Get to Know: Liv.e
Get acquainted with Dallas-raised , Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, Liv.e
“I’m kinda trapped there and I’m pretty much living out that album right now and it’s been the most gruesome shit ever,” says 23-year-old singersongwriter Liv.e (pronounced Liv), reflecting on her 2020 debut album ‘Couldn’t Wait To Tell You...’
Over 20 woozy, aqueous tracks that meld together alternative hip-hop loops and beat scene drum patterns with melodious neo-soul and jazz vocal influences, the Dallas-raised and now Los Angeles-based artist pries into the nervous and anxiety-inducing feelings that accompany a new relationship or infatuation. An alluringly intimate listen, individual songs resemble emotionally unfiltered diary entries, with Liv.e conveying her feelings in a free-form poetical lilt. “I might not enjoy it to listen to now,” she admits, “but I do enjoy it when people discover it.”
Born into a musical family, Liv.e shied away from the idea of writing songs herself until she experimented while attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a year. Despite her late start, Liv.e credits growing up around a father who played keys and her drummer brother as instilling in her an innate musical sensibility. “That gave me a very good ear,” she explains. “I feel like it’s tough to have an ear and not have to read music but still get it. So being surrounded by music, it was like subconscious inspiration.”
After exploring her musical instincts by curating DJ sets — many of which are archived on Liv.e’s SoundCloud page — she formally debuted as a soloist with 2017’s ‘FRANK’. Released via the Dallas-based Dolfin Records, the EP features production from Ben Hixon and Jon Bap, plus Liv.e’s own HayLee alias. The patina of ‘FRANK’ brings to mind a scuzzy ‘70s funk record. The liner notes cheekily claim the project was released in August of 1975, but Liv.e admits there’s no musical or cultural significance to the year: “I just felt like it was a good number.” She adds that ‘FRANK’ represents “a phase in time where I was probably a lot more ecstatic about making music, like everybody was more unified in that time.”
The following year’s ‘::hoopdreams::’ and ‘KRYPTONYTE’ respectively encapsulate the R&B and rap influences that Liv.e shifts between. The former was recorded with the Los Angeles-based producer 10.4 ROG, who cushions Liv.e’s silky voice with sultry nostalgic soul backdrops. ‘KRYPTONITE’ is a collaboration with the MCs Lord Byron and Pink Siifu that spotlights Liv.e rapping under her Jade Fox persona and features artwork that pays homage to the ‘90s Memphis hip-hop scene. “I feel like I’m not supposed to talk about ‘KRYPTONYTE’ because it’s so special,” she teases before mentioning how the recording sessions came about spontaneously when the artists just happened to find themselves together in the same room.
A similarly impulsive streak runs through the rest of Liv.e’s discography, with key releases including a blend tape with Swarvy (‘RAW DAYBREAKS VOL . 2’) and a project inspired by a series of memos (2018’s ‘pur·lieu5_18’). On ‘Couldn’t Wait To Tell You...’, tracks frequently halt or end abruptly, giving the impression of someone flipping through late-night quiet storm radio stations.
Capturing hyper specific emotional moments in time is a facet of Liv.e’s songwriting she’s proud to pursue. “Every album is something different to talk about because I’m going through a different phase in my life,” she reasons. “The voice hasn’t really evolved and the place I write from hasn’t really evolved — but the situations in my life have.”
Copyright Thrust Publishing Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.djmag.com as the source.