Since 2018 Sophie Bialostocki has gone under the stage name Lévyne. The Aucklander describes the piano as her main instrument, and a natural knack for a good pop melody and layering of interesting sounds is very much evident on her latest single Look At Me, which made it on NZ On Air Music’s NewTracks compilation this April.
My name’s Sophie Bialostocki. I’m from Auckland originally and I’m a keyboards/piano player.
I was lucky to have very supportive teachers throughout high school and university while I was studying music, they gave me a lot of great opportunities.
Lévyne is my first project!
I wanted the project to evolve from the music I’d previously written. It started in 2018 when I’d been getting way more into producing and co-writing. At that time I was writing songs in my friend’s makeshift studio a lot, and in my friends’ bedrooms.
That’s when I released my first song, Misfit, a song I’d written alone in that little studio and worked on with a friend. I started working a lot more with other people and developing a little community around me. I had quite a few friends starting projects around the same time, starting to creatively commit to something feels natural when you’re surrounded by people doing the same thing I think. Since then I’ve done a lot, I’ve written so much music and played a whole lot of amazing shows and I can’t wait to keep going! I have so much coming…
I wrote songs from a young age on the piano, my first ever public performance of an original was my graduation song I wrote as I was leaving primary school! I continued that way until I left high school, just playing instruments. I discovered production and electronic composition later, and really started drawing from a wider range of things.
Names are hard. I wish I had an easy or unique birth name to work with. I studied geology and environmental science before I studied music at Auckland University and I love that field a lot. Lévyne is a small, pretty crystal that grows on things, a little hidden gem. I think I felt that way sometimes, a bit hidden, and I liked the way the name looked. Now here we are!
I was really lucky to be able to play some songs at the Auckland Town Hall which was cool. Feels like an important stage to get to play on, so many phenomenal acts and musical groups play there.
It just has a magical quality about it that I don’t think I’ve achieved in anything else. It’s fun and playful and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Look At Me came from a pretty innocent place of being anxious for new relationships to start, whether that be good nerves or bad nerves. It’s a little expression of being worried about the future.
It’s so hard, I’m tossing up between the glittery intro and the way the first chorus hits. Lyrically it’s strong too, but sonic things get me the most excited.
The session Look At Me was written in was the first day that Struan Finlay and I had actually met properly. Somehow this little glittery guitar we recorded swept us away and we actually fully produced the intro before we’d done anything else. We had this weird laughing fit of disbelief because we thought the first 30 seconds was just so cool. We were just getting to know each other but we’d found common ground in the idea of starting relationships, so that’s what the song quickly became about, and being anxious something would ruin them.
I’d like listeners to be able to listen to it and be able to relate to those jitters. Maybe it’ll give someone some courage, who knows?
Often having a few songs to compare really brings out the strength of one that might be good as a single. Although, for Look At Me, I knew it would be a single off the bat.
I work with a few producers like Struan, but everything else is myself! Still very much independent in every sense. I’m looking to build a solid team soon hopefully.
Keep your eyes on Lévyne! It’ll keep coming. I’m also the synth/miscellaneous equipment player in another band called Luckyboy^. It’s the eclectic brain child of Simeon Kavanagh-Vincent. We play a decent amount of live shows, ever increasing. It’s unique and theatrical and makes you happy, it’s delightful. Just think of clouds and the colour teal.
I have applied for NewTracks before but this is the first time I was successful. I’ve applied for funding a few times! I think it’s a combination of a few things. First developing a bit of a track record, then making sure your songs are the best they can be, and a matter of knowing what your song is suited to in terms of radio and playlists. It’s just important to know roughly where you might fit in the scene. And keep on trying. Persevere.
I found a number of them hard but I think the key is to keep it up and get creative about avenues you could take to get to where you need to go. Eventually you’ll get there. It’s different for everyone. I’m still figuring a lot out myself!
I read Coup de Main and Pigeons and Planes a lot. I’m quite into podcasts, a few music podcasts I listen to are And The Writer Is, Song Exploder and This Sounds Better. I also love some random facts like No Such Thing As a Fish.
New Tracks is a compilation of new music from New Zealand artists which is distributed to broadcast and online platforms on the first of each month. Previously the Kiwi Hit Disc, New Tracks is one of the ways that New Zealand on Air promotes kiwi music to the industry, radio, streaming services, and media. To apply for New Tracks you must have a completed, airplay-ready song and a promotional plan.