We had the good fortune of connecting with Levi Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Levi, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Malibu Nights came into being in 2014 while I was living at the THE WICK compound in Denver, Colorado. My songwriting was inspired by a retro electronic dance sound from the 80’s and early 90’s, coupled with some of the higher energy rock and hardcore outfits that I loved. I also have a deep love for classic funk and wanted to incorporate some of that energy into the project as well. My goal was to bring the sound into a live performance as a band, not simply djing tracks, to showcase the live energy of the project and bring a fresh sound to the music landscape.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I began my journey with music at an early age, singing in choir and learning several instruments when I was young, and developed that love into a music degree from CU-Colorado Springs. I moved back home to southwest Colorado after college, and fronted a full time funk band. We played the regional circuit, and this group developed my taste for classic funk as a catalyst for energized dance floors. After outgrowing the small southwest club scene, I made the move to Denver and linked up with my college friends, who were formerly The Free Electric Band, now LAMA LIVE, and joined up. Around that time I was working in a used gear store, and became friends with Nat-Lort Nelson, who was the guitarist for The Bunny Gang. He invited me to audition with them, and that began my foray into professional music. The guys in that band became my best friends and we had many adventures around the world. Making a band work takes monumental energy and focus, because you are not only dealing with powerful sometimes conflicting talents, but real world issues that arise from choosing that lifestyle, be it financial, interpersonal, etc. There is a saying I learned from Nathen, our singer, “artists pay double”, and if you’re an artist you know the sacrifices that must be made to pursue creative freedom over a lifetime. The Bunny Gang is where I cut my teeth, and shared my knowledge and desire to create a successful life, through music, with Malibu Nights.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Some of the best places in Denver! The city has been changing so much, and since covid ran through, Denver has changed even more, some of the better spots I cannot even recommend any longer (RIP El Chapultepec). Nonetheless here goes:
The Thin Man- Funky ass dive with Catholic regalia all over the walls and pink lighting. Come for the pickle shots stay for the bartenders.
Bar Bar- Grimy downtown bar, an act of defiance to every skyscraper in view. Opens at 7 am, we used to play improv multi-band sets at the end of the room, and I would go to metal shows there. The dive’s dive.
Cruise Room- Fly art deco vibe, cool lighting, tasty cocktails. Dress up.
Karma Asian- Best happy hour in Denver 3-6 everyday. Cool vibes, great staff. Prepare to take a cab.
Blue Pan- Best pizza in the world. That’s what their Italian pizza awards say anyway.
Bennys- Good standard Mexican food, great margaritas, you already know the menu.
Pho 95- Best in the city.
Cheeseman Park- Best park for a cruise and chill day, Good for ghost spotting and bush parties.
Broadway/ South Broadway- Broadway is great for buying vintage threads and grabbing cheap happy hour. Go a little further south and you will hit Antiques Row which is great for window shopping and hidden gems.
Santa Fe Arts District- Great vibe and lined with beautiful Art Galleries including my favourite, ReCreative. Swing by next door and get a tattoo at Kitchens Ink.
And of course Red Rocks is always worth a visit, even in the daytime.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to thank Tj Wethington from THE WICK for always giving me the space and opportunity to create and develop my ideas. We have built several great musical rehearsal spaces in Denver over the years, and they have been instrumental in my professional development. I would also like to thank Matthew Shaw from HeadRoom Sessions for being a musical comrade for many years, and the visual artist Cody Kuehl for being an inspirational artist, reliable bandmate and friend. I would also like to thanks Stephen Tucker from the Control Room and Livestream Remote for his time and energy put into our recordings and live show production.