Interview: Tyde Levi (AUS) on “Flying So Far”, touring with Troye Sivan and Hanukkah.

You might have come across Tyde Levi as “Troye Sivan’s younger brother” – a distinguisher synonymously attached to most of Tyde’s work. However, that tagline is quickly becoming irrelevant as he solidifies himself as his own accomplished artist, having released a handful of alt-RnB tracks with a cumulation of over 2 million streams on Spotify.

His most recent single, “Flying So Far”, was accompanied by the opportunity to play to thousands of fans each night as he supported Troye on the China leg of his Bloom tour. With new music in the pipeline and some serious performing experience under his belt, Tyde is quickly becoming one of the hottest artists to watch – and his 450k YouTube subscribers are proving that with their powerful community.

We got to catch up with him to hear about his hatching success.

Tyde, how are you? Where are you right now?

I’m very good. I’m sitting in my bedroom in Melbourne. I’ve got a nice big window in front of my desk and a little balcony, so it’s a pretty comfy spot.

The last time we spoke, you’d just finished your first ever live set at VanFest and you’re about to embark on a support slot for CXLOE. Does that seem like a world ago?

Yeah, that does seem like a little bit ago. I’ve done a couple more shows since then. I’ve been to China, been… Oh, I didn’t even know where. But yeah, that does feel like a little bit ago just because I played quite a few shows since that.

Exactly. What sort of capacity were we talking about when you were supporting CXLOE? What size would those sort of rooms?

Those were probably around 300 to 500 people.

Okay. And then the last show that you just played, what capacity was that?

The last show that I just played was opening for Troye, and that was like 9,000 in Chengdu in China. It was really intense. But honestly, I was more nervous for the 300 people, than I was for the 9,000.

Do you think that’s because of the intimacy or because you’d just started live performing?

I just think people are just looking at me and I can see their faces and I can see their reactions and I can see how they’re feeling in a room of 300 people. 9,000 people, I barely even know that there are 9,000 people there. I can barely see them. All the lights. So that must bigger and the music that much louder. So it’s easy to get lost in all of that.

Yeah. Fair enough. Yeah. Well, I mean it’s such a unique experience. Not a lot of people have sung or just stood in front of 9,000 people and had 9,000 pairs of eyes watching them. Is it just the first couple of rows that you can see? What’s it look like up there?

You can only really see the first couple of rows of people’s faces. Other than that, yeah, it’s pretty much just like a little light glow from people’s phones or just like a distant hand. But it’s scary when I look all the way up to the top and I just still see people, that’s when it kind of gets to me.

They always say, “Don’t look down,” but now it’s “don’t look up”! You’ve just finished supporting Troye on his China leg of his Bloom tour. What was the weirdest thing you ate over there?

Oh gosh. I mean, I couldn’t… I’m vegetarian, so my food options were already very, very limited whilst over there. I guess the funniest thing that happened was we were at this little marketplace and there were these people, they were making fresh fried rice right in front of our eyes. And I probably had three conversations with three different people. I was like, “Please make me fried rice, but don’t put the meat in it. Don’t put the shrimp, don’t put the ham, don’t do it.” And all three of them seemed to understand me. They were like, “Okay, we’ll make you vegetarian fried rice.” And they give me my fried rice, I walk away. And it just had meat in it, it just had everything in it! And I was like, come on. We had six conversations, so I spent the next half an hour fishing out the little pieces of meat. I just don’t think they actually understood, but definitely want me to eat their fried rice. And it was delicious. I mean, what can I say?

Yeah, you’ve been doing a lot of travelling this year. You also went and did some writing sessions overseas, and you wrote your recent single ‘Flying So Far’ in London, right?

Yeah, that was in London. I wrote that one in 2018, but I went to LA at the beginning of the year and did some sessions there, wrote some songs. It’s been a good year.

I’m curious, when you go on these work writing trips, do you have a lot of friends around or is it kind of an isolating experience where you just go in, do some writing, then you wander the city?

I guess it depends obviously where I go and how badly – not badly we need songs – but how badly I want to write songs. So when I go to Sydney it’s pretty social. I’m spending a lot of time with my friends. And going to the session in LA, it’s more I’m going to do sessions, I’m going to be in the studio, and then when I find some time I get to see some of my friends. But it’s never a lonely process. I mean, that wouldn’t be very fun, and I want to be doing things to take my mind off – I don’t want to be eating myself up trying to be like “Write songs, write songs, write songs,” you know? You’ve got to have that balance for sure. You’ve got to go out, have a beer, and just relax.

