DEAD SUMMER is the first of many collaborations to come from punk duo Dead Hendrix (Ottawa, Canada) and Levi Zadoff (Los Angeles, California). The EP is about mourning the summers we lost to Covid as well as the loss of family and friends. Full of catchy melodies, infectious hooks, relatable songwriting, and compelling angst-fueled vocals, DEAD SUMMER is a pop-punk record with a rap-rock twist. We were able to speak to the duo about the inspiration for the EP, their unique creative process, and what’s to come for these two up-and-coming artists.
Let’s start from the beginning – how did you two meet? I understand that Dead Hendrix you live in Ottawa, Canada; and Levi Zadoff you live in Los Angeles.
DEAD HENDRIX: We met through Snapchat. I still don’t know how, but Levi heard a single I dropped and hit me up.
LEVI ZADOFF: I personally met Gavin on Snap. Saw him previewing his art and I HAD to give him metaphorical ‘flowers’ because it was just objectively good punk music. Our friendship developed from there.
Since you both live in different places, did you two meet in person to write and create this EP, or was the process entirely virtual?
DEAD HENDRIX: Entirely virtual. After getting acquainted and recording “Can’t Be a God”, we discovered we had real chemistry. Either Levi or I would write a song, leave an open verse, then send it through. We would then add our verses and spice up the track however we felt fit and send it back. It was usually just like that, nothing more complicated. He would send the open, I would love it. I would send my verse and little additions; he would love it. And vice versa. And that’s the chemistry I’m talking about.
LEVI ZADOFF: Somehow, we did this whole thing 100% virtually. EVERYTHING. Which is why it took a whole year to clear rights, get a good distributor, and finally release and market it.
This is your first release as a duo. What made you two want to collaborate on an EP rather than a single track?
DEAD HENDRIX: We released a remix to a song I made called “D.$.O.$.” (the song that Levi discovered me through), but the EP was in the works before that ever happened. That was a spur-of-the-moment drop, and it went great. We decided on an EP over just a single because we realized our chemistry is something special, we would get so much more out of a multi-song project than just one single. Our fans would too.
LEVI ZADOFF: For me… I figured after one or two songs they were too good to not make a few more, based around a concept. I thought it wouldn’t fully capture what we’d wanna do if it was just one song.
DEAD SUMMER channels feelings of loss and angst as well as loneliness and mental health during the global pandemic. Was it difficult to write these songs, or did the lyrics just come to you?
DEAD HENDRIX: Anytime I write a song the lyrics do ‘just come to me’, but I had just lost a friend to a fentanyl overdose, and I was feeling more jaded and lonelier than I had ever felt in my life. So, I guess these songs are subconscious diaries, in a sense.
LEVI ZADOFF: Not difficult at all. It just flowed through my vocal box and into reality. I felt all those described emotions for a whole YEAR without any way of getting it out. When I say it just flowed through me like it was ready to be said and heard… trust me, because it did.
My favorite track on the EP is “CAN’T BE GOD” – It’s one of those tracks that is so catchy you don’t realize the depth of the lyrics until a few listens in.
What was your favorite track to write? And what was your favorite to produce?
DEAD HENDRIX: “Can’t Be God” started it all. It spurred the idea for an EP. Its ‘catchy, summer sound’ grew the idea of Dead Summer. I love “Can’t Be God”. Songs like “Don’t Think It Could Get Much Better”, “Alone” and “Love Game” headlined the EP in our opinion (at least before the drop), but “Can’t Be God” is the EP. I don’t know about “favorite”, but Levi’s verse on “Love Game” blew me away, so that was exciting to open in my email.
LEVI ZADOFF: On ‘Can’t Be God’, I just loved freestyling my chorus. I had a general concept in mind, but something came about me and it just
became the beautiful song it is.
What is next for the two of you? Both together as collaborators, and as individual artists.
DEAD HENDRIX: Well first of all, with the EP, we got some stuff coming up. We got shows all summer at venues and parties in LA and Ottawa, and we are looking forward to that. We also got a music video that will hopefully be filmed the next time Levi comes up to Ottawa, and we’d love for that to drop this summer, so stay tuned for that. We also have a reaction video in the works by an Ottawa Youtuber who’s really on his grind when it comes to what he does (music reaction videos), so look out for a Dead Summer EP reaction by Panashe Madz dropping sometime this week or the next.
And in the long term, I think Levi & I both have our own directions we are going to pursue after this project. It makes me a bit sad, to be honest. We’ve been partners for over a year working on one of the most amazing pieces of music I’ve made so far in my career. But, we will always be in touch and always collaborate. We will always support each other, we are best friends. I know he’s getting a feature two on my upcoming solo project, and I better get some on his.
LEVI ZADOFF: As a collaboration: more concerts… in LA and Ottawa, and more songs in the future for sure. As an individual, I have been working on my new projects and singles. Expect another EP this year, and lots more singles. 🙂