Josh Levi On Viral Moments and Working On His Debut Album

Josh Levi’s musical journey traces back to his upbringing in Houston, where he discovered his passion for singing in the church. From those beginnings, he honed his craft and later rose to prominence as a finalist on The X Factor. Josh’s journey reflects not just his vocal presence but also his dynamic presence on stage. Recently, he created a viral moment with his song “Birthday Dance,” showcasing not only his musical talent but also his ability to connect with a global audience.

In a conversation with EBONY, Josh Levi opens up about his Houston roots, sharing insights into his musical journey from H-Town to LA. As Josh continues to make waves in the industry, he provides a look into his creative process and the anticipation surrounding his debut album.

Since you began singing in the church, did the thought of venturing into gospel music ever cross your mind?

That will always be a part of who I am. That church was the foundation of my story for me and my relationship with music. I think that’ll always be part of who I am. That always might be a part of the story in the future. I love God. Gospel is what made me fall in love with music, essentially. 

How do you feel growing up in Houston and later moving to LA has influenced your music and overall artistic style? How have these different environments shaped your creative perspective?

Houston has such an influence on my music, I don’t think I realized it until I grew up and came into myself more. I love percussion so much. I love bass so much. That’s something that Houston is known for. Now my approach to making music, those are kind of like the centerpieces of my sound; one of the most important components to my sound and I think I can blame Houston for that. I’m not sure how LA’s had an impact on my sound. I’ve learned a lot more about music history. When I moved to LA from Houston, it was mainly just gospel. Towards the tail-end before I moved I learned more about R&B and Hip-Hop. I learned the music history and a lot of the older artists and artists that I love today. I got into them more when I moved to LA. 

Image: courtesy of Atlantic Records.

Fans wanted you to follow up with a sequel. What was it like to continue the Disc One/Two series?

I loved the world that I created with Disc One and Disc Two. Initially, I was thinking of making a trilogy as an idea. Instead, I was just paying attention to the fans. I have so many songs, I have so much music and I was like maybe I can just do a deluxe because I still feel like I was expressing the world of Disc Two. I didn’t quite want to move on from it. I had records already. I never stopped recording. It just came down to what songs fit this world and are a part of the story. Some of the songs like “Ego”, for example, I recorded during Disc Two, and it didn’t make the original cut so we added it to the deluxe. “Birthday Dance,” I had that for a minute but it also was kind of new. The songs that I added to the deluxe were in some way a part of the Disc Two era. It was nice to extend the chapter and create another installment of the world that I’ve been creating for the past two years.

What inspired you to create “Birthday Dance”?  

If I can say so myself as Josh, as the artist, in my opinion, my music is on the darker side, edgier, and mysterious. “Birthday Dance,” to me, was one of my first songs, in my opinion, [that was] more happier. I don’t know why but in my opinion, because maybe you ask someone else and they’ll say “No it’s a dark song.” Sometimes I can’t tell. I felt like it could make people smile and I loved the idea of the contrast of that. I was pushing for it to be a part of the project. The song is about not having a reason to feel good, be happy, have a good time, or dance like you would on a special occasion such as a birthday, an event, or a holiday. Taking that same experience that people have on specific days and giving people a reason or an excuse to have that feeling at any time of the year. That’s what went into creating that song and what it’s about. It’s been beautiful seeing people bring that to life who are not celebrating their birthday, but hear the song as if it is a dance song. This is a soundtrack for me having a good time.

When you first noticed your song going viral on TikTok, how did you react and what went through your mind?

I always believed in this song. I believe in everything that I put out. Otherwise, it wouldn’t see the light of day. I have a lot of faith and I do believe in the things that I’m creating. I’m just patient with myself. It’s hard to judge your success in today’s era of music. It’s hard to stay confident because everything is so confusing, everything is chaotic. There are so many different metrics but for me, I always just stay putting myself out there and putting my music out there. For “Birthday Dance” specifically, I remember choosing to use my sound on a video and I was in my head that it was kind of stupid to put my song on this video. Even though it came out about two months ago, I still think this song can make a lot of people feel good. I went ahead and used my song as a sound. Just seeing it travel in a short amount of time was truly wild. I’ve gone viral before. I’ve had moments where videos of mine or photos have gone viral but having a song of mine travel the way “Birthday Dance” did, I haven’t experienced that. I’m extremely grateful. This is something that I pray for and work hard for and just to see people all around the world connecting with something I created is the dream. It’s the goal. It makes me happy to see each day different people discovering the song, discovering me and my whole discography and all the stuff I’ve just been putting out. It’s a blessing.

Image: courtesy of Atlantic Records.

Can you share the inspiration behind creating your rendition of the Boyz II Men classic “Let It Snow”? What unique elements or personal touches did you bring to the song to make it your own?

That was another inner child moment for me. The older I get the more I’m trying to heal and nurture. Just pat on the back little Josh and bring him along for the ride. “Let It Snow,” by Boyz II Men was truly platinum in my household growing up on Christmas. It was my dad’s favorite Christmas song. It’s ingrained in my brain and I love Christmas myself. I’m like Mr. Christmas in my family. I hadn’t put out a Christmas song even though I love it so much. It was another genuine, authentic thing that just made sense to me. Boyz II Men is my favorite group and I chose that song to put out. It was hard recording it because the harmonies that they do are so crazy and spectacular. I ended up getting most of the notes and the harmonies that they did. I added a few of my own. I changed one snare and the kick is a little bit different, but I wanted to keep it close to the original because it’s such a classic to me.

Are there specific challenges you’ve encountered during the creative journey of making your debut album? If so, how do you overcome them?

Yes, I am working on my debut album. I have been working on it for some time now. I heard someone say that your first album is the only album that you spend your whole life making. I feel like I’ve been working on my debut album for a long time. There are thousands of challenges. I feel like I’m having the hardest time because I’m so ambitious. There’s so much that I want to say, so much that I want to articulate. I’m having a very challenging time … there are highs and lows. There are moments when I have the story I want to tell. There are moments where I don’t know anything. It’s teaching me so much about myself. It’s inspiring me because I’m challenging myself; just when I think something is good I want to outdo that. Create a body of work that reaches people around the world connects and changes people’s experiences in life and gives people a soundtrack to their life. That’s not an easy thing to do, it’s been a roller coaster and I’m having fun. I love when I’m creating, I cannot wait to share it. I think I’ve reached a new personal height for myself. I’m excited to share this R&B body of work and story that I’ve been creating and putting a lot of time in.

The post Josh Levi On Viral Moments and Working On His Debut Album appeared first on EBONY.

Updated: December 29, 2023 — 12:02 pm