Written by Mateo J. Biggs
“Making the world a smaller place, one song at a time…” is not something you would think of when imagining a songwriter who grasps his audience’s attention with acoustic guitars and rhythmic beats notable only in the indie genre. Silver Spring, Maryland born and raised, the Brackety-Ack was lucky enough to have Washington Area Music Award two time winner and SAW Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Competition winner(2021) Eli Lev reach out for an exclusive interview. Eli Lev will be performing in Roanoke, Virginia on October 27th, 2023 at 3rd Street Coffeehouse.
Q: You were an English teacher on the Navajo Nation for a while, what made you decide to switch your path in life?
Eli Lev: “I was an 8th grade middle school teacher and pretty much taught in Arizona, Israel, Andorra. I got my masters degree in Indiana. Well… after my master’s there was this moment where I just didn’t have a position or a job lined up. To see what would happen if I took the chance, I started with a show at a coffee shop in DC. There was a traveling musician coming through and they found me on Facebook and asked me if I wanted to play. It was the catalyst and I went from there. There was a part of it where I wanted to know what it was like deep down, the other was a happenstance that the musician asked me to perform.”
Q: What would you say inspires your music? Between tonal choices and the keys you play in music, what inspires this?
Lev: “I think, really, that my experiences with different cultures; from the Middle East to Europe to indigenous cultures– these different sounds all are universal and I think my music incorporates the sounds I have picked up along the way.”
Q: What is your goal in music? Many media say that it’s for “us to come together as humans”, do you think you are achieving this?
Lev: “Music is incredibly powerful and is a way for humans to connect and create a community. It is absolutely happening on tour, people are enjoying the music, they are clapping and engaging. It is an amazing experience and I would love to continue to serve people through my music. I work hard at it and I’m glad people are saying what they say about it.”
Q: Out of many more well known cities in Virginia, or on the east coast in general, what made you come to Roanoke?
Lev: “So when I reach out to venues around the country, I’m essentially exploring. I give a bunch of towns and spaces a chance to share my music. 3rd street coffeehouse was like “yes please”, I was happy to take them up on the offer when they showed they were interested. It’ll actually be my first time playing in Roanoke.”
Q: You’ve played internationally, including a European tour at one point, what has that experience been like given where you are from?
Lev: “I was in France, in Spain, and in a small country called Andorra where I lived for a few years and my last European tour was right before shutdown. I was back on a plane as everything went down and I was very lucky to come back. It was amazing, sharing the “americana”. They were great audiences and very appreciative of my music.”
Q: Many newspapers and magazines online have claimed you to be of the Indie genre, what exactly would you claim your music to be?
Lev: “I would describe it as John Denver and Jason Mraz had a musical baby. It is folk, pop, lyrically forward and heartfelt. I think it is accessible.”
Q: What inspired you to make your debut release “Four Directions”? Your newest EP “Walk.Talk.Dance.Sing”, what would you claim the theme to be?
Lev: “”Walk.Talk.Dance.Sing” is essentially the pandemic mixtape. Each song is in chronological order, each is an exploration of the lessons I was learning; an internal monologue of everything that was happening during the shutdown. These songs are the time capsule to keep all the lessons I have learned with me, internal reflections and lessons.”
Q: You have been featured on many online medias such as “Buzzfeed”, “CBS Radio”, ”AXS” and “The Bluegrass Situation”, what made you reach out to “The Brackety-Ack”?
Lev: Whenever I play in a new town I want to make sure to connect with the local community. It’s important to let people know that an event, a performance is happening. I reach out to outlets that I think their audience would be interested in the music and I let them know. With the Brackety-Ack, I think the college demographic is an important audience since they are the tastemakers. What I listened to in college has stuck with me all my life so I hope that through my music they will continue to carry it through their formative years and their lives as well”