Bernie Lev • Golden Hour

Photo by  Glenda Lissette

Last week, 21-year-old artist Bernie Levv was covered in our weekly column Home Team, where we highlight local Chicago artists that stand out as something special within the buzzing scene. Following up on that getting-to-know, Bernie Levv teams up this week with the These Days team to premiere her sophomore release, Golden Hour. The eight song project is a proper follow-up to last year's SIGNS, which was one of my favorite Chicago releases from last year and featured a who's who of local production talent. On Golden Hour, we see Bernie expanding her sound, molding R&B with tendencies of soul, disco and hip-hop, which is paced throughout by her work with a multi-faceted cast of friends from around the city and beyond, including Netherfriends, Kez the Dude, Will Miller, Carter Lang and Carl of Hurt Everybody who just so happen to be some of the more talented names in the Windy City. The evolution from SIGNS is palpable and at once recognized as Levv takes numerous calculated risks that seem to pay off wildly throughout. Leading up to the release of the full project Levv premiered her lead singles ("Passing" & "Want It") with Okayplayer and Saint Heron and set the tone for a wide-ranging project. Angel Davanport of The Rapper Chicks also makes the lone female appearance on the project, offering up some sinewy bars for the temperature-rising single "Up & Down".  On top of premiering her album today, I was also fortunate enough to catch up with Ms. Levv about the process behind her album, how she approaches her craft, and how she refuses to be boxed into one particular sound. Be sure to read the Q+A below while you enjoy the latest offering from one of our favorites in the Windy City. Without further ado, we give you Golden Hour. 

How has 2015 been treating you?

2015 has been like any other year, equipped with its fair share of challenges and triumphs. I never have any room to complain, though. I love every second of it and the growth that develops me into the person I’m supposed to be.

How do you feel you have grown since releasing SIGNS last year?

Well first of all, I have features [laughs]. I believe I’ve grown just in the sense that I’m playing with different sounds as well as gradually disciplining myself to be very attentive to every single detail including instrument, harmony, and content.

You’ve dabbled in soul, R&B, and even disco. Do you have a particular sound you’re trying to tackle with Golden Hour?

Nope, I love them all so I’m going to do them all and I’m not going to box it in by connecting it to any specificity. I take this principle and apply it to all things in my life. I’m just going to do everything I want because as a human I have the right and ability to do so.

How did the collaborations come about for this project?

They’re all very good friends of mine as well as people I respect greatly as musicians! Netherfriends and I connected by just hanging out in his attic almost everyday and just coming up with new ideas. The intro features him, Will Miller (trumpet), and Carter Lang (bass). The song stems from a jam session Netherfriends had in his attic about a year ago in which he came up with a loop, I added vocals and Will joined in on trumpet, all improvised. Will and I loved the turn out so we scheduled a session with Carter who recorded me and added bass. The song is one of my favorites because it was definitely a team effort. Qari (Carl) [of Hurt Everybody] is one of my best friends and we have a bunch of music together that’s just us fucking around. And Angel and I have a long musical history as well as friendship, I love her solo work and work with the rapperchicks.

Who were some of the producers you worked with on this release?

Kez The Dude from New Deal Crew produced most of the tracks on this album. He is, in my opinion, the most talented producer out, period, right now. I had so much fun working with him on this. He’s so detail oriented and his sound is a brilliant blend of house, disco, and soul. It’s perfect.

What can we expect from you for the rest of the year?

A lot of random tracks, I’m just going in the studio and really exerting my whole self and I want to share that instead of withholding my work for so long. That drives me crazy!

Any final words/thoughts/shout-outs?

Shout out!