LVL1 Just Wants to Have Fun

You might know LVL1's infectious track "FVN!" from TikTok, Spotify's monolithic hyperpop playlist, or your friend's Instagram story. No matter how you found it, though, if you're online, it's definitely been stuck in your head at some point over the past month.

In July, the tune emerged and its catchy lyrics (“Cat-kitty-cat-cat-kitty-cat-cat!”) became home to nearly 500k TikToks and counting, including cat videos, anime edits, and people inevitably arguing over the pronunciation of the song’s Spanish lyrics. While LVL1 was shocked by the song’s sudden popularity, (“FVN!” was only her first song!), she’s not stopping anytime soon. In fact, they've been riding the wave of their TikTok fame and most recently released “LVCKY” alongside Rakky Ripper, which cements their distinctive sound and paves their path as an artist.

In early August, I had the chance to catch up with LVL1 over the phone about language, superstition, and the myriad of references within their songs.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

LVL1 sitting on a car graphic

Image courtesy of Jorge Parejo and Laura Cortés
Graphic by Zoe Axelrod

Ringtone Magazine: Tell us a little bit about yourself!

LVL1: Well, I'm Luli. I'm a singer and rapper from Andalusia, Spain. I'm nonbinary. I go by she/they pronouns. And I really like making fun music and just doing whatever I like.

Did you think that your first song would be this popular?

No, not at all. I mean, it took me by surprise. I've always known that I wanted to do something big with my music. I mean, maybe that's the dream of everyone that makes music, but I didn't expect my first single to go viral. That was just awesome.

And do you think it's overwhelming at all?

Yeah, at first, it was madness. I couldn't escape my own song.

Oh no!

Oh, yeah. I would try to relax and think about other things. But my song would be there all the time. And it's cool. It's really cool. But it's also overwhelming — all the attention that I've been receiving. And a lot of people are trying to contact me. It's all new for me. But at the same time, I really like it. It's like, yeah, this is what I wanted to do in my life. So I'm not complaining.

Would you say that you ever get tired of hearing your own song on TikTok?

I mean, yeah, but mostly because it's always the same part, and that's not even the chorus of the song. So you kind of get tired of that. But I don't know. It's just because I'm really used to hearing them. And I still like the sound in general.

Are there any creators on TikTok that have used your song that you've been excited to see?

Yeah, there's this girl [@jennylek] that I used to follow for a long time now that makes really, really cool edits, like, you know, in a glitchy, aesthetic way. And she followed me and made an edit to my song. I've also seen some big TikTokers, like Benji Krol. I don't know the names — I'm not really into those young TikTokers.

I've seen people who speak Spanish, English and even like Russian using your song on TikTok. How does it feel to kind of know that you've made a song that goes above and beyond language barriers?

I mean, it's super cool. I find it a little funny when the lip syncs don't match, but I think it's adorable; I really appreciate it. I've seen a lot of people kind of making fun of them. And that's not the vibe I want to have. And also a lot of debate about if people from other countries should be able to sing it if they don't know Spanish, I don't know. Crazy! I'm not gonna get into that. People all over the world are learning a song in a different language? I think it's so cool.

I also saw your TikTok where you were saying that that one line about the cameras was a reference to the one meme of Greta Thunberg. Are there any other subtle references or inspirations in either of your songs that we might have missed?

Yeah, maybe. I think it's a little bit obvious, but in the first verse, you have a reference to the Kim Possible main theme. "Pero llama, grita, si me necesitas." See, this is the Spanish version of "Call me, beep me, if ya wanna reach me." And I also put the sound [of the Kim Possible phone beeping]. In "LVCKY," I just reference a lot of inside jokes between me and my friends. When I say "Teléfono pistola," I'm referring to my best friend's phone case that has the shape of a gun, so it's a pistol phone. I don't know why I did that, it just fit in the verse.

The main reference I think it would be the chorus, the "Girls just wanna have fun," that's a Cyndi Lauper reference. But I thought that it was kind of obvious even though a lot of people didn't get it. Me talking about Desigual, the brand is, I don't know how it is in the rest of the world, but here in Spain, the English teachers always wear this brand. I don't know why, so I say "Drip Desigual como la profe de inglés," which is "Wearing Desigual like the English teacher." That's a Spanish culture reference.

This is one that I hope it's not seen as something problematic because I was just trying to be funny. I'm rhyming. But when I say "I don't introduce myself, they already know me, Soy la que va más ciega que la ONCE," it's a wordplay. In Spanish when you're high or drunk, you say you are blind. So I said, "I'm the one that's blinder than the [Spanish National Organisation of the Blind]. It rhymes, okay?

There's this little reference to this fun video that says "Si ya sabías cómo me ponía, Pa' qué me sigue' invitando to'avía?" It's this drunk guy saying, "If you know how I will end up, why did you invite me in the first place?" So I referenced that saying that exact same thing.

The "cat kitty cat" part, it's just a reference to the chant in the voguing world and music. And it's not that I can do it. Like, it's not the same, I'm just some girl trying to reference the music that I like. But that part took a lot from the chant, in Vogue. And this one is really important. "Ya dejé la Mafia pero sigo siendo Queer" — a lot of people took that phrase out and used it without really knowing what I meant, and kind of gave it their own interpretation. But the fact is that there is no critique about anything. It's just me saying that I was in this band called Queer Mafia. So I quit, but I'm still queer. A lot of people understood this as if I was referencing the LGBTQ mafia or something. No, it's just the name of my band.

That's a lot of references.

Yeah, that's the way I ride.

Let's talk "LVCKY" — do you believe in luck? Anything like astrology? Are you superstitious?

I'm more superstitious every year that passes by because a lot of things that happen that don't have an explanation have happened. And I don't know. It just makes you believe that there's shit that we don't know. I feel like I manifested this, this thing that is happening to me. I feel like I've been manifesting this my whole life.

Do you manifest things a lot?

Yeah. But like, maybe before it wasn't something that conscious. It was like, I would repeat all the time, "Yeah, I'm gonna be famous. Yeah, I'm gonna make it!" I would always say that, but not knowing that it was the concept of manifestation. It was just my mindset.

It worked!

Yeah, it's awesome.

Where do you hope that people will listen to your music?

Definitely clubs. Mainly clubs. I make this kind of music thinking that it is the music that I would like to listen to when I go out. My goal is to make people dance and all of that.

Finally, what have you been listening to lately? Are there any artists that we should look out for?

I've been listening to many different songs not as specific artists, but more like, you know, my Spotify on random. But I've been really vibing with Eurodance. You know, Para Para music. Yeah, Euro culture and everything. That was my vibe lately. Also, I'm trying to listen to more K-pop because I think it sounds really cool, especially the girl groups. I like the sound of TWICE and Red Velvet and Girls' Generation. I've been listening to that a little. And also, you know, Doja Cat with her new album. A little bit of everything. Also Tyler, The Creator's new album. It's been on repeat, too. Yeah. I'm a big fan.

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