Would you say that you’re good at making friends? It’s quite a skill, I’ve discovered.

Yeah. I mean, yeah, definitely. I think I’m not scared to talk to anyone or to try anything. And if I really get along with someone, I’ll absolutely just be like, “Hey, let’s go get lunch.” Or anything like that. I like talking to people, people are cool.

Exactly. There’s no point in being scared of chatting to other people. Also when you link up with these writers, do you have a little Skype session before you go over or do you meet them for the first time in the room?

Most of the time I meet them for the first time in the room, which is interesting.

Do you go with an idea? Are you like, “This is the sort of single I want to write right now” or do you normally go in and be like, “All right team, what are we feeling?” What’s the conversation at the very beginning?

I guess it depends on the writer I’m working with. Like if I know that they make this kind of style of music and I think that’d be perfect for a song that I have thought about, then yeah, I’ll go in with an idea. I’ll go in with some lyrics, or I’ll be like, “Oh, I’ve been listening to this, I think it’s perfect for what we can do”. Other times, I will walk in with absolutely nothing, absolutely no idea. I’d be like, “What do you think? What do you like and let’s just try from scratch.”

I love that. You posted a photo recently of your little lyric scribbles in one of your notebooks. Does that just live in your back pocket? Do you walk around with that all the time and then suddenly when inspiration strikes?

Yeah, I mean obviously I’ve got my phone on me all the time, so anytime anything comes up, I’m writing it in my notes. I don’t normally voice memo anything, but that’s just because I like to write and then come up with the melodies. It’s never a melody that just pops into my head. It’s normally always lyrics.

Interesting. Let’s talk about the lyrics in ‘Flying So Far’. You’ve got some lines about smoking and flying, and I’m kind of like, “We talking drugs here?”

I mean, you can interpret it as whatever you want. I guess the main message behind ‘Flying So Far’ is just about that internal conversation. Whether I should decide to do something for me or something for someone else. It’s just about that battle and if I should just decide to do the things that I want to do, do things that make me happy and make me feel comfortable, or I’m trying to change my ways so if there’s someone close to me.

I definitely heard that too. But then I was also like “These connotations are interesting,” because you do have a song called ‘Sober’, you know?

Definitely! I mean I try to relate. I try and make my problems and just the things that happen in my life – I try and bring them out in my songs in any way I can. And I guess that’s just how this one came out.

Was this one inspired by anyone in particular, or a certain event?

Yeah, I mean I guess I’m singing about my mum at the end of the song. “Look mama, I’m flying.” So yeah, it’s definitely about me and my mum.

Speaking of your family, are you going back to Perth to celebrate Hanukkah?

To celebrate Hanukkah, I don’t know. The whole family’s actually in Melbourne right now. We haven’t decided if a family holiday’s going to happen soon, but I’m hoping we’re just going to relax in Melbourne. We’ve never all been in Melbourne together just for the holidays.

Are you the sole Melbournian?

Actually me, my sister, and my oldest brother. We have another brother who’s older than Troye.

Amazing. I’m also interested: you come from a DJing background, which is you wanting to share your music with other people. Who’s on high rotations for you right now? Who’s on your summer playlist?

I mean I have a lot of playlists, that’s the thing about me. I’ve either got my trap rap playlist, which is almost just Travis Scott. Then I’ve got my kind of pop, kind of singalong songs, which is like Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Superorganism, who else? Gus Dapperton, Tame Impala, Methyl Ethel, all those types of artists. And then I’ve got my boogie playlist, a bit of techno and a bit of just dance music, which has got … oh man, I don’t even know. A lot of weird artists that I don’t even know the names of. I just know the songs.

That’s diverse. Do you like a good throwback?

I guess it depends on the throwback. I don’t often listen to every throwback … I mean, unless you want to call throwback 70s rock. Absolutely. That’s definitely my jam.

Yeah, no Backstreet boys in there then. What else is coming up? What’s 2020 look like?

I’ve got a little show in Melbourne happening in about two weeks at Common Rooms. That’ll be very, very exciting. About 170 people, so hopefully that’ll be fine. And then maybe a single tour at the beginning of next year. Maybe a new song at the beginning of next year. I’m not saying too much, but yeah, it’ll be definitely a jam-packed 2020.

Oh, beautiful! Alright Tyde. I’ll let you go now.

Thanks so much.

‘Flying So Far’ is OUT NOW. Catch Tyde Levi at his ‘Flying So Far’ single launch.

15 December | Common Rooms | Melbourne, VIC

Main Image Credit: Cybele Malinowski

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