Exclusive Interview of Lyto Levitas | The New Hip Hop Artist
1. What is the start-up story behind your sounds & recording journey?
I was introduced to some of the game’s greatest legends very early such as Pac, Biggie, Nas, and Big L amongst others. Hip-hop immediately stole my heart; in fact, until I was about 18 I rejected any other genre a shot. I would put a CD in my WalkMan and try spitting some bars on top of whomever I was listening to just to try and get a feel for the game. That led to me beginning to write some bars to those same tracks. As I got a little older, I started freestyling with people and that’s when I started getting decent feedback and decided this could be something I pursue. I then went to Indiana University for one year for Recording Arts and dropped out when I decided originality is established from within and one can only be taught so much from external sources. So I packed my bags and moved out to Cali at the age of 19 to further pursue my dream. Since then, I have expanded greatly as an artist and believe this decision was the right one. I now continue spitting and also play guitar and a little piano, I produce my own beats, I’ve made great connections, and I even attempt to sing; all of which are things I never did before.
2. Describe your sound concepts, what is it like? What are three words that best define it?
I would say my sound is pretty chill for the most part. I try to have a laidback approach while also maintaining the attitude a hip-hop artist should possess. I’m a fool for wordplay; I love to manipulate sentences and phrases in a clever and unusual manner. In my songs you’ll hear me spit four bars that all are based around the same concept while bleeding together smoothly or they’ll loop back to the original idea or something wacky like that. I would say the three words that best define the sound of my most recent project which, keep in mind, was almost exclusively freeverse style would be: clever, witty, amusing.
3. In three words, characterize who you are.
An awakened dreamer.
4. What’s something that’s always running inside your mind lately?
Something that hasn’t left my mind for so long recently is success. My definition of success is virtually the same as my definition of respect. I don’t need money, I’ve never had it. I don’t need fame, I’ve never had that either. I’m a happy person inside without all that; would I enjoy not tripping about rent for once? Hell yeah, but I still get by regardless without loads of money or fame. I want people to genuinely enjoy my music and appreciate my efforts. I want to hear people bumping my tape as I walk down PCH; that means a lot more to me than money does. Lately, my passion has been growing faster than I ever imagined and it’s literally burning inside of me, I know nothing else but determination and persistence now.
5. Being in your position, I’m sure it can be overwhelming with the workload.
How do you achieve balance in life?
I’m currently living a very busy lifestyle; I work 7 days a week, open to close. As soon as I get off every day, I rush home and start rocking out some instrumentals to write to or I break out my guitar and jam. I’ve also been working on a new style, which is kind of a blend of lyricism and singing on top of acoustics. As long as I’m doing something music related that will help me progress as a musician, then I feel as though I’m accomplishing something. Recently I’ve been doing vocal exercises at work while it’s slow and I also constantly freestyle and/or think of bars in my head all day long.
6. What’s one incident that would serve as a turning point to your life?
I would have to say moving to California. Before doing so, I asked myself “What if I don’t? Will I regret this decision forever?” and that made me determined to follow through. Of course, now I could ask myself, “What if I finished school? What if I stayed in Indiana?”, but I truly feel that the decision I made was the right one. Things are going great out here and everyday continues proving how things are falling into place the way I visualized not long ago.
7. What three pieces of advice would you give to others when it comes to life & career?
My very first thing would be persistence. Never give up and never become discouraged. I know that’s super clich?, but it’s true. Every single one of us has the option and potential to succeed, some just give up too early and that’s the line that separates success from failure. Secondly, I would say attempt to rid yourself of judgment. Life’s too short to judge and in the end it’s completely useless. Rather than judging, we need to try to allow people to judge us and take it as criticism. We need to learn how to take it in a way which we’re able to better ourselves. Why waste your time on judging someone else, when you can judge yourself and in doing so make yourself a better individual? Finally, I would say always be positive and be you. Surround yourself with positive energy or else you’ll feel let down and discouraged all the time which will lead to a collapse of your dreams and visions. Every legend in any field fell into their position due to being themselves and expressing individualism. We’re all unique, be you or else you’re wasting something unique. If you don’t get the results you imagined, don’t let it get to you. Try again and if you have better results, analyze what you might have done to get those improved results.
8. What’s a typical day in your life like?
A typical day in my life is probably parallel to the life of nearly every other middle class American. I wake up, get coffee, work all day, and then go home. When I get home is when things may differ a bit; I focus 100% of my spare time on music. I try to switch it up too, so I constantly expand and progress as a musician. One night I might write some bars, the next I might mess around on guitar all night long, and then the following night I might produce a couple beats.
9. What’s one of the highlighting moments in your career? Why is it so?
Dropping the Plan B EP was a pretty successful moment for me musically speaking. Upon release, it generated 3 times as many downloads as any of my other projects within a single day (the other projects have been available for over 2 years). That meant a lot to me and allowed me to think I’m heading in the right direction. I’ll admit that I’m far from where I visualize myself as a musician, but with that being said, I can also admit to being confident that I’m on the right path.
10. What stops you from throwing in the towel and giving up during those frustrating days of being in this industry?
Honestly, the haters.. when someone criticizes me it makes me want to go so much harder. I never allow hate to discourage me, rather I make it to inspire me. If the first track I ever dropped was mad dope and everyone loved it, I probably would have given up already. Now I’ve underwent a lot of criticism, so I appreciate the appreciation. Since I was blessed to have experienced hate, I now will be able continue pushing and bettering myself even after I succeed. If you don’t fail a couple times though, success isn’t so special. What’s sunshine without rain?
11. Biggest risk ever taken?
I would have to go back to my decision of moving to California by myself. It was such a risk and honestly, a really dumb idea now that I look back at it. I came out here with $750. I spent $500 in gas driving from Indiana to California. I found a place on craigslist where I could live temporarily. It was a 2 bedroom apartment consisting of 6 roommates, which is overwhelming, but it’s all I could afford. It cost $239 a month, so I paid my month and my first day as a California resident I had $11 to my name. It was dumb, but where there’s a will, there’s a way I guess. I’ve now been living in California for 3 years and I have my own place to myself, so I feel as though I may have done something right along the way.
12. Who has influenced you most and been your greatest inspiration?
Growing up Tupac and Biggie were my two greatest inspirations; I’ve never been able to tell someone who I like better out of the two. I feel like comparing Biggie and Pac is like comparing the zoo to a hardware store, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. In high school, I grew very fond of Kid Cudi also. His style and his originality blew my mind. To this day, I still love Cudi and I admire his efforts of portraying experimental and individualistic concepts. Living in L.A. drew me into the California hip-hop scene too, so I also appreciate artists like Dumbfoundead, Wax, and Kendrick. Living on the west coast also made me very open-minded to all kinds of music and you can expect to hear some experimentalism in my upcoming projects.
13. How do you go about marketing your business or yourself? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
I pass out my tape to anyone who I think might be interested, I believe that’s the main way to get my point across. I’ll give out business cards, but anyone can just throw a card away. If you give someone a disc with your music, they’re gonna see it as more of a gift. That will increase the chances of them listening to it rather than a card with some links. We also just recently launched the official Lyto Levitas website which is pretty dope. Social media is a great source too; I use YouTube, SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, and ReverbNation.
14. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
I really try to live life in the moment and never get ahead of myself, but I would like to think I will be in the same position as now just with an exponential talent increase within those 5 and 10 years.
15. What’s the first thing you would say to the world if all attention was on you right now?
All I’d be saying is give peace a chance.
I just recently launched the official Lyto Levitas website which can be found at lytolevitas.com. Check it out!