Livan “Happy Returns”

Eugene Ricansky
Add Date:
July 30, 2009


Hey, everybody, it’s Andy Gesner and the staff from HIP Video Promo, proud to be able to spread the word about a courageous artist with an incredible backstory. Think American pop stars have had to overcome adversity? They’ve got nothing on the UK artist known throughout Europe and in the UK as LIVAN (pronounced Lie’van). The energetic electro-rocker is the grandson of the last popularly-elected prime minister of Greece before the coup that delivered the country’s government into the hands of a right-wing military junta. LIVAN’s early life was one of exile, resistance, and ostracism: not from his schoolmates or from his parents, but from his entire nation. These experiences inform all of the music he writes – the dark edge on the Happy Returns full-length comes not from the artist’s imaginings, but from his own misfortunes. LIVAN has survived his own personal turmoil, and matured into a sharp, witty songwriter with plenty to say.

As articulate as he is, and clever as he can be, he never forgets he’s a rocker first. LIVAN has developed a provocative sound reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails and the tougher side of Bowie – but as this fiercely-independent auteur is indebted to nobody but himself, consider those comparisons as points of reference only. “Happy Returns”, his latest single, is a tale of psychic destabilization and loss of control, and LIVAN performs it with rare energy, commitment, and abandon that makes the content utterly believable. And even as he sings of his own deteriorating mental state, his astute political consciousness seeps into the lyric (the sardonic “King Of The World”, another standout cut on Happy Returns, is a much more explicit elaboration of the singer’s trenchant worldview).

To realize his darkvision, LIVAN has had plenty of help from high-profile musicians. Veteran songwriter and producer John Robertson (Sky, Morcheeba, Sinead O’Connor) contributed to the track’s dense, hypnotic arrangement; red-hot engineer Nat Chan (Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Granddaddy) mixed the explosive cut. Expressive guitarist Will Crewdson (Rachel Stamp) and seasoned session drummer Damon Wilson (Bon Jovi, Ray Davies, Patti LaBelle, dozens of others) add their considerable talents to the recording. But LIVAN handled production duties himself, and he’s done so skillfully: he’s seen the song through from its inception to its release.

Indeed, there’s real depth to this multifaceted artist – a fact reinforced by the dramatic (and sexy) clip for “Happy Returns”. It’s a nighttime clip, full of gorgeous bodies and tight, dangerous corners. But this video isn’t shot in a club; instead, the camera finds LIVAN confined in some seriously bizarre quarters. The singer’s room resembles a strange – and wholly successful – conflation of a cell in an insane asylum and a booth in a peep show theatre. At the beginning of the clip, the singer is crouched on the floor, crushed by the weight of his own ideas; still, a spotlight sweeps the walls, and LIVAN grabs a hanging microphone and begins to sing. Arms protrude through the slats in the doors that surround him – and when we look into the adjacent rooms, we’re treated to footage of gorgeous girls. Some are chained up, some are playing with each other, and some are playing alone. As the barriers fall, we’re left with this question: is LIVAN the voyeur or the entertainment, the hunter or the quarry?

We are pleased to be working with Koo Abuali at FireWire Music Company to bring you the “Happy Returns” music video. If you need any LIVAN items for contests or on-air giveaways or more info about Livan, call Andy Gesner at 732-613-1779 or e-mail us at