Gio Levy Is Ready to Boogie on 'Beaudacious' New Album: Interview

Gio Levy
Francis Reyes

Gio Levy

Filipino-Canadian singer/songwriter Gio Levy unveiled his album Beaudacious on Saturday (July 15) with a launch party in Manila, Philippines.

Raised in Vancouver, Canada, Levy moved to the Philippines in early 2015. He has opened for Brian McKnight, YouTube sensations AJ Rafael and Gabe Bondoc, plus shared the stage with Montreal-based indie-pop band Stars.

Clearly, however, Levy is his own man, armed with a voice described as "sultry and velvety" and matinee idol good looks. While the launch party encouraged attendees to wear "semi-formal early '80s attire," his sound owes more to retro-pop and R&B of that period than to new wave -- although he does sport a quiff that Morrissey might appreciate.

Fans familiar with the Stages Talents artist could be in for some surprises as he evolves from being a guitar-wielding troubadour on the follow-up to his EP, Half.

"Beaudacious is my evolving out of being an 'acoustic' artist," Levy explains. "I'm currently known as someone who's always with a guitar, so I wanted to try something a bit more funky -- something that people can sway or dance to. I wanted songs I could perform live with a band while I sing and boogie."

Billboard Philippines: Do you remember the first song you ever wrote? What was it about, and how old were you then?

The first song I ever wrote was back in senior high called "Out in the Sun." 16 years old, I think? "Out in the sun, loving the great view/ No need to stress, when I'm out with you." It was just a feel-good tune with major sevenths and very basic pop progressions.

Can you remember the moment when you decided you were going to be an artist? Or was it a gradual, "Oh, I can do this; might as well run with it" sort of thing?

There was a line in a book or an article somewhere that asked, "What would you like written on your grave?" At that moment, I said to myself that I wanted to be remembered as a man who wrote a song that was played in many weddings. From then on, I've lived my life for music.

I've been fortunate to be able to experience working in an office, and it was amazing because the income was steady, and there usually wasn't anything out of the ordinary. But now that I'm living my life as a full-time musician, not knowing what will happen next or who I might meet, or who might interview me, it's been a roller coaster of a ride. And I love it. And when my time in this planet is done, I'm hoping I'll be remembered for the music.

Beaudacious: Please elaborate on the title. How many songs did you write for the album and over what time period?

"Beaudacious" is a combination of "beautiful" and "audacious." "Beautifully audacious" is how I would like to describe myself and this album. Take bold risks and do it with finesse.

The time period in which these songs were written span from eight years ago to three months ago. I didn't start writing for this album eight years ago; I just chose different songs from my roster of unfinished tunes and decided, "Yes, you are going to be released into the world!" The six songs are an eclectic mix of pop and R&B, and you may get hints of the late '70s and early '80s in most of the tunes. Fun, sexy, experimental, catchy: that's Beaudacious for you.

You have a day job, yeah? How do you manage your time, and do the day-to-day practical responsibilities get in the way of your personal creative flow?

My day job is pretty much this. Aside from creating my own material and pushing it with the help of Stages, I'm singing for different events like corporate dinners, birthdays, weddings, or whatever random projects come up. The day-to-day work flow is never the same. I'm doing something new every day, so time management is very interesting.

But whenever I have time off, I'm always writing, producing, recording, or coming up with a new project to do. Because I barely have any redundancy to my day, I'm constantly being creative but I direct my creativity towards productivity. Starting and finishing something helps me wake up in the morning.

Which tune of yours is closest to your heart (for any reason at all)? Which was the easiest to write, and which was the most difficult? And the easiest to perform and the toughest to play live (again, for any reason at all)?

My favorites change all the time but right now I'm really digging "Angel." I like it because the story behind the song is cute, and the beat is really funky. Angel was a childhood neighbor, and the tune is about remembering the good ol' days, how we used to be and wondering how she is and what she's up to.

The easiest song to write was "Friendzone." I have to give credits to Charlene Sawit-Esguerra and Avid Liongoren's work with (live-action/ animated romantic comedy film) Saving Sally. That movie's main character, Marty, irritated me so much in that he played the friend-zone role so well. It's a social issue that I know won't ever disappear from society, but I can at least make an effort by creating awareness through song. But seriously, guys and girls, stop it. Stop getting friend-zoned.

"Struck Out" from the Half EP -- that's pretty difficult to sing. It's a bit high. My single "Let Her Know" is the easiest to sing. I've played it millions of times over the years. The song's 10 years old.

Are you naturally fashion-savvy or do you have to make a daily effort in the name of, well, marketing?

Whenever it's a performance, I will make every effort to look my absolute best. It's an investment, but it's my brand so I have to. Beaudacious music requires beaudacious wardrobe. But when I'm out grocery shopping, you probably won't even recognize me. People who think "That's Gio…" are probably in denial because I look so haggard.

If you had the chance to collaborate with another artist, who would it be?

Internationally, Pharrell Williams. Domestically, I'm a huge fan of so many artists but as far as collaborations where it'll be compatible with my musical direction, I'm still looking.



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