Today we’d like to introduce you to Lev Freedman.
Lev, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Becoming a musician never felt destined for me; I wasn’t in the kitchen banging pots and pans together at 3-years-old, or grabbing toy microphones and singing front and center in my dad’s home videos. I’m not sure I ever looked like an artist. I think music just found me at the right times and filled holes I couldn’t fill. I was the quiet one between my brother and I, and a lot of things I loved remained silent. I had a great childhood and a really supportive family, I just didn’t know expression could be that much a part of life when I was a kid. So a lot of my love for music ended up a pretty private truth for half of my life – I’d always felt an urge to sing but never sang in front of anyone until the end of high school. I always knew music made me feel things other people didn’t seem to feel but didn’t know I could say it. When I found God Only Knows by The Beach Boys on my mom’s first-gen. iPod when I was 8, I’d take it on walks to school or synagogue and stay ten steps behind my family so I could listen to it on repeat. I’d never heard anything like it. I think something in me changed when I realized music like that existed, and again when I realized I could make it myself.
By 16, I was sure I’d go to Berklee College of Music, but my parents and I decided I ought to try pursuing academics first. I got into Brandeis University on scholarship and studied physics and mathematics for two years, but every day I’d come back to my dorm and play guitar or walk to the music building on campus and record drumming videos. After a year at Brandeis my family and I went on a trip to Tanzania and I got really sick and on the flight home I made the decision to pursue music for the rest of my life. It was a terrifying and unbelievably freeing realization to have. Choosing to do what I wanted with my life felt like a panic attack and a sigh of relief all at once. But a couple of weeks later, I brought up Berklee again to my parents, and with their approval I applied to transfer. I got in September of 2015 and started school that May.
Since Berklee, I’ve moved out to LA and started a career as a songwriter and an artist, and this year I’m releasing my debut project, A Year Underwater. Music became a really powerful outlet for me in the last three years and I think if I could do anything with my songs it’d be to empower other people the way I’ve been empowered. Making these songs has given me the freedom to say things I couldn’t always find the courage to say otherwise. Like a lot of people, I think insecurity has defined parts of my life I wish it hadn’t. I just want to connect with people on this idea that we’ve all had painful self-judgment that we desperately want to let go of.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t know if it’s been a smooth road but I think I’ve been very lucky to have the things I’ve had. I was able to go to Berklee and move to LA and rent a house and have a family that believed in me enough to support me through moments of depression or loss or naivety. That’s what I feel luckiest to have. On paper, there’s really not much reason to believe in me. I’ve never released a professional project or garnered much attention or gotten any semblance of a following. I don’t have labels knocking at my door or a publishing deal. But I’ve always believed in the music I made, sometimes to a fault. That’s what I love in my friends too. We work really hard and we love what we do. I think that’s gotta count for something, someday.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m an artist and a songwriter and a guitar player and I make songs with my friends. I came out of the singer-songwriter/folk scene and I still write all my songs on an acoustic guitar. I love soulful voices like Kevin Garrett and Donny Hathaway and I think you can hear a lot of it in my songs. I get excited about little things. I love writing poetry and blogs and songs for other artists and songs for myself. In the pop songwriting world there’s a big line between artists and songwriters. Songwriters write for artists and artists pull from songwriters and there’s not always a ton of space in between. But growing up, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Carol King, Paul Simon, and Prince were my heroes, so I always thought of artists as people who did it all. I always wanted to be an artist who did it all. I wanted to write and sing and produce and play everything on my records.
Fortunately in the last year or two, I was able to meet dozens of people who were a lot better than me at all the things I wanted to be the best at, and even more fortunately they’ve believed in my music and wanted to help it come to fruition. This EP is the collective product of a lot of people who love each other and love music more than anything. One of the biggest things I tried to say in the project was that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed or suffocated. And in the moments I feel suffocated, it’s okay that I’ve escaped from it all or apologized too soon or gotten angry. I wanted to allow myself to feel everything openly the way I couldn’t for so long because of insecurity or fear or a million other things. I think if I give someone the ability to let go of all that too then I’ll feel like I really did something.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I think I’d be brave enough to listen to myself sooner.
- Singer – $250 per song
- Electric/Acoustic guitar – $100 per song
- Vocal Comping – $100 per song
- 30 minute lesson on guitar/singing/drums – $45
- 45 minute lesson on guitar/singing/drums – $55
- 60 minute lesson on guitar/singing/drums – $65
- 5 Lesson commitment (paid upfront) – 10% off
- 10 Lesson commitment (paid upfront) – 15% off
- Website: https://www.levfreedman.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/levsongs/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/levfreedmanmusic/
- Other: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNaxDCbiTrvduxQvGz2w_pw