loneliness, fear, hope and peace. With her upcoming EP “Pieces of Me” Levina Lye gives you the most intimate pieces of her life through her music and the feelings are paramount in every delicately maneuvered octave scaled by the vocalist. The single “Fade Away” is currently available and Levina Lye has a conversation about all the pieces of her.
AllHipHop: How old were you when you started writing?
Levina Lye: I actually started writing poems at 15 and when I turned 16 I was like oh shoot I can write songs.
As a singer/songwriter why did you decide to start remaking cover songs to release?
Initially, I did put out original music but no one would really give me the time of day because my former management didn’t really know how to market it. My new project manager and me then sat down and said how can we make people know who I am in a way that’s familiar to them. So we decided to do covers and I started picking cover songs that pertained directly to what I was going through or feeling so that’s why they came out so passionate. They’re other peoples songs, but it’s the way I felt.
What I loved about the Rihanna song was your passion and vulnerability gave it a different feel from Rihanna’s rendition of “Love the Way You Lie”. How do you develop your interpretation to make it your own?
I really focus on the lyrics. I really focus on the words they wanted portrayed because sometimes artists don’t really write for themselves so it’s harder to try to tap into that emotion. I truly understood what that artist meant so it was easier for me to just go in and say boom bam, this is mine now. This is Rihanna’s song but this is my version of it and sometimes people like the rendition better than the original.
With respect to The Weeknd’s cover of “Wicked Games,” I read about how important it is to you that people live their truths and in that video, your truth is told in your performance to a female lover. What made you choose to do the video in that way?
Well I really like the song and the message of the song. I truthfully didn’t want to take anything away from what The Weeknd was saying. I thought how can I switch this in a way that I can do it because he was talking about a girl. I said let’s have a girl in the video. Let’s truly show what this song is really about because beyond all the sex appeal and all that stuff there really was a deeper message. The message is about how people use things like sex, drugs and alcohol to escape which kind of ties into my single “Fade Away”. I guess I’m just a deep thinker, everything I do there’s a message behind it if you really pay attention. There’s more than just sex, drugs and pretty girls.
So when we hear your own music, who will we find out you really are?
I’m human and by that I mean I go through hurt and pain. I have my struggles. People have to sit down with me and help me understand things sometimes and all that good stuff. My music speaks a lot about who I am. My EP “Pieces of Me” will pretty much define me.
Tell me about the single “Fade Away”.
“Fade Away” is about any type of escape that anyone uses. Life is hard and sometimes you do need that drink after work or that friend’s shoulder to cry on, or something else. That is what “Fade Away” is about. It’s a feel good song for whatever you do to make yourself feel better.
How did you get into music at this level?
I met Be N Original, my wonderful project manager, who changed my life. He’s definitely someone who has been on my team and in my corner from day one and without him my team wouldn’t be a team.
To be so young you seem wise beyond your years what or whom do you attribute that?
Well, I pay attention to life. I pay attention to the things other people go through and I watch the struggle from that. There’s always room to grow from watching other people even though it’s sad, it’s still a learning experience.
In the current landscape of female entertainers what do you look to contribute to the world of music?
I feel like I’m going to be one of those artists who helps bring back the true essence of music and what it means to feel. When you sit down and listen to a body of work and actually think and dwell on it and tap in to some type of emotion that hasn’t been tapped into for a while, that’s really what I want to do is be a person to inspire for the better.