When (Liv).e walks through my apartment door, her movements are accentuated by the chiming of small bells that hang from her hooped earrings. The DIY, self-fashioned look produces a sound as pure as I’ve ever heard. Like a sage smudging ritual, the hollow harmony seems to dispel any negative energy lurking in my living room. Born and raised in Dallas, (Liv).e–pronounced “Liv”, short for Olivia–describes for me her semi-nomadic lifestyle, habitually cycling through cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and NYC to pursue her burgeoning solo career.
(Liv).e seems to be destined for music and performance, but she refused to take it seriously until after a brief stint at art school studying architecture and design. Before that she’d gained an impressive knowledge of music through her father and her brother TaRon Lockett. As a teenager she attended the famed Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, the same school where Erykah Badu and Roy Hargrove shed wood back in the day. There she quickly found like-minded musicians who would come together to form Dolfin Records, and through online channels met future collaborators like Jon Bap, Swarvy and Pink Siifu.
My introduction to (Liv).e was her newest project ::hoopdreams::, a seven-track, mixtape-style collection of homegrown beats by 10.4 Rog featuring a dynamic range of live vocal stylings. Released last month, the recording session was done in one go with a crew of homies in the room. “I was recording everything out loud,” (Liv).e explained, “Which is not really good in terms of audio. But I like it rough, so I’m like whatever. I just hate crispy pop music, like super mixed, ughhhhh. Like, oh god.” The lo-fi, unmanicured quality of this 20 year-old’s music is often what seizes our attention, the way her voice can cut against the grain of these boisterous beats.
Read an excerpt of the conversation I had with (Liv).e, as we sat on my couch eating cold three bean salad, people watching out my window and smoking weed.
IC: How’s your summer in New York been so far?
L: It’s been hot as fuck. I love it though, cause it’s a humid heat. I mean, we have humid heat in Texas but it’s like–
IC: It’s humid and dry at the same time.
L: You feel me? Okay, that’s what I try to be explaining to people. I’m like, it don’t feel like it’s attaching to my body. It’s a little bit of that but more of the dryness, like, oh god make it stop. So much concrete, so many cars, like fuck it’s hot as fuck. It’s like, okay, I’m sweating. But everybody’s sweating, so this is lit. It’s kinda sexy. We’re all sweating.
IC: Did you study music in school?
L: I went to art school but I took a year off. I’ve got up to six years that I can take off before I’m like, yeah I don’t wanna do this anymore. That’s when I was like, maybe I should probably do this music shit. I was trying to go for architecture, but that was a dub. I’m bad with authority as well. I was like maybe I should deal with authority in the real world first, and then go back to college, because college is just a business anyway. Let me get some real world experience so I can handle y’all when I come back. Right now, fresh outta high school? Like, hell naw. Like four more years of the shit I was just doing? Like, you got me fucked me up. It don’t mean that much to me, it really don’t. I’ll go back when I truly want it.
IC: What keeps you inspired in terms of making music and being Liv.e?
L: The relationships I make with people on a daily basis. The things that I see for sure. Just like walking down the street and being outside. I’m trying to externalize my internalized thinking more so than keeping it locked in. I’m trying to be more vulnerable, so like, that’s been cool and keeping me mad inspired. You just do it low-key, it’s not even that bad, because my thinking at one point was like, okay this is a game, we’re all playing this game, everybody’s playing this game. I’m like, but why am I play games? What the fuck am I playing games for with people? Nah. Like, I fuck with you. This is great. You can love three people at one time. But yeah. Friendships, relationships, that type of thing. Womanhood. My mom keeps me inspired. You never think you’re gonna turn into your parents, but you literally turn directly into your parents. (laughs)
“The music I was raised around was very old, very classic. Blues, jazz, lots and lots of gospel. I was going to church every Sunday with my mom. That’s kinda what they force you to do. You’re not finna live in my crib and not go to church so… I was like, okay (laughs).”
IC: When’s the last time you were truly shocked by something in music or art or politics?
L: I don’t really be shocked. I think I get shocked more than anything at the fact that people actually listen to me, because I really make this shit for myself. But I also put it out for people to listen to and enjoy, but I don’t really expect anything. I try not to have any expectations. What was the question again? Oh yeah! When D’Angelo dropped Black Messiah. Fucking wild. I was like yo….. Fifteen years dog? Nobody knew that shit was dropping, it was just like oh shit. It’s new D’Angelo, nigga! It’s D’Angelo and the Vanguard, literally The Roots. And then you listen to it and it’s like damn! Ok, ok ok ok ok ok. That was the last thing that shocked me. That was a feeling. I’m trying to shock myself though.
IC: So I saw Erykah Badu commenting on your Instagram posts.
L: Yeah. My brother played drums for her, on tours and shit, probably some studio stuff too. I think he did the opening drums on “Window Seat,” he might have been lying when he said that. I don’t know. But I’ll believe it, I’m like, yeah he did that! So yeah. We’ve been close for a long time. It’s kinda annoying sometimes, because niggas be like, oh, now I have to act differently. I’m like, nigga I’m broke. Don’t do that. That frustrates me. But yeah she’s so sweet. But she can be mean as fuck, too. It’s the perfect Pieces balance. Caring as fuck. Compassionate as fuck. The commenting. I be kinda like, oh. (laughs) Me having like 40 likes on the one comment, like yo, she didn’t even say anything.
Bump (Liv).e’s Hoop Dreams below.
RSVP to Indie Current’s NYC showcase and catch (Liv).e’s next live performance on July 5 in Brooklyn at a secret location.