Today’s Feature

We’re lucky here at PEV in that artists come to us in many ways – sometimes we find them, sometimes they find us. Fusion rock guitarist Udi Levy was an artist we didn’t know much about when his name first crossed our desks, so instead of diving into his bio first, we went right to the music. And I swear to you, our staff had to check multiple times if we were still listening to the same artist as the instrumentals clicked on; we use the term eclectic perhaps more often than we should around here, but if you’ve ever been rocking out to a guitar solo that teeters on the edge of some pretty heavy metal, and then hear a cashmere Udi Levyunnamed-1smooth jazz ditty next, you’d be wondering what the hell was going on as well. But Levy – he somehow dances beautifully between multiple genres – almost showing off at times his versatility in between them. Udi, who grew up in Jerusalem, has a musical past that’s reflective of his omni-taste in sounds, jumping from metal bands to jazz to country to rock throughout his career. He’s earned a reputation as a high-profile session player and lead guitarist around New York City (currently endorsed by Suhr Guitars), and even landed a few hits with his first release, Smooth Jazz Tales.

Today however, we’re here to discuss Levy’s latest effort, something with a sharper…more dangerous edge, an instrumental collection titled Addictive Substance. We asked Udi for the download  – he said to expect, “Diversity for the most part! This CD is basically combination of all the styles that I like to play warped in a Heavy Rock package. Composing was surprisingly easy, sometimes it came from just warming up before teaching and I had an idea for a song…after that I continued to develop and shape it.” Click to  to have your socks rocked off by this guy’s talent and Addictive Substance specifically – he’s a guitar player we’re embarrassed to say we weren’t aware of until last week. But first keep reading! There’s still so much more to dive into in all the answers to the XXQs below.

XXQs: Udi Levy (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from others in your genre?

Udi Levy (UL): My style is based mostly on rock instrumental but because of my Jazz and fusion background, sometimes the progressions and harmonies are stretched to these realms. Still I do try to stay true to my main style.

PEV: What kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

UL: I basically listened to any music my older sister had listened to. She had a lot of Jazz and Soul music cassettes, like Anita baker, Charlie Parker, John Lee Hooker just to name a few. Later on, my friend introduced me to heavy metal like Iron Maiden and more. My first concert was in the music school where I started to take music and guitar lessons…we played a Grease medley and “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica.

PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started? What was your first show like? 

UL: There weren’t a lot of bands where I grew up (Jerusalem)…and for a relatively small music scene city, it wasn’t that difficult. I was in a heavy metal band at that time and after a few shows we were right into the scene…with all the others. The first show was very exciting; it was in a small venue in the midst of Jerusalem, and because there was not a lot of heavy metal back then, the venue was packed with eager teenagers.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Udi Levy show?

UL: Even though some of the tunes are written, a lot of my tunes are open to improvisation and my band and I are always keeping it fresh and exciting.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?

UL: Hope all my equipment will work and I really hope not to break a string (laughing)!

PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?

Udi Levy4unnamedUL: The energies that you get from the crowd are amazing and each and every show feels like it’s the first time that you are playing the tunes.

PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music? 

UL: Everything that happens to me in my private life inspires me to compose and translate it into melodies. It helps me to stay balanced; composing for me is a great way to look into my inner self…like a good meditation.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?

UL: Of course. My career and music changed a lot over the years – I started in a heavy metal band, switched to Jazz and then back to rock, in between had a lot of projects with different styles like country and RnB. It amazes me where music can take you.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?

UL: I’m maintaining a very healthy life style.

PEV: What happens when you hit a brick wall when writing? What are your methods to get over it?

UL: Simply keep on trying! And not think about it too much. I see it more as a process, something is boiling up inside and will come out when it’s ready. Thankfully it’s worked so far!

PEV: How do you think the industry has changed since you first started out?

UL: The industry changed a bit of course for good and for bad. It’s easier to get exposure thanks to social media (YouTube etc), but because of it there is a lot more music out there, so you still need to be unique and push your music hard to surface above it all.

PEV: What can fans expect from your upcoming instrumental album, Addictive Substance? What was the writing process like for this work? 

UL: Diversity for the most part! This CD is basically combination of all the styles that I like to play warped in a Heavy Rock package. Composing was surprisingly easy, sometimes it came from just warming up before teaching and I had an idea for a song…after that I continued to develop and shape it.

PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

Udi Levy10417694_789307254449144_3446422345465621654_nUL: South America. I’ve heard from my fellow musicians that the crowd is warm and is open minded towards new and foreign music.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?

UL: My friends are super supportive, most of them are musicians as well and we help each other out. My family as well, especially my father who always supported my music education and my brother who helped me out in my early jazz career.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

UL: I live in New York City. I’m exploring everything it has to offer.

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?

UL: I would love to play with Wes Montgomery. I’ve always been fascinated by his style and talent.

PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what would you do for a career?

UL: Always was and always will be a musician.

PEV: So, what is next for Udi Levy?

UL: As of now I’m promoting my new album, Addictive Substance, doing clinics and performing in New York City and beyond.

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