A Conversation With Levelle London: “I want to influence listeners and show them that there’s a whole theme of music that you’re missing out on right now.”

Sweeney Gloria

By Sweeney Gloria

Sweeney Gloria

15 Jul 2021

Our music climate allows for more than one definition of what an artist is or, perhaps, should be. Still, Levelle London is indeed an artist – in all of its traditional meaning and glory. 

Levelle’s rich discography is simply an extension of his deep-rooted connection to music, particularly R&B. Even when he isn’t holding the mic, the engineer is nurturing the sounds of other musicians. A life truly anchored by the passion for his craft.  

Following the release of his sixth musical project, ‘Reassurance‘, Levelle and I connected over an afternoon conversation. His organic and transparent aura led us to gems throughout, whilst we unpacked the singer-rapper’s 10-track tape, his unique journey and R&B culture. 

With music that seamlessly cruises through the feels of alternative R&B, melodic hip-hop and everything in-between, Levelle London should occupy a place on every playlist. 

“I’m just going to come out and say, I saw you years ago at an open mic in Brixton…” 

L: Is it?! 

“Yeah! You and Alicai were on the line-up that night. You’ve really kept it going, so let’s throw it back to the Levelle who was doing open mics and just trying to break through!” 

L: I think it was 2016. I started way before that but by then, I had reinvented myself. I went back to the drawing board and did open mics to network. I wanted to shut down shows even if I wasn’t on the line-up. I’d take my people with me… we’d make noise and film it. Promoters would want me on the line-up after each show – it was a formula that I planned out. 


L: When you met me, it was a Nina Rose event. She approached me two nights before at another open mic. I had just met Alicai as well; we were both in the same circuits just doing our thing. That time there, I’d say, developed my first project. 

“As quite a fresh artist at the time, talk about where you got that formula and strategy from?” 

L: When I first started doing shows, I was quite young in 2008. From those experiences, I learned what to do. I took a year out to study the music, learn how to produce again. I studied music in college and I kept in contact with people who shouted me for shows. It was just a little bit of everything that I had taken from before.  

“Who was it that started you off in this music thing… who did you learn the game from?” 

L: Growing up I wanted to be all types of different R&B singers. When I got into secondary school, I wanted to be the biggest grime MC. I was listening to P Money, Bashy, Giggs and stuff like that. I was there for the beginning of the new culture. I was inspired by how they crossed over. I really just wanted to be an artist since I was a kid.  

“This is a brilliant background.” 

L: It was a mad different culture back then – Chip just had “Who Are U?” on Channel U. I was even in a boy group. Everything music, I’ve tried. In terms of building my own fanbase, I grew up working with Little Simz. She was always ahead and gave me ideas like making promo projects. I saw Lady Leshurr’s whole setup when I sang backing at one of her shows. It just inspired me to think more strategically in terms of marketing myself as an artist. 

L: I was doing that in 2009! I was rapping verses and singing on the chorus, so my rap verses became melodic. I was rap-singing in the key of the beat, not realising what I was doing. When Drake came out, I was like there’s someone doing it properly now. 

“Do you feel your music fits with the UK’s wave scene?” 

L: It fits everywhere. I’m versatile and I have phases where I might make total trap songs for two months. Then, in my next phase – I call them ‘bugs’ – might be six Afro tunes. 

“It sounds like you’re constantly making music, so how do you know when a song is a good song?” 

L: I’m making some right now! When I listen to sounds, I see colours. Sometimes they’ll clash and I’ll stop to change something. I know it sounds weird, but, to me, when all the colours are aligned it works. If I don’t believe myself, I’m not gonna let anyone hear it. Also, I have people that I trust with their musical ear. Mostly, I make music that I get gassed about. 

“I’m looking at ‘Reassurance’, your latest project. For someone who makes music so frequently, how did you decide on the 10 tracks?” 

L: I have so many songs and make playlists of what could be a project. With Reassurance, it was a weird journey. My last project’s (Dusk) base genre is R&B, but there’s a lot of other sub-genres. The ‘bug’ came again when I remembered why I started music. I made a singing song and it felt so good. I locked in with producers and Reassurance became a full circle moment… I’ve gone back to my roots. The project was originally gonna be called ‘R&B’. 

