Here's the deats!
Levyi-Alexander J. Love is an artist born in Toronto, ON. His passion for music and poetry really comes from a deep need to be seen, heard and understood by an entity that can hold him as he evolves and searches for himself, through himself. Levyi is a mostly self-taught singer/songwriter and poet who creates art that promotes people to connect and feel all their feelings as they come; you can say his art gives people permission to be.
I have had the blessing of being in the same spaces as Levyi-Alexander Love for years. He is friends with some of the very best and creative people in the GTA, and it is evident that this is because of who they are as a person. Levyi is authentic, genuine and hilariously funny. Every time their name pops up on Facebook, I know I am in for a laugh. When we met on zoom to discuss their curated, In The Moment, showcase set in collaboration with BSAM Canada for the 2021 Toronto International Festival of Authors, I had been putting off going to the gym since morning as I decided I would instead finish the last episode of You before work. After some minor audio issues on my part due to headphones connected to multiple devices via the blessing and confusion that is Bluetooth and some momentary fetching of toast by Levyi (oh, how hunger always strikes during zooms!), we got to chatting. So I sat in my apartment, talking on zoom with Levyi, in my workout clothes, unexpectedly getting in an ab workout due to all the jokes.. Thankful that once again my path had crossed with the stunningly talented, funny and kind person that he is.
We, of course, like any Caribbeans conversing, got off-topic, quick. Still, nonetheless, we delved into a beautiful conversation about the challenge many artists face, the act of letting go and letting art breathe and be and the importance of representation.
We started off talking about the challenges of planning a show in the middle of a pandemic. Communication is a sore spot for everyone during the pandemic, and artists are not exempt, even if we are known for telling stories.
Levyi: I feel like we just got into a groove, so I would love for them to work with us again. I already have ideas for what I want to do, give other POC communities platforms.
Shelly: I am more aware of your individual work. How long have you been curating?
Levyi: I would have to say 2019, I used to run this open mic called Unobscured, and the idea behind it was to showcase queer and trans talent from people who are Black, Native and people of colour.
Shelly: What do you think your biggest lesson was in this curation?
Levyi: I had the opportunity to look back at the show, you know, cause being all exclusive, like executive preview, I felt really important.
Shelly: That is the tough part with pre-recorded stuff. When it is live, in-person, you do it, and it’s done, but I feel that being able to look back at your work before it is released into the world is very uncomfortable.
Levyi: When I tell you, I literally voice-noted Nico and had a breakdown! I was so upset because my set, the way I performed, was not at all how I rehearsed. I was like, ‘Yo Levyi, you sang this song 100 times.’ But then Nico was like, what are you talking about?
People are going to have very different experiences from my show. So for me to be that difficult on myself is actually kind of unrealistic.
Transparently, I just missed a couple notes. I have been a perfectionist since I was a kid. This was really about relinquishing control, 99% of the time, people do not see the mistakes you think they are seeing. As long as the heart and the intention were there, it will be beautiful every time, regardless of how it plays out. This was a great lesson in learning to release. My favourite band of all time is Lord Huron, but I listened to one of their things from 2018, and I thought this was not your day!
Shelly: That’s the wording! Not your day. Sucks when that’s the day people are looking, but it happens. I think a mark of a true artist is that a single performance is not going to define your career if you are a true artist who is putting out work. So that is why it is okay to mess up.
*admits embarrassing mess up with poetry living forever on youtube and shared widely
*imagine Levyi belly laughing and letting out a very audible “WOOOOO”
…the more I got in my way trying to perfect it, my tongue was going to fall out of my mouth, and English was going to just leave my entire body.
Levyi: The irony of that statement and what has me laughing every time is the entire premise of the song is: What if I got out of my way and let me bloom, like let me become who I am supposed to be.
Shelly: The irony!
Levyi: Right! Really painful irony but you know but an irony nonetheless.
Shelly: What was your vision of the show?
Levyi: The whole idea behind In The Moment is really just to capture artists in their element, doing what it is that they love, doing something that is true to them.
There were so many trans guys a part of the set, 3 of them were on stage at the same time. There was like a gay guy, and there was a bunch of different people, different versions of humanity on stage all at once, and they were all black. For me, that really spoke volumes. Not only is blackness not a monolith, but humanity is not a monolith.
I want to see more of queer black people and trans black people like in your face. You can never say now, oh, I’ve never met a trans person before. If you go to this festival you can never say you never met a trans person. You can never say, oh, black and gayness that don’t work, there is literally a gay guy singing to you right now. His colour didn’t magically change. He didn’t become white as soon as he stepped into his identity. He didn’t just shapeshift. He is still very black.
Shelly: What are you most excited about the show’s streaming, and what is the biggest impact you want to come out of it?
Levyi: I am excited to see the performers’ reactions. It was really well done, well-edited, well-produced, the whole nine. Harbourfront really outdid themselves. I am very happy about that. Kudos to them, super thankful to them.
I am also really nervous, to be honest, because sometimes people may think I am too much or something or think I don’t take this seriously or whatever. That is just how I host. I just want to laugh a little and have some fun.
I thought the set would be nice to have a breath of fresh air, a little recess break to watch a show, and then go back to talking about books later and having that duality go on. I am excited to see how it all meshes together, and hopefully, it blends together well.
Shelly: I feel like it would be great to do it in person! I am super excited for the show, and I can’t wait to see it!
Expect the unexpected when it comes to Levyi and BSAM Canada, you give us a stage and we will make the most of the opportunity that we possibly can. Not only do we live in the moment, we live for the moments.
If you have made it to the end of this article, thank you for being in the moment with us and taking time to learn about the show and the wonderful Levyi. If somehow you are confused and still not convinced that Levyi is the best of the best, watch the showcase and support them as an artist and a curator.
And Levyi, thank you from all of us at BSAM Canada for the work that you have done and do. We admire you as a person and an artist, and this is just the beginning for you.