Inspired by great songs with memorable melodies, driving beats and inventive, honest sounds. The songs of Setting Sun are like a complete reinvigoration of a music scene suffering from its own irony, pastiche, and self-dramatization. Don’t let the name fool you—Gary Levitt’s evolving musical project is a motion of rising, a triumphant success that inspires drive, love, and enjoyment, even when it acknowledges life’s dejection.
Setting Sun is the name by which Gary Levitt expresses his current musical vision. Levitt has served a lifetime in music. Since putting his hands on a guitar, Levitt has pursued his subsistence by music alone—no easy task. Traveling and living back and forth on both sides of the country, Levitt has gained a musical education.
Half of Setting Sun is the good songwriting and clever arrangements. The other half is the technical wizardry Levitt has developed as a producer. Working out of various studios, he has worked with many bands and songwriters helping to craft their art. As a sideman he was signed to Virgin Records where he got the experience of recording with platinum producer Nellee Hooper (Bjork, Smashing Pumpkins, Massive Attack). Gary has lived and worked in San Francisco, LA, London and NY.
The 3rd record “Children of the Wild” (released June 2008) stayed in the top 200 CMJ charts for 8 weeks and landed many and mostly positive reviews. It’s sound is a mix of acoustic instruments (cello, violin, guitar, drums) crossbred with synth and an occasional splash of electronics. It’s sound was reported as “organic” and compared to Hunky Dory era David Bowie, Scott Walker, Elliott Smith, and The Arcade Fire. Many of these songs are still spreading and just starting to catch people’s ears all over the world. They have been featured on NPR, the BBC and are being used for a feature film coming out in 2009.
This new EP “Children of the Remix” is an experiment in song, sound and freedom. Beginning with another new catchy tune, “They’re Calling”, it bops along as it rolls through a cast of characters asked to rise to an occasion, whether it be facing your own fears or taking yourself out of your own comfort zone, this song is their stories. The rest of the EP has songs re-tooled from “Children of the Wild”. It is further out in a crossbreed of genres, resulting in a crossbreed of folk-electro-synth-singalong-indie-pop. The song “Carry me Away” is freshly recorded in a new meter from it’s original 6/8 to 4/4. The result is mind opening. The 3 remaining songs are electro-filled. By messing them up, deconstructing and reconstructing them it gave their creator a great sense of freedom and release. Removing fundamental elements and knob turning the remaining ones to oblivion while adding electronic drums and about a thousand keyboards reveals the fact that know matter how you serve them these are spectacular, well written songs.
A veteran of the indie music scene, Levitt started as a member of feverish NY band The Kung-Fu Grip. After four years of relentless touring, they made their way out to San Francisco where they paired down their members to a tightly focused three piece, all providing vocals for their cathartic, shock art sound. Levitt simultaneously formed Heavy Pebble with Erica Quitzow, becoming a hit in the music scene in San Francisco and touring the west coast, playing their quirky pop songs with post-modernist film collage projections to crowded houses and critical acclaim. After various line-up changes and key members leaving, both groups disbanded.
Upon having these long-term projects fall apart leaving Levitt with no material to perform, he decided his next project would be solely his own. Levitt sequestered himself in a friend’s San Francisco apartment with some borrowed gear and “two cheap microphones” to record what was to become Setting Sun’s debut, the appropriately titled “holed up.” Marked by a sense of palpable urgency, the album seamlessly fuses Levitt’s chief references—warm acoustic guitar, melodic counterpoint bent Beatles/Bowie pop, loud/quiet Pixies/Nirvana dynamics—into a catchy and inversely intimate lo-fi blend.
Young Love Records released “holed up” to many positive reviews coinciding with the group touring regularly, performing as a 3 piece. Gary also embarked on two separate month-long solo tours, playing every night, often paired with daytime radio and college shows, and sleeping where he could. He eventually settled home and began writing and recording his sophomore cd “Math and Magic”.
Curious to hear Setting Sun’s potential with outside production assistance, Levitt embarked on the recording of his 2nd album with producer Richard Chiu. With a different approach than the solo explorations of “holed up”, “Math and Magic” is more polished, produced, and collaborative than its lo-fi experimental predecessor. The intimacy of “holed up” is not lost, but perhaps served on a cleaner plate. Released on Young Love Records in 2005, songs “The Only One” and “Found it by Midnite” can be heard in the short film “Paper Jam”, which won several awards in the festival circuit including “best music”. Setting Sun has been getting increasing attention from the film and television industries. As more people get exposed many find the music to be a natural fit with the moving image.