Transported from the swamps of New Orleans to the deserts of San Antonio, brothers Kyle and Kody Anderson have been creating geographically inspired sounds since their childhood. Their most recent band, Levees, combines the celebrated blues of Louisiana with the southwestern spirit of Texas, leaving listeners with music that calls to mind a mix between the White Stripes and The Doors.
Although the Anderson brothers did not set out to write blues inspired sounds, the profound culture of the Big Easy found its way into their art through an inherent osmosis. The two spent most of their lives surrounded by vibrant and festive musicians, and their influence certainly surfaces in the few Levees tracks released thus far.
“Speaking to geography in general, where you are in a place and space and time has some kind of effect on your psyche and unconscious mind,” Kody tells BTR. “I think that’s where our New Orleans influence is. We didn’t intend on playing this kind of bluesy sound, but I think it has worked its way into our bones.”
With that being said, the Andersons also managed to pull insights from the heritage of their most recent San Antonio residence.
“The culture of San Antonio isn’t one that slaps you in the face when you first arrive here, but as you get more and more immersed in it, it gets more and more intense,” Kody shares. “I definitely think that the San Antonio culture and Southwest desert feel is really starting to manifest in our writing.”
Kyle substantiates his brother’s assertion, adding that they have introduced slide and baritone guitar into their writing more now than ever before. Kyle also admits that they found a muse in the diabolical customs of the South, culling material from the transcendent tradition of Dia de los Muertos, a holiday of remembrance for friends and relatives who have died.
The somber rituals in Texas appear reminiscent of the Louisiana Voodoo that the Anderson brothers experienced in their childhood. Although the cities of New Orleans and San Antonio offer unique perspectives, their commonalities have energized Kyle and Kody.
“I think on the surface, San Antonio and New Orleans seem like very different places,” Kyle tells BTR. “I think the undertone of each city is this dark, spiritual thing rising from the surface. It’s really cool for us to be from these two different worlds, and I think our music is in some way finding the median between these two.”
Thankfully, the people of San Antonio welcomed Levees with open arms and they have been celebrated by the very community that motivates and electrifies them.
“The music scene in San Antonio is quite amazing. We’ve been welcomed in the community right off the bat and people have been so collaborative and supportive,” says Kody. “The scene has a very family-like feel, which I think breeds a lot of creativity.”
Aside from a geography that drives the band’s sound, Levees find creative influence for their music in a variety of places. Whether it’s film, literature, or human connection, the Andersons discover subject matter in all of their interactions; absorbing techniques and sentiments through their days and rearranging them in ways that distinctly shout Levees.
“I’ve always kind of viewed a musician as a filter for all the experiences that we go through on a day to day basis, and I think that is what we are trying to accomplish and convey,” explains Kody.
Levees recently released their debut self-titled EP, a collection of four songs written over an extended period to time. The band fully came together one year ago when the brothers found a bassist and drummer to round out their sound, but Kyle and Kody set out to work on these songs nearly two years prior. For the first time in their experience as musicians, these premiere tracks represent a wholeness lacking in their other projects.
“In previous bands, different sections would end up being a one-person job or mission,” Kyle tells BTR. “Now, it’s so equally distributed. Even the lyric writing process has been both of us coming together, working through ideas, and talking about them out loud. It’s been such a fruitful process.”
With all that time spent collaborating, Kyle and Kody wrote a dozen songs, reconfiguring them as they went along until they made the final call. Ultimately, they scrapped most of their material–which didn’t fit with the themes and sounds they had meticulously worked to design.
“We have the mentality that if something is not up to snuff we will work it to the bone, but if it doesn’t pan out the way we want it to, we let it go,” Kody explains. “We are our own worst critics.”
The four tracks Levees chose to release truly emphasize their diligence and persistence to keep at their craft. These songs initially developed in a spontaneous way and then grew from thoughtfulness and precision. To nobody’s surprise, the Andersons called upon their musical mentor to get their bearings in order.
“I heard something a long time ago that Jim Morrison and The Doors would riff on a part or a verse until Jim would just kind of spout out these lyrics,” says Kody. “Whatever came to his mind, they’d take what was usable and create a coherent verse out if it. So we took that and ran with it.”
After a long affair, Levees have finally finished running and reached the finish line with a batch of songs that take hold of your heart and inspire it to ecstasy, just as they hoped they would.
To hear the rest of our interview with Levees, tune into this week’s episode of Discovery Corner.
Or interpret the music for yourself by clicking here.