Producer Nadav Chatinover & Singer/Guitarist Max Shakun discuss their latest project, Le Vie, and how it all began.
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The last few years have been busy ones for both Producer Nadav Chatinover and Singer/Guitarist Max Shakun. Nadav, also known as Davwave, has been working with Portuguese artists like Richie Campbell, Mishlawi, and LA based artist Trace Nova. Nadav recently spent some time in Portugal working on new music after working on Richie Campbell’s latest album, Lisboa. Max, a singer and guitarist in the folk-rock band Parsonsfield, has been touring with the band throughout the United States after recently releasing their fourth studio album, WE.
This year, they’re adding to their plates with the release of Le Vie, their self-titled debut album which combines both of their backgrounds — Max’s indie-rock sound and Nadav’s hip-hop/trap productions. Aislin spoke to both members to learn more about their beginnings, from childhood to present day, as well as what they envision for their future.
THEIR BEGINNINGS: Max & Nadav have been friends since they were children, attending the same day school. Max remembers the beginning of their friendship fondly, “[Nadav] used to break my pinky when he was in kindergarten and I was in second grade.” Nadav tries to clear the air by stating that it was just once during recess. They used to play sports with some of the other kids, and one day he says to Max, “Let’s see how far your pinky bends,” and he almost broke it trying to find out. “But we were really tight as kids,” he continues. "So it’s a cool experience working on this with someone you’ve known for that long.”
Max grew up playing piano at a young age. He was introduced to AC/DC by his best friend in 6th grade which opened his ears up to rock & roll. He had been playing the guitar for just a month in 8th grade before joining his middle school jazz band, and then continued to play in various bands throughout high school.
It was during his time studying music in college that he joined Parsonsfield. Today they continue to tour all over the world. “I’ve been touring with Parsonsfield for about 5-6 years now and we have been through it all together,” Max explains. “We’ve played festivals in other countries where you can only see an ocean of faces singing along with you, and we’ve played to rooms where you hope there are more people in the audience than on stage. The touring lifestyle definitely has its highs and its lows.”
Nadav started drumming in first grade after getting a toy drum set for Hanukkah, but didn’t start making beats till the 5th grade. He came home from summer camp wanting to make a beat to accompany his friends’ comical rap titled “I’m the TSA Bitch, I Don’t Take No Shit”. 6 years later, after starting a fake, nonsensical-Hebrew-lyriced pop group named Hayeladim Rambunctios Me’od with Max’s brother, and hustling cds throughout his middle school, Max heard Nadav’s newest beats and realized his production skills had improved. The duo started working on an album for Max, which was never released but it was the start of something new. They grew as musicians and closer as friends. It was also the turning point for Nadav, who was encouraged by Max to major in music production as opposed to minoring in it. From that point on, he began to take his music more seriously.
Spending the majority of college locked in the studio making beats, Nadav decided he wanted to travel and took his senior fall semester off to do so. His plan was to couch surf with various musicians, record them, and make a world album, while simultaneously making an international beat album inspired by his travels. He ended his trip in Portugal with Mishlawi, a musician signed by Richie Campbell. Mishlawi told him to start sending some of his beats to Richie, who had just started working on a dancehall album. After the trip, Nadav sent a new beat to Richie every day, trying something new each time.
“I had heard a lot of beats and I thought they were cool, but I kind of wanted to put my own spin on it. I didn’t know if they would like it or not, but I was getting kind of bored so I thought I’m going to try that out and see if they like it. Eventually whatever I did, they liked, so they said we’re going to bring you out [to Portugal].” After graduating in 2016, they flew him out that June to work on Richie’s album. They primarily worked on the song Heaven, which became the second single of the album and went on to go platinum.
"We were both in places in our lives where we were cool with everything but wanted more fulfilling lives, and we were hopeful this would bring us a better life.”
CREATING “LE VIE”: Max and Nadav always had the idea to make music together again in the future, and when they both found themselves with some free time in between touring and traveling, they immediately got to work. The idea to mix indie with trap was realized as Max was sending Nadav multiple phone demos of song ideas. Nadav started putting trap drums behind the songs and knew that this was something he had to follow through with; he wanted to create a new lane of indie trap.
