Pop Levi at The Good Ship, London, 2006
|Birth name||Jonathan James Mark Levi|
|Also known as||Jr. Hi, Mozambique Courier|
22 September 1977 |
|Occupation(s)||Musician, Record Producer, Filmmaker|
|Labels||Counter Records, Invicta Hi-Fi, Neon Gold Records.|
|Associated acts||Super Numeri, Zukanican, Ladytron, Bunny Holiday.|
Levi grew up in the suburbs of Birmingham and attended Shrewsbury School, a public school in Shropshire between 1991 and 1994 where he would skip church to write songs in the basement. In 1997 Levi re-located to Liverpool to study at LIPA and formed the experimental instrumental band Super Numeri with Karl Webb and James Morgan who signed to Ninja Tune in 2002 and released albums "Great Aviaries" in 2003 and "The Welcome Table" in 2005. During this period, Levi also played bass for Ladytron live and on the album Witching Hour.
In 2004, Levi released singles "Rude Kinda Love" and "Reindeer In My Heart" on the independent "Invicta Hi-Fi" label set up by Daniel Hunt of Ladytron. A planned follow-up single in 2005 entitled "Kissed Her Sister" was shelved along with the album "Foxwatch", and Levi formed The Emergencies with organ player Jake Field and Zukanican members, rhythm guitarist Dominic Lewington (AKA Domino), bass player Harry Sumnall and drummer James Pagella. The band played regularly around Liverpool as "Pop Levi & The Emergencies" including slots at the Merseyside Unity Music Festival and Unite Against Racism Festival. Now backed by The Emergencies, Levi released "Blue Honey", his last single on "Invicta Hi-Fi", before signing to Ninja Tune. After signing the new deal, Levi moved to Los Angeles which resulted in The Emergencies disbanding. With Lewington still on board, Levi recruited drummer Marius Simonsen and bass player Luke Muscatelli (AKA Lucky Beaches) and the band moved to the US, living together in the same house in Echo Park, Los Angeles. The new backing band was named "Woman".
In February 2007, Levi released his debut solo album on Counter Records, an imprint specifically created for Levi by Ninja Tune. The Return to Form Black Magick Party was self produced and recorded over several years, solely on a lap top, at Liverpool studio/rehearsal space The Kif (where previous Super Numeri albums were recorded) and whilst on tour with Ladytron in a number of different locations in "England, China, France, Greece, LA, New York" such as "on trains, in planes, in warehouses, on the top of Cathedrals, at the beach, in bathrooms, hotel rooms and tombs. I made sure to capture the first take of everything I recorded and then took the tracks to Sacramento to be mixed". The album was toured extensively across the US, UK, Europe and Australia, and was listed as one of Lauren Laverne's favourite artists to make it big in 2007 on BBC Two's The Culture Show.
In July 2008, Levi released the follow up album Never Never Love, which was preceded by the single "Dita Dimoné" which made BBC Radio 6's 'Record Of The Week'. Levi set out to make the follow-up, in contrast to the loose feel of the debut, sound artificial and soulless, that it sounded "like Japanese toys falling in and out of love with each other". The album was recorded at Westbeach Recorders and Westlake Recording Studios, in the same room Quincy Jones recorded Michael Jackson's Thriller and Off The Wall albums. Following the recording of the album, Simonsen returned to Norway and joined pop band Montée and Lewington returned to England, leaving Levi with no band to tour the album. Levi and Muscatelli played sporadic shows across LA as a duo, with Muscatelli shifting from bass guitar to synth bass. Aside from a handful of solo acoustic shows in London, there was also no tour to support the album in the UK either.
2008 also saw the emergence of Levi's World Empire, Inc. film and music production company. In September, the 37th Festival Nouveau Cinema in Montréal held the world premiere of You Don't Gotta Run, a surreal 37-minute docu-featurette directed by auteur Lucky Beaches and starring Levi.
