WHEN creating music is a matter of survival, then the product is nothing less than awe inspiring. As the phoenix who rises from the ashes to live once more, LIVAN’s eclectic music is the epiphany, which has allowed him to soar.
London based singer/songwriter LIVAN’s (pronounced Lie’van) story may sound almost clichéd, but if it was not for the hardships, then this master lyricist and musical inventor would not be able to draw on his struggles and be inspired to create his unique punk-pop sound.
LIVAN’s early family life – the tale of dramatic novels – led to his self-induced descent into drugs and decadence and finally, redemption. A moment that still impacts daily on LIVAN and his music.
Born in Greece, the son and grandson of prominent politicians who were exiled from their homeland during a period of great national turmoil, Livan’s story has given him the material to the soundtrack of his life. His father’s fate was more tragic than exile alone, having suffered physically at the hands of the dictators while under arrest. After relocating to England, LIVAN struggled under the perceived “burden” of living with a hero, which he now freely admits. In his youth, he chose to run from the challenge rather than embrace it.
“When you grow up with those people in your house, you wonder how the hell you’re going to top that. I was crap at everything, so I thought that if I couldn’t be good at being good, I would try being good at being bad.”
His descent into drugs, alcohol, gambling, and other undesirable activities brought LIVAN face to face with his own mortality. He found himself in prison and later, addicted to heroin, dying slowly in the ghettos of Athens and London. LIVAN’s turnaround came one rain soaked, drug-addled, Good Friday, when he simply looked upward from the park bench and said to himself, “This can’t be the end…life has to be better than this.”
And, from that moment was the beginning of a journey, filled with heartache and hard work, but now LIVAN is living his dream of creating music. LIVAN changed a life of self-destruction to a life of self-production, writing and singing with a feverish desire to evolve.
As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, LIVAN finds his inspiration to create has evolved as well; from a drive for his own physical survival to thoughts beyond himself. “Immortality in a way; I want to leave something behind. There is a lot of talk and some things you can’t discuss, due to the social norms or political correctness, but you can express what you feel through the podium of music”. Over the last few years LIVAN has immersed himself in his music, a style with influences ranging from the beloved Lord Byron to The Sisters of Mercy, and from David Bowie and The Clash to Placebo and Nine Inch Nails.
Like everything in LIVAN’s life, his passion for music can be felt in every note and lyric.
“As an artist, exposing yourself up on stage, you need to have a loose screw. With all the critics, hassles, and jaded fans, you need to find something deeper.”
Happy Returns, his most recent collection, is self-produced and due for digital release through Pumpkin Music on September 15, 2009. It’s simple and to the point. It is a collection of songs of the life he has lived, without the glitz and the glam. LIVAN’s music and lyrics don’t seek to passively entertain the listener, but to engage them.
The title track, “Happy Returns”, LIVAN says, represents him in many ways. “It is a simple song really, one chord only, but the energy of the bass-line drives the lyrics forward. It’s about losing it, just losing control.”
Reaching into his own darkened memories LIVAN revealed he often feels he is ready to “lose it”. “Like most of us I’m sure, waiting for a moment to just lose control, but we don’t of course. You learn to pick up and move on.”
A more infectious pop ditty, “King of the World”, shows off LIVAN’s playful side and is easily set up to be a popular single with his fan base. Fuelled by his political anxieties and his desperate need for sarcasm “King of the World” flowed out in less than an hour while jamming ideas with his good friend and musical partner John Robertson. The angst is still present in Livan’s writing and manifests itself in the likes of “Where I Bleed”. A very popular song amongst the European fan base especially in Greece and Spain.
In the dramatic track, “Kiss and Tell”, Livan tells the story, of a London street-walker desperately fighting against her own self-destructive course.
But it’s not only his own music, which fuels LIVAN’s passion. On his latest album, he covers one of his favorite songs “Shout” giving the track a definite musical twist. “Tears for Fears really gave us something to hold on to there and I am just happy I could give it my own take.”
On his previous records, Livan has worked with some of the UK’s elite Producers such as Bacon and Quarmby (Bowie, Marley, John Meyer, The Pretenders, Kate Walsh) and David Creffied, an industry veteran who not only brought Embrace into the public domain (X6 Platinum) but also The Kaiser Chiefs.
Now LIVAN is producing on his own but still has a gift for collaboration; working with fellow UK based producer and lyricist John Robertson on some of the arrangements for Happy Returns, and up and coming musician/engineer, Nat Chan (Paul McCartney, Aimee Mann, Granddaddy, Bob Dylan) who was responsible for mixing the album’s eleven tracks.
Livan has now ganged up with Will Crewdson (Lead Guitar) from the well respected and groundbreaking UK outfit “ Rachel Stamp”. “Rachel Stamp” have earned a reputation for being one of the most decadent, brilliantly off-kilter Rock n’ Roll bands to ever come out of the UK, and have inadvertently paved the way for hundreds of eye-liner smudged, heart-on-your-sleeve bands that currently fill stadiums and magazines the world over. The musical jigsaw completes itself with Nat Chan (rhythm guitar) James Bailes (bass) Damon Wilson (Drums) who’s past live and studio playing includes James Brown, Patti LaBelle, Bon Jovi, Joss Stone and Ray Davies to name a few.