The duo’s name, Le Vie, is partially inspired by Nadav’s brother Levi, and partially inspired by the french word “la vie” meaning “the life”. "We went through name after name and they just weren’t working. Then one day I jokingly said, What about Levi? It might have been because I was looking up something in french and I saw that ‘la vie’ meant ‘the life’. Plus, my brother was about to have a kid; he was bringing in a new life, and he’s kind of like a legend, so we wanted to embody that” Nadav clarifies. "But also the name, I thought it was interesting being a french word. It’s not grammatically correct, but we just thought it sounded cool. We were both in places in our lives where we were cool with everything but wanted more fulfilling lives, and we were hopeful this would bring us a better life.”
"If you’re going to have a song that isn’t really geared towards the lyrics sometimes you have to wonder, what’s the point in that song?”
COMBINING THEIR STYLES: When it comes to the music, Max uses his rock background to write and sing the songs, while Nadav uses his hip-hop and world production background to finish the songs off. For Max, he likes to approach songwriting by tapping into the thoughts flowing through his conscious mind.
"Sometimes my favorite way to write a song is writing whatever comes to mind. Just getting a thought and using your stream of consciousness to get something down on the page. Even if those thoughts seem relatively random at first, because they’re all coming from the same process of pulling out of your own mind, a lot of the time I do find thematic connections between the lyrics.” Other times he simply focuses on writing stories, as he did for “Shrimp”, which is inspired by a painting from his parents’ house. “The painting really only captured the first lyric in the entire song, and then I just made a story based off of that, kind of like inventing a brand new world.”
But it’s not always about the lyrics, and the duo makes sure to keep a balance between meaningful lyrics and songs with a certain vibe that simply put you in a better mood. Max describes this revelation while writing one of their songs titled, “Ba Da Ba Ba”. "I actually wrote a bunch of verses for it and had the song be about a specific feeling to me. Then Nadav and I were talking about it and we enjoyed the song the way I originally sang it, just using sounds. We agreed that having a song that’s so easy to sing along to transcends it and makes it more universal for anyone in the world to enjoy. Something that has a regular song structure doesn’t need to have words that someone may or may not necessarily care about anyway. There are a lot of people who really do care about lyrics, and there are some songs that are really geared towards that, but if you’re going to have a song that isn’t really geared towards the lyrics sometimes you have to wonder, what’s the point in that song?”
It’s been an interesting journey for Max, being more of a singer-songwriter, to focus more on the general feeling of a song rather than focusing on the story you’re trying to tell through the lyrics. "I think with the world that Max comes from, lyrics hold more of a grounding,” Nadav explains further, “But for me, there’s a lot of music coming out now where you might not understand what the rapper is saying, but it’s about the vibe the song has.”
INFLUENCES: As expected, Max and Nadav have very different influences with some overlap in between. While Nadav finds his inspiration from artists including Pharrell, Rick Rubin, Kanye West, Timbaland, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Max finds his in Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Santana (though he states that he always has a different answer for this question, depending on the day and his mood). Both are inspired by The Beatles, Fleet Foxes, and Tame Impala.
Nadav specifically notes that his time spent working with Richie Campbell, Trace Nova, & Mishlawi influenced him immensely. “Working with them definitely had a huge impact on me. Musically, influencing how I produce, I definitely grew a lot from working with the three of them.” Similarly, Max credits a lot of what he’s learned throughout the years to his time spent working with his band Parsonsfield.
“We've been really good about trying a lot of different ideas out. The best artists are constantly reinventing themselves.”
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE FOR LE VIE LOOK LIKE?: Although both Max and Nadav are busy with their own separate music careers, Le Vie is not a one time project. When asked if this duo begins and ends with the release of their self-titled album, Max let us know that there are already future projects for Le Vie in the works. He talks about the songs they’ve been working on, stating, “We've been really good about trying a lot of different ideas out. The best artists are constantly reinventing themselves.” Nadav sees the importance of having a certain look and sound, but wants flexibility when thinking about the future of Le Vie. “If you don’t have a look and a sound, then how do people know who you are? At the same time, we don’t want to get boxed in. We want to show that we can do a variety of things, that way, with the next album, it’s not like everyone is saying we miss the old sound. That happens too often, an artist puts out something good and then everyone just wants them to repeat what they’ve already made.”