Los Angeles pop-punk musician Levi Zadoff and Ottawa punk artist DEAD HENDRIX teamed up on their recently released EP, DEAD SUMMER, which mourns not only the death of summer to Covid but also the loss of friends and family to the virus.
For their DEAD SUMMER project, DEAD HENDRIX and Levi Zadoff collaborated with burgeoning producers IOF (Future, Paris Shadows), Yago Beats, SPLASHGVNG (Lil Peep, Sewerperson), and Imani Beats, to bring their glorious punk fusion sound, with its experimental pop-punk and rap-rock sensibilities, to life.
From the ironic EP opener sarcastically titled ‘Don’t Think It Could Get Much Better’ because things clearly could get much better than those covid summers, and the introspective ‘Alone,’ which sees Hendrix and Zadoff telling a sad story of loneliness and confusion from two opposite perspectives, to ‘Can’t Be God,’ where both artists accept they can’t control every aspect of their lives, and ‘Love Game,’ about being trapped in our own heads and struggling with our emotions, the duo delivers contagious rhythms and expressive lyrics.
CelebMix sat down with DEAD HENDRIX and Levi Zadoff to discover more about how the two got together, their influences, and their writing process.
What three things can’t you live without?
LEVI ZADOFF: Dab pen, Water, Music
DEAD HENDRIX: 1. Movies 2. Grailed 3. Music – Making/Writing Music
What inspired your just-released debut EP, DEAD SUMMER?
LEVI ZADOFF: The metaphorical death of summer we have experienced over the pandemic, along with the literal death of some friends and loved ones.
DEAD HENDRIX: The making of the song ‘Can’t Be God’ inspired the idea of an EP in general, and the metaphorical “death” of 2021’s summer, due to the pandemic, along with the loss of close friends around that time from overdose inspired the concept of the Dead Summer EP.
Where and when did the two of you first connect?
LEVI ZADOFF: On Snapchat about May 2021. I saw Gavin’s music and KNEW I needed to work with him.
DEAD HENDRIX: I had just dropped my single ‘D.$.O.$.’ and Levi heard it somehow and hit me up over Snapchat insisting we worked together. He sent me an open and I checked his SoundCloud and was really impressed, so we got to work, and also became really close friends in the process.
How did you get started in music?
LEVI ZADOFF: I’ve been making music since 9th grade personally, just really wanted an outlet to express things and have others see them.
DEAD HENDRIX: I wrote my first song when I was 6. It was about my mom’s alcoholism and was called “Dinner in Hell.” I was never a musician, but I was always a gifted writer. When I realized rappers are just writers, I realized I had found my passion.
Where are you from?
LEVI ZADOFF: I’ve lived in 3 main places throughout my childhood: Portland Oregon, San Francisco CA, and Melbourne, Australia.
DEAD HENDRIX: I’m originally from Burlington, VT, but moved several times in my life. Montreal, Pigeon Forge, and finally Ottawa. I spent my teenage years in Centretown or CT (a neighborhood in Ottawa).
Did your hometown impact your sound?
LEVI ZADOFF: No. Not for me but maybe for Gavin.
DEAD HENDRIX: Definitely. Centretown is a unique neighborhood in my city. It is West-Central of Downtown Ottawa. It’s big, it has a lot of people, and it’s a melting pot of culture. It’s home to the Chinatown and the Little Italy of Ottawa, and also most of the skyscrapers and businesses Downtown.
The residential side of it is a mix of high-end condos (not me), and low-income Ottawa Community Housing. It is also home to most of the shelters in the city. It has business folk, and it has drug dealers and drug addicts. Spending my teens seeing all the different people and the struggle and the rawness of the neighborhood definitely impacted how I see/write my music. It also impacted how I see life in general. CT is what I claim as my “hometown” or “hood,” It’s where I ‘grew up,’ where I went from a kid to a man, almost.
But, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve moved around a lot throughout my life. And this, I think just as much, or even more, impacted my music as well. I’ve lived in the country, I’ve lived in the city, I’ve lived in the suburbs. I’ve been comfortable (wealth-wise), and I’ve been struggling. I’ve lived every stereotype there is, so how do I identify? This comes out a lot in my music. I think this is why I’m a punk.
Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?
LEVI ZADOFF: MGK, Bon Jovi, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avril Lavigne…
DEAD HENDRIX: Machine Gun Kelly’s rap AND his punk, Blink 182, The Offspring, Sum 41, AAR. Kevin Gates’ early projects really inspired me with his aggressive melodies, and I would definitely say Lil Peep as well.
If you had to explain your sound to the uninitiated, what would you say?
LEVI ZADOFF: A mix of pop-punk melodies and rap-rock attitude.
DEAD HENDRIX: Well, I would describe this project as a mix of MGK’s pop-punk, and Lil Peep. And what Levi said fits perfectly too.
Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?
LEVI ZADOFF: I had to push myself to sing. I used to not even know I was able to. But pushing myself in this genre is basically what made this project happen on my end.
DEAD HENDRIX: I started out trying to make rap music. Once I made the push to punk, it evolved very naturally. I will add that my upcoming solo music is not going to have the same sound as the sound me and Levi found when collaborating.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?
LEVI ZADOFF: I draw inspiration from pop culture and my life. And I don’t write. I freestyled everything on the project. It’s all in my brain.
DEAD HENDRIX: I write constantly. Mostly my writing is inspired by my life. Mostly by what I’m feeling or what I’m going through, but also scenarios I find interesting that pop into my head while daydreaming.
What can you share about your writing process?
LEVI ZADOFF: Find a beat I enjoy, throw it on Ableton with my vocal chain, lock myself in a room with some good food and drinks, and just let the universe flow through me.
DEAD HENDRIX: I write in the car. While driving. I have the beat I f**k with. I get in my car, I drive, I blast the beat, and I let it flow.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
LEVI ZADOFF: I don’t really pay attention to many other artists. But I think WE are the ones killing it.
DEAD HENDRIX: Right now, MGK obviously, Wett Brain, 6host, Diveliner, Oliver Tree, Travis Barker, Kevin Gates & Merkules. Some are less known with huge potential, and some are really coming into themselves artistically after being known for a while. But, as Levi said, I haven’t been listening to much music other than our duo lately.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? New material? Live gigs?
LEVI ZADOFF: Y’all will see us in Canada for a show, LA for another concert, and we’re also gonna be working on getting a billboard in Times Square. For me individually, I’m working on my next piece of art to release to the world.
DEAD HENDRIX: My fans can look forward to new music first of all. Singles that are more rap, singles that are more punk, singles with impressive features, and a solo project that has the perfect blend with a sound that has never been heard before. They can also look forward to shows at venues with other local artists and house parties with mosh pits in the kitchen. But I think as far as ‘Dead Hendrix & Levi Zadoff’ goes, what Levi said sums it up perfectly. Oh, and a s**t ton of tattoos.