A planned double album of home demos and outtakes entitled "Micro Sex Tapes", which was originally set for release in 2009 was never released. A stand-alone double A-Side single "Police $ign/Terrifying (For Kenneth Anger)" was released in June 2009, with a new lineup featuring drummer Hayden Scott. An early version of Police $ign was featured in the in-game soundtrack of Gran Turismo 5.
In 2009, Levi travelled to Norway where drummer Simonsen was now based to record his third album, tentatively titled "Records", which was intended to be live and raw sounding. The album was recorded in a mountain-top converted barn and re-titled "Smack Musick", however, after being left in a state of limbo for 2 years, with the last scheduled release date being March 2011, it was eventually shelved.
In April 2011, "Levitation Vol. 1" was temporarily made available as a free download via worldempireinc.com. The 14 track mixtape was recorded and mixed mostly in 2010-11 at The White Arc, Levi's studio in Los Angeles. The release was followed up by "Motorcycle 666" in July 2011, recorded during the "Smack Musick" sessions in Norway. The b-side "Rock Solid" was recorded at The White Arc. The single was backed by select dates in London and Liverpool, with a new lineup with Muscatelli now on guitar.
Levi has also produced and performed with Canadian-born artist and American Apparel model Bunny Holiday in Los Angeles and on a five-city tour of China. In 2010 Pop Levi and Bunny Holiday directed the music video for former N.W.A. star Arabian Prince's "Let's Hit The Beach" single on Stones Throw Records. The duo also directed a music video for "The Look" to promote the 2010 VansXStussy shoe collaboration.
Levi's song "Sugar Assault Me Now" was used in the trailers for the 2010 film, Get Him to the Greek and his music has also been featured in numerous television shows including Chuck, Entourage and 90210.
In November 2012, Levi released his third solo studio album Medicine, his last for Counter Records. The album was preceded by single "Strawberry Shake", featuring a remix by Tom Vek, and followed by 5-track EP "Starlight & Wonder Vol. 1". An album showcase gig set to take place at The Lexington, London was cancelled at the last minute due to change in artist management.
In November 2013, Levi released "Secrets" under the pseudonym Jr. Hi via Neon Gold Records, featuring guest vocals by The Weeknd. Levi's management Roxwell had previously confirmed that Levi had been working with a number of artists including The Weeknd, Kimbra, Switch and Robert DeLong. In February 2014 a second track "Trillion Girls" was released, featuring guest vocals from Childish Gambino.
- 'The Return to Form Black Magick Party' CD/LP (UK/US) (2007, Counter Records)
- 'Never Never Love' CD/LP (UK/US) (2008, Counter Records)
- 'Smack Musick' Unreleased (2010, Counter Records/World Empire, Inc.)
- 'Levitation Vol. 1' Mixtape (2011, World Empire, Inc.)
- 'Medicine' CD/LP (UK/US) (2012, Counter Records/World Empire, Inc.)
- 'Blue Honey' CD/Digi-EP (UK/US) (2006, Counter Records)
- 'Sugar Assault Me Now' CD/Digi-EP (UK/US) (2007, Counter Records)
- 'Never Never Love' CD/Digi-EP (UK/US) (2008, Counter Records)
- 'Dita Dimoné' CD/Digi-EP (UK/US) (2008, Counter Records)
- 'Starlight & Wonder Vol. 1' Digi-EP (UK/US) (2012, Counter Records/World Empire, Inc.)
