As the sun set on the second day of Imagine, crowds of bass-music lovers made their way to the Amazonia stage to catch a vibe with Brian Jones. Under his stage name, Levitation Jones, Brian threw down an electrifying, bass-heavy set. We got the chance to chat with him minutes after his act.
How do you feel about that set?
I just really wanted to pull off a lot of tricks. I wanted to make people go “what is this dude’s problem?” because I’ve been feeling more confident in my art recently. When you see somebody on stage really feeling the music, or their clothes come off, or they’re dancing like a lunatic, that’s absolutely asinine. People think you’re like, inhuman, and it’s just a good show. So I came in with the attitude to do that today, that’s why I did the worm on stage and everything. I was like “I know I can still do it.” I have every muscle torn in my body from doing that right now, but I was like “let’s pull out the big guns, let’s do the worm!”
What do you like most about big festival crowds?
Festival crowds are funny — it’s hard to tell if you’re doing well. Because you can see a lot, and a lot of people are far away so it doesn’t look like they’re dancing, but I try to focus on people that are really feeling it. There were a couple people stage right today that were just really wildin’ out to all my deep stuff and I just kept looking over there like, “I’m playing for them.” The real Levitation Jones fans understand, just bring your A-game of wildin’, be part of the show. Make someone go, “remember that motherfucker that was just going crazy, wearing this thing, or doing that.” I got nervous at first because, you know, it’s really hot and people aren’t rushing down there to the stage. There were tons of people there already but I was like “I wanna pack this thing out, maybe I should just play bangers instead of my real groovy, vibey stuff.” But I stuck to the plan, I picked my targets, like those people. If those people are here for me, I’m going to play for them. So today was sick, it felt really good.
It seems like your groovy dark stuff is really what attracts most of your crowds. What went into developing that style?
It’s funny, I came from a lot of different influences. First of all, I’m just a weird person, like really bipolar and a total mess, but I grew up on System of a Down and Deftones and there was this wackiness but such melodic peace in their music. So all of a sudden, you’re like “what is going on!?” and all of a sudden you’re just being hugged and the most beautiful sounds are coming. And then you’re like “woah, this guy knows how to party” and also you’re wildin’ again. That’s how I felt about System of a Down and Deftones and a ton of music like that and I was really inspired by that. Then I found electronic music and subwoofers are just so weighty! So I was like, wow, there’s this whole untapped thing that metal music has not done. Korn does a really good job of putting bass in their real low-end stuff, but there’s no way you can match an electronic music track with sub-bass. So I realized there is such an atmosphere I can create with all that low-end, you can really create a world. When someone’s feeling their body vibrate constantly with the sub-tones, you can write over that, and people are just trapped in this world, floating. I’ve just been captivated by that concept, I want people to feel something. Sometimes I’ll write happy stuff…mostly dark stuff. My mom’s always like “why don’t you write anything happy?” I’m like, I don’t know, I’m just an angry, pissed off dude!
We heard that you’re interested in creating soundtracks for movies, what’s your plan with that?
Yeah, I’m doing music for this film called Beguiled Company with an independent filmmaker from Minnesota. He’s awesome, we linked up at a gas station. It was the funniest story. But I’ve been more captivated by environments and worlds that you can create, like I said with the sub-bass, and creating something so unreal but so comfortable. I used to make films, and people in high school would be just like, “are you ok?” I’d just get bullied for doing anything emotional at all in my films so I kind of grew away from that and I found that with music it wasn’t that awkward to get dark and deep with it. People are just like “this is cool!” and it was a lot less vulnerable. So I’m glad I found music as my outlet, but it’s cool to be able to go back into film and re-incorporate that vibe to show human emotion. With this current film, we’re doing a levitation theme, we’re not settled on the name yet. But in this film, this person does ketamine, and I’m writing all the pieces for when they’re under the influence of it and when there’s other things involved. I’m writing multiple 30 second to a minute long tracks that are the same track but bring out different vibes, different energies, different ups and downs, but using the same sounds. So that’s my current project. I can’t talk about it too much yet while it’s in process, but I’m excited. That’s like one of my life goals.
What kinds of films did you make?
I’m really into emotional sad stuff with happy endings, but I also love sketch comedy. I’m gonna be on Adult Swim or some shit, I can feel it. I just have a lot of creativity as far as visual elements go, and I’m starting a podcast soon. That’s gonna be with me and my co-host, “Swag Daddy”. He knows nothing about bass music, and we’re gonna have bass-music artists to interview. So we’re going to bring artists in for an hour and talk about off-the-cut, ridiculous stuff. It may get philosophical, but it’s mostly gonna be like “what are your kinks?”, “here’s a slushie chugging competition!”, “let’s break down a pop song!” just to try to get them to say something stupid and make them vulnerable. Because I like the idea that artists are human too, and we need to respect that. I hate that there’s so much suicide in celebrity culture. Could you imagine that many people yelling at you? It’s awful, these are real people, and I get affected by this stuff I see too — we see all the stuff you guys say. Like, I’ll talk shit, I’ll type “oh, fuck that guy, this is the dumbest stuff I’ve ever seen,” but I don’t want that guy to go home and be like “my art is nothing”. I don’t ever want to put that on someone. So a part of the Levitation Jones project is to get popular to show that a real human being is doing this, and you can too. You can be a celebrity or whatever you want to be, because I’m up here, I’m a recovering drug addict, like, I’m a piece of shit, a total idiot, but I have something going on in my brain that works, and people like it, and I’m trying my hardest and people are rooting for me and I love that. I feel like that’s really inspirational for some people and it can probably save a lot of people’s lives.
So it sounds like that’s the goal of the podcast?
Nah, the podcast is just to be an idiot. On a deep level, sure, but I just want to goof off. I want to make people laugh at everything. Everything is a joke to me. The darkest things, it’s like, you just gotta laugh man. Like, life is awful, this whole world is just the worst, people are awful people, and that is just funny, you know? Nobody knows what’s going on, so how are you gonna get so worked up about something? I’m just here to shit on all of it. Take a big ole’ dump on it. But there’s nothing but love in my heart, I’d like to think…
You guys want me to take my pants off?
It’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Levitation Jones in the future. With more new music on the way, as well as a podcast and a movie soundtrack (and eventually an Adult Swim show), a “come-up” is an understatement.
My Top Three Tracks:
- lil cream (Lurk Skank EP)
- New Kid (Transgentleman EP)
- #GJONES (Featured in video)
Photography by Vanessa Herwig. (Instagram: @visualhealingphotography)
Video by Max Rykov