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Red Deer’s Levi Cuss uses the pandemic to fuel an outpouring of musical inspiration

He’s released three digital EPs so far — and isn’t done yet
Red Deer musician Levi Cuss has used pandemic isolation to spark his creativity, putting out three digital EPs so far — and he isn’t done yet. (Contributed photo).

The pandemic’s inspired many of us to binge shows on Netflix — but that’s not the case for Levi Cuss.

A year of isolation has instead sparked a flurry of creativity from the Red Deer singer/songwriter, who’s put out three EPs of new music, so far — and he isn’t done yet.

Cuss’s first digital release, So Far Nowhere, is a five-song EP, recorded with contributions from local players. A major partner was Curtis Phagoo, who produced, played bass on all the tunes, did some backing vocals, and got songwriter credit for the title track.

Cuss, a seasoned musician whose previous tunes have been played by radio stations in the U.K., Germany and Belgium, drew inspiration from what he saw happening around him — such as job losses exacerbated by the pandemic: “It’s about the illusion of our capitalist system and how it is crushing the blue collar folks who work within it…”

While the subject matter is sobering, “doing a record with my bestie was super fun and inspiring,” he added, referring to Phagoo.

His second three-track digital release, Lost and Found was largely recorded in Phagoo’s studio. “Then we shipped it to Nashville and Steve Dawson did the rest,” said Cuss, who co-wrote the tune Railway Spine with Phagoo.

Lost and Found is about “picking yourself up and dusting yourself off,” said Cuss. “Any musician who has stuck around is incredibly resilient, strong and beautiful. I am proud to be a small part of that.”

His most recent release, Kundalini Rise, is another three-track EP. Again the vocal and guitar were completed in Phagoo’s studio then it was sent to Dawson to wrap up production in Nashville.

Cuss said Kundalini Rise was inspired by an “over-powering three months where I felt extremely connected, to divinity, living and breathing that. Having gratitude for things that can’t be measured,” said Cuss.

He gives Phagoo credit for artwork on all three EPs, which are available on music platforms online.

Cuss is planning to return to the studio on April 24 to record yet more songs. And he hopes to be able to perform this new music live to fans someday soon.

In the meantime, he’s finding the pandemic “super interesting…

“On one hand, I’ve seen how our leaders — leaders from all sides, politically speaking — bend and mislead the facts, so that the blue collar folks, such as myself, stay divided and quarrel with each other,” said Cuss, referring to the wedge that’s been driven deeper between those on the left and right sides of the political spectrum.

“It’s a consciousness problem, not a political problem. We’re all pink on the inside,” he added.

“On the other hand, I have seen a lot of people helping people. And a ton of creativity has come from the quietness. It’s been a beautiful space for me to get quiet and rested… I hope others have found this to be true.”

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Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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