- 'Rude Kinda Love / Clearly Dearly' 7" (UK) (2004, Invicta Hi-Fi)
- 'Reindeer In My Heart / Hayley Square [Instrumental]' 7" (UK) (2004, Invicta Hi-Fi)
- 'Kissed Her Sister / Supermarket Woman' Promo-only CD (UK) (2005, Invicta Hi-Fi)
- 'Blue Honey / Mournin' Light' 7" (UK) (2005, Invicta Hi-Fi)
- 'Blue Honey' 7"/10" (UK) (2006, Counter Records)
- 'Sugar Assault Me Now' 7"/10" (UK) (2007, Counter Records)
- 'Pick Me Up Uppercut' 7" (UK) (2007, Counter Records)
- 'Never Never Love' 7" (UK) (2008, Counter Records)
- 'Dita Dimoné' 7" (UK) (2008, Counter Records)
- 'Police $ign / Terrifying (For Kenneth Anger)' 7" (UK) (2009, Counter Records)
- 'Motorcycle 666 / Rock Solid' Digi-single (UK/US) (2011, Counter Records)
- 'Strawberry Shake' Digi-single (UK/US) (2012, Counter Records)
w/ Super Numeri
- 'Great Aviaries' CD/LP (UK/US) (2003, Ninja Tune)
- 'The Enochian Way' CD (JP) (2005, Counter Records)
- 'The Welcome Table' CD/LP (UK/US) (2005, Ninja Tune)
- 'The Electric Horse Garden' 7" (UK) (2002, Ninja Tune)
- 'The Coastal Bird Scene (Parts 1, 2 & 3)' 12" (UK) (2003, Ninja Tune)
- 'E 5Number' 10" (2004, Pickled Egg Records)
- 'Softcore Jukebox' CD/LP (UK/US) (2003, Emperor Norton)
- 'Light & Magic' CD (UK/US) (2004 Re-release, Emperor Norton)
- 'Witching Hour' CD/LP (UK/US) (2005, Island Records)
- 'Evil' CD (UK) (2003, Telstar)
- 'You Don't Gotta Run' documentary (dir. Lucky Beaches) Hand-numbered limited (50) edition DVD (2008, World Empire, Inc.)
The following are the music videos starring and/or directed by Pop Levi.
|2012||Strawberry Shake||Pop Levi||Bunny Holiday||Counter Records|
|2011||Motorcycle 666||Pop Levi||William Overby||Counter Records|
|2010||Chyna Girl||Bunny Holiday||Pop Levi||World Empire, Inc.|
|2010||Teach Me How To Bunny||Bunny Holiday||Pop Levi & Bunny Holiday||World Empire, Inc.|
|2010||Let's Hit The Beach||Arabian Prince||Pop Levi & Bunny Holiday||Stones Throw|
|2010||The Look||Bunny Holiday||Bunny Holiday & Pop Levi||World Empire, Inc. for Vans|
|2010||Tender Young Flesh||Bunny Holiday||Pop Levi & Bunny Holiday||World Empire, Inc.|
|2010||Tender Young Flesh (Live Cam)||Bunny Holiday||Pop Levi & Bunny Holiday||World Empire, Inc.|
|2009||Terrifying (For Kenneth Anger)||Pop Levi||Dylan Mulick||Counter Records|
|2008||Everything & Finally||Pop Levi||Auntie Mum||Counter Records|
|2008||Semi-Babe||Pop Levi||Aaron Willmer & Martin Dobson||Counter Records|
|2008||Dita Dimoné||Pop Levi||Neil Mclean||Counter Records|
|2008||Mai's Space||Pop Levi||Auntie Mum||Counter Records|
|2008||Never Never Love||Pop Levi||Neil Mclean||Counter Records|
|2007||Pick-Me-Up Uppercut||Pop Levi||Mox & Pop Levi||Counter Records|
|2007||Pick-Me-Up Uppercut||Pop Levi||Brian Harty||Counter Records|
|2006||Sugar Assault Me Now||Pop Levi||Brian Harty||Counter Records|
|2006||Reindeer In My Heart||Pop Levi||Pop Levi||Invicta Hi-Fi|
|2006||Blue Honey||Pop Levi||Christian Swegal||Counter Records|
|2005||Blue Honey||Pop Levi||Jackie Passmore||Invicta Hi-Fi|
|2004||Rude Kinda Love||Pop Levi||Good Times||Invicta Hi-Fi|
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