“Ah, and then we switched it to Reassurance because…” 

L: I wanted it to have a theme and there was a certain feeling I’d get when listening to the songs. It was gonna be called ‘Rhythm & Blend’ but ‘Reassurance’ made me hone in on a certain type of feeling or subject. It helped me select the songs, you know what I’m saying? 

“Is being honest and open in your music an uncomfortable process?” 

L: Uncomfortable? Yes. A problem? No. In everything that I do, I tried to lead by spirit and what I feel connects me to God. There’s some sort of message, inspiration or vulnerability that can hekp someone else. As long as I do that, that gives me the fulfillment from making music. 

“That is an A* answer. Let’s talk about your features, since you’ve only got drafted in two singers…” 

L: That was organic. I made the song with Rebecca Garton last summer. When I heard the beat, U thoiught she’d sound sick on it. We have the same manager but we’d never made a song together. With Ling Hussle, I was in ‘bug’ mode. I wrote the verse and chorus which reminded me of Ling so I called her. She did it and that was that. Both made the project because it wworked. 

“We can definitely hear the organic connection. It might not have been intentional, but R&B needs this kind of co-sign, particularly from male and rap artists. What do you think?” 

L: The singers are out there. Our major platforms are catered to and dominated by Hip Hop. The market where R&B is at its biggest is in America but America’s R&B artists aren’t even dominating the UK charts like they used to. It’s a culture thing. We used to have a whole R&B culture back in the day, but we’re in a season where UK rap is having its time. I don’t doubt that R&B will follow, so I don’t think we’re in a bad place.  

“Oh, yeah! Go ahead.” 

L: The world has sped up so much. People don’t wanna think – they want escapism and party stuff. The music that makes them feel like that is gonna be on top. Gatekeepers can choose to play more R&B if they wanted to because the artists are doing what they need to do. 

“I totally agree.” 

L: There’s people doing things. Nadia Jae and Ace have done R&B shows. It’s the R&B fans that need to make that big. You can’t make Drill fans get into it. I’ve recently realised, the listeners are older and the yutes aren’t growing up on the R&B we grew up on. They’re not gonna feel it how we feel it. If they think Summer Walker is the pinnacle of R&B, then that’s gonna be the sound for the next 20 years.  

“For any upcoming R&B artist: would they have to be real with themselves and produce ‘R&Blend’ music for the new market?” 

L: It depends on what you want. If you wanna be the biggest artist in the world, you’ll have to understand what people want to listen to. Traditional sounding R&B has a market, but it’s not the masses. If you can find a niche following, great. If you wanna be relevant to everyone, you’re gonna have to ‘R&Blend’ it a little bit. 

“Spot on. I want to ask you, should an artist like Drake ever be able to win an R&B award?” 

L: Why not? Who decides what R&B is now? If it’s got rhythm and blues, then who are we to say it shouldn’t be awarded if it’s a great song. Find Your Love could’ve won an award, why not? T Pain came and did something different, but we still call that R&B. The world develops and everything changes? 

“Right! Back to you, though, Levelle. Are you cruising through this independently or are you signed?” 

L: It’s just me and my manager. I did have a label services deal from 2018 – 2020, and I didn’t really enjoy it. I’m a reactive creative and being in a deal can makes things a longer process because you go through so many people. I was on tour with Geko and the songs I performed weren’t released yet. I couldn’t get the label to release it. I need a team that can move when it’s time to move. 

“It really is about having that solid team. Now that we’re out of COVID, what should we anticipate from Levelle London?” 

L: I’m gonna continue to push Reassurance. It’s not club-heavy, but the sound is timeless. I want to influence listeners and show them that there’s a whole theme of music that you’re missing out on right now. I’ve missed the stage, so I do wanna perform and I’m always making music so… you never know! 

My picks: No Risks + Gold Mine + Alfredo 

Reassurance is available on all major streaming platforms and you can lock in with the man himself right here