Dallas-based electronic-pop artist LEV, aka Holly Peyton, kicks off this summer with three release parties for her EP debut “Fear No Evil,” which released on Tuesday, May 26 on Vintage Lion Records. Heading first to ATX, you can catch LEV at the Empire Control Room on Saturday, May 30. (Houston fans can see her at Barbarella on June 3, and Dallas fans can see her at Club Dada on June 13.) We had a chat with Holly Peyton about her work, her upcoming shows, and her debut EP.
Interview conducted by Sara Eunice Martinez
Photos by Aubry Roach
Holly Peyton (HP): I am a hardworking, driven, persistent, fun loving, carefree, down to earth gal. I love coffee shops. I’m easy going, make tons of jokes…like tons! I love adventure and spontaneity, the outdoors, healthy eating clean eating, and staying fit. Nature and mountains inspire me.
Shuffle: Are you excited about your upcoming shows in Texas?
HP: Most definitely. These are special because they’re the EP release shows, which are the official launch!
Shuffle: Do you have a specific city that you are most excited about and why?
HP: Austin would have to be special for me. There is a huge line up of bands that I LOVE and respect, so the fact I’m playing next to them is pretty cool. I love the appreciation Austin has for music and indie artist. Every time I’ve played there the energy from the crowds have been amazing; the turnout is always great. My team is based out of Austin, so I spend a considerable amount of time there. I have made some awesome friends in town, so I love going back and seeing everyone.
Shuffle: Did you ever dream of being a touring artist at a young age while growing up in Tyler?
HP: Oh boy, did I ever…straight out of the womb. I knew I wanted to be an entertainer and would put on shows for my family (whether they wanted them or not), hence the phase I went through where I wanted to be Shirley Temple. I always knew I was meant for something bigger in my life. I’ve never stopped dreaming about it, even today I woke up and that’s still the same dream I have.
Shuffle: What artist or event inspired your drive to become a singer?
HP: Growing up as a small child I was super inspired by a Christian rock band called DC Talk. Their harmonies were insane and their energy on stage was so cool to me at 8 years old. That started sparking me at a young age. I would also watch some of my favorite movies growing up, one of which was Willy Wonka, and think to myself…This guy is quirky and ha an imagination like me; he can entertain onscreen. I loved actors and actresses and would always live my life as if I were playing a role in a movie. When I would go to concerts, I would study every little thing they did on stage, taking notes and imagining myself there one day. I was really into ntertainment and singing is where I found I could shine, so it inspired me!
Shuffle: So LEV was inspired by the Czech lion, could you explain how your name came to be?
HP: When I was searching for the perfect name for me and what I wanted to represent. I knew I wanted it to be strong, powerful and simple, one syllable and nothing people could misspell. So I started the search for alternative names for lion. I found LEV, and immediately knew that was it. Lions have been my spirit animal for quite some time and the fierceness, boldness and courage they portray, is what lives inside of me. I knew for this next chapter in my life, as I come out of the shadows, what better than to go with my alter ego “LEV.”
Shuffle: The first single for your new EP is called “Shadow.” What does the song and its lyrics mean?
HP: That song is really special to me for so many reasons, but first and foremost, I wrote this song about coming out of the shadows and how people think they know you but they don’t. The song is a journey in itself. Through my lyrics you will find that all the while of being in the shadow, it was my shadow standing in my own way the whole time. These lyrics are not only written from my personal journey, but for so many others. I am a relatable person; I feel, and I want my lyrics to be relatable to others situations. One of my favorite lines in the song is “Behind the scenes where the curtain is drawn, that’s when I came out and that’s who I never showed you.” I think that hits home with so many people, because behind the curtain we are our true selves and sometimes people don’t give you the chance to actually see who you are. The song is for those living in the shadows and want to emerge.
Shuffle: The video for “Shadow” has thousands of view on YouTube. Who came up with the awesome video concept?
HP: It was a collaborative effort between myself, my manager and the video director, Jefe Greenheart. Meeting Jefe was so amazing because he didn’t just take a song he heard and run with what he thought would be suited for his liking. He asked me about me as LEV and what my heart and message was behind “Shadow”. Jefe is a really creative deep thinker with the way he executes his vision. It touched me so much that he took the time to really know me inside. After discussing it as a group, the story and concept emerged. I couldn’t imagine it any other way for “Shadow.”
Shuffle: How long was shooting?
HP: We shot this in two, fourteen hour days. I was amazed at the dedication and work ethic of Aaron Brown and Onion Creek, who produced it. The crew blew me away and honestly I was honored that they would shoot even longer than they were supposed to. They gave 110% of themselves and in the process; I made some wonderful friends for life. I think we were all DELIRIOUS at the end of the whole shoot, but it was one of the BEST and most FUN experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I would do it again!
Shuffle: You have 80s and electronic vibe. What inspired you to perform this type of music?
HP: I love electronic music. I love the drive it gives but also love 80’s key synths. R.E.M., The Cure, Depeche Mode, Fleetwood Mac, Blondie, and Michael Jackson were so much fun to listen to growing up. I loved how electronic 80’s always had this fun constant drive to move to it. If you listen closely to the EP, you’ll find some 70’s funk guitar and 90’s sifting through all of my stuff as well. I wanted to keep something familiar of past decades but with a modern spin for today’s music.
Shuffle: Is there a specific artist that you would love to collaborate with in the future?
HP: I would love to collaborate with Coldplay! So feel free to give them my number 🙂 I will be available anytime they want to work together…hehe.
Shuffle: Are you writing new music or are you mainly focusing on “Eye in the Sky” at the moment?
HP: I’m always writing new music, so I’m definitely working on new music in the studio. My biggest focus right now is to get this EP out, have fun playing shows, and get out there and build a name for myself, then later on in the year I will have new tunes for you guys.
Shuffle: Do you have any other plans other than your upcoming tour?
HP: Yes, we have things in the works! We have some festivals this summer, then we’ll see where the road will lead us. Stay tuned for dates late summer/fall!
See the official music video for “Shadow.”