We sat down with Wesley Levers, dark overlord of Meat Scenes Records, for a chat about his year end compilations, Pop songs, and re-contextualizing music.
Justin: Alright! Mind if I ask you those questions?
Wesley: Sure! As in: “I don’t mind.”
Justin: Perfect, you can choose not to answer, but that would be a blow to my confidence as an interviewer.
Wesley: Well, unless they’re deeply personal, I can probably muster up some kind of response.
J: When did you start Meat Scenes?
W: I’ve actually been doing stuff under that name since fifth grade. My friend and I made a recording and, to make it official, we made a cover and gave the “record label” a name. For a while, I didn’t really do anything with it, but I realized in high school that it would be an avenue through which to share music that my friends and I made.
J: Wow! That’s a lot longer than I would’ve guessed.
W: I didn’t really do anything with it from middle school to high school, but when I was starting the blog where I post all the music, I decided to use the same name.
J: What’s the name from? Are you a big carnivore?
W: I am actually a vegetarian! But for some reason, in fifth grade, the combination of those two words sounded funny to me. I think its mellifluousness has lasting appeal.
J: Hypothetical: You’re stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean with a tiger and only meat on board. Would you tap into your bestial side? Eat or be eaten, right?
W: Yeah, I’m not very diehard. I eat fish, actually.
J: You have a lot diversity in sound – when and how did you meet / get to know all these artists? Specifically, the end of year compilations.
W: Well, it really started out just as my friends and I, but has sort of expanded as I have met new people from different areas of my life. The people I chose to ask always had some sort of interesting musical sensibility in whatever type of music they chose to make . As to the diversity of sounds, especially on the end for the end of the year compilations, I have always tried to integrate some sort of healthy eclecticism into the mix because I feel like that is more representative of the world we live in today. Everyone has access to a million different types of sounds, and I don’t think anyone could really pare their tastes down into one genre. I tend to like music that draws from anything and everything.
J: I like applying that principle to the biggest pop songs of the year. Re-contextualizing things we know so well can be super interesting. Is the holiday compilation a fairly recent endeavor?
W: This will be it’s third year. It started out as a way for my friends and I to deconstruct pop songs and make them our own in order to I guess get in touch with some part of popular culture. Over the years, though, I’ve become more interested in the idea of re-contextualization. There is so much emulation today— so many remixes, and a treasure trove of vocal covers on youtube. The artists who make those covers all to some degree color the song with their own ideas. Some of the stuff on the holiday compilation tries to do that to the extreme— it’s almost like reading a review of some of these songs in audio format.
J: Elaborate on that idea of a “review in audio format.”
W: In a lot of the covers on these compilations, there are certain aspects of the songs that are exaggerated, accentuated, or, a lot of the time,made fun of. You can get a sense of one’s thoughts or opinions on the songs by listening to them— it’s not just presenting the music, which you already know, but something is being said about it at the same time.
J: They’re well built pop songs too, there’s a good framework to expand upon.
W: Yeah, I realize that what I said before might make it sound like we all have negative opinions of all pop music, but I think a lot of it is really wonderful.
J: How confident are you in your catchphrase: The Best Music since the Beginning of Time? Have you heard the Beatles?
W: I cannot successfully defend either of the clauses in that sentence.
J: They’re pretty good
W: Yeah, well, I guess I’ll have to agree. The Beatles, you know, were pretty great.
Or were you referring to the clauses in the catchphrase?
J: Open to interpretation. Here’s an unrelated question: are you team Miley or team Taylor?
W: Absolutely team Taylor— I wasn’t really into her stuff until Red came out, but that is a quality album.
J: Yes, that was full of bangerz: “22” is still one of my favorites. I guess I’m not one for deep cuts.
W: Your punning is too much. But 22 is pretty great, I also like “We Are Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Getting Back Together (Like Ever).” And unrelated, Deep Cuts by the Knife is also a quality album.
J: I haven’t listened to the Knife in a long time – “Heartbeats” is a classic song though.
W: Absolutely. I like that even their most dance-y songs are always a bit creepy.
J: Yes! They have this sinister quality to their music that elevates them above just synthpop. My phone is almost dead! One last question:
What’s the next step for Meat Scenes? Anything planned for the future?
W: It’s always sort of been an outlet for whatever people I know and I are doing at the time. I mean, I am always looking for more people to participate, but I don’t think it’s really realistic to have super high aspirations or anything. It’s mostly just something fun.
J: Sounds good. Staying humble!
W: I try, Justin, I try.
J: I’m glad you’re being real with me.
Stream the rest below: