Singer-songwriter and producer Sophie Bialostocki, also known as Lévyne, has a habit of delivering upbeat alt-pop tunes with honest and relatable lyrics. Her latest single, Call You Out, couples a dynamic and lighthearted musical vibe with a personal tale of losing friends. She talked about it with former uni classmate Nur Lajunen-Tal. Made with support from NZ On Air Music.
Previously living in Tāmaki Makaurau, Sophie Bialostocki chose May 2023 to move across the globe to London. She says the decision was spurred by a simple desire to see the world.
“I’ve always been interested in living life as big as I can, and I just realised one day that I’d really like to experience life outside of NZ, and in different countries as well. It was part self-discovery, and part seeing how far I could take things elsewhere, as well. I’ve been here for one month now. I went to Spain on a holiday earlier, which was nice!”
Since Bialostocki last spoke to NZM in 2020, she has been very busy, releasing music prolifically and working as a mentor for organisations such as Women About Sound, Making Waves, Big Fan Ignite and Woodcut‘s free online producer program.
“They picked a number of people and had a number of mentors, and we basically met up once a week for 12 weeks to work on some tracks together and do that kind of thing,” she explains the Woodcut program. “I’ve done a lot for younger people who are high school age or just leaving high school, just basically encouraging them and teaching them a little bit more about audio recording and songwriting.”
Bialostocki also writes and produces for other artists. “It’s really fun,” she says. “I learnt a lot from just researching online, and I also learnt a lot from watching friends of mine and doing sessions with other producers. I’ve become a really good songwriter since I last spoke to NZ Musician, and I love writing for other people!”
Recording as Lévyne her newly released single Call You Out was written with close friends Harry Charles and Ash Wallace (Foley).
“We kept joking about needing to have a session, and so one day we jumped in the studio, and we start the song. I think at first it was just some cool guitar chords, and Ash just jumped on the bass and started grooving away.
“I was thinking about the topic for a while, and I knew that I wanted to write a song about it, and that seemed to be the day that happened. We tried to keep it really light and fun, and have lots of fun in the studio with it, while I was exploring this idea of losing a friendship, cause I guess that’s what the song’s about. It’s about wanting to do everything you can to fix something, but the other person not being willing to work on it, and so you just lose that friendship. It was a heavy topic, but a really fun day. We kept a lot of room noise and gang vocals and bits and pieces in the back, to emulate this fun friendship kind of vibe underneath it.
“I think that the post chorusy, bridgey bit (I don’t know what you’d call it) is kind of the main crux of the song, I guess. The main climax of it is saying, ‘I just wanna call you and talk to you, but I never manage to get through to you. I thought this was what friends would do, is talk about it. Is this not what friends would do?’ Every song of mine’s from personal experience. I very rarely write fictional songs. But sometimes they’re about a couple of different things.”
Talk of songwriting from experience leads on to discussion about how the some songs can change meaning over their life. Bialostocki says it happens all the time for her.
“I think almost the most authentic way to write songs is to go off one idea. And then by the time its meaning has changed it reveals a part of you that you need to address, or think about, that you didn’t actually know was there before.”
Call You Out is not the first song Bialostocki has written about not fitting in, it’s a topic she feels is important to discuss.
“I think it’s something that everyone feels all the time, and people don’t actually talk about it as much as they should,” she says. “I know I found that back at home, I’d have friends who would disclose to me that they felt a bit left out, or like they didn’t fit in with certain groups of people. But no one really talks about it, and no one really addresses it.”
The song has a visualiser featuring Bialostocki staring moodily into the camera, interspersed by shots of her dancing in a parking lot. The video was directed by Dexter Cheng.
“It’s not an official music video, but it’s something to go along with the song. We basically just wanted to have a bunch of footage that encapsulated this fun night or day that you might have with your friends, running around doing random stuff. It reflects the kind of thing I used to do with the friends that the song’s about. We would hang out in carparks, and we would just randomly find playgrounds and fields to hang out in.
“We tried to marry that idea with looking into the camera and being like, ‘I’ve been trying to call you, what’s going on?’ Because it’s just a visualiser, there’s not that much behind it really. I feel like with a music video, you put a lot of emphasis and a lot of time into a story and a vibe, and properly recording everything and getting it really perfect. With a visualiser, it can be really nice to just let it go and do something a bit silly.”
Bialostocki is excited to reveal that Call You Out is the third single from her upcoming sophomore Lévyne EP.
“The EP has I Don’t Think It’s Me on it as well, and Call You Out and Hospital, and three new tracks. That’s what I’m trying to set up while I’m here in London. It really represents a specific time in my life that I’m super fond of, and I’m really excited about it. I put my first one out in 2019, so it’s been a long time. I have definitely had more than enough music to put out so many EPs since then, but I find the process really difficult, so it’s taken me a while. It feels like the right time to put this one out now!”