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Levi’s Music Project Relaunches with Khalid

Rivet’s 2021 winter issue has dropped! This in-depth issue examines the steps the global denim industry is taking to minimize its impact on the environment, from implementing zero waste production and design processes to establishing greenhouse gas emissions goals aligned with the Paris Agreement.

Levi’s is underscoring the connection between denim and music by reviving a project intended to help aspiring young musicians meet their goals.

The brand is bringing back the Levi’s Music Project in partnership with Grammy-nominated R&B artist Khalid to connect artists with hopeful musicians for mentorship in-person and on Discord, a popular social forum that fosters online communities. The project brings music education resources to young global creatives, starting with Khalid’s Texas hometown of El Paso.

To kick off the program, Khalid invited a group musicians chosen for their creativity, authenticity and focus on community to create their own remixes of his hit song “Better.” The project provided the artist’s vocals and stems—the building blocks of a song recording—to all participants.

There are 13 global artists participating in the project as of Monday, with additional artists to be added through Wednesday when it ends. Winners will be featured in an upcoming music video alongside Khalid.

Levi’s promoted the program’s latest iteration on its social pages, as well as with video interviews giving a behind-the-scenes look at Khalid’s song recording with sound engineer Denis Kosiak, who, alongside the singer, will mentor winners in a feedback workshop Discord session where they’ll break down the production of the remix as well as provide feedback and tips.

Since launching in the U.S. in 2015, Levi’s Music Project has featured artists like Alicia Keys, Skepta, Rosalia, SZA and Snoop Dogg. Most recently, it tapped Grammy Award-winning artist and Memphis native Justin Timberlake to enhance Stax Music Academy, a South Memphis, Tenn.-based music institute that trains young artists on music theory, composition, business and leadership.

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The collaboration birthed “The Song Lab,” a remodeled facility containing donated song-producing equipment. Timberlake surprised students with two days of songwriting and performance workshops and helped them hone their songs in preparation for a performance in front of friends and family. He also created a $100,000 scholarship fund for the facility and worked with Levi’s to develop a songwriting program for 30 students.

Beyond the U.S., the Levi’s Music Project has also gained traction in Europe, where it debuted in 2016. The project is active in four markets across Europe, including the U.K., France, Germany and Spain. In 2019, the brand announced plans to transform a whole venue at the Liverpool Sound City festival into public learning spaces to further the initiative.

Levi’s connection to music spans decades, with various partnerships with popular musicians such as Grateful Dead and American R&B artist DaniLeigh. The brand also periodically drops collections that channel the aesthetic of different music scenes—once with a post-punk/pre-grunge theme and another one centered on American folk influences.

To provide some levity during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the brand also produced a daily Instagram Live concert series featuring musicians performing from their homes. The initiative helped connect viewers and support both the arts and Covid-19 relief through donations to charities like the MusicCares Coronavirus Relief Fund and the Global Citizen / WHO’s Solidarity Response.

The heritage denim brand isn’t the only company in the industry celebrating the intersection of music and fashion. Lucky Brand’s latest collection features Grammy-nominated musician Andrew Bird and Iron & Wine, who created acoustic videos inside California’s Yosemite National Park to drive support for U.S. national parks. Earlier this year, Tommy Hilfiger debuted its “Music Takes Us Further” campaign centering on musicians, poets and other creatives that all utilize the power of music to drive social change.