THE STORY OF BOOTLEG:
Justin and David first met in 2009 and an immediate friendship began. It was during this first meeting that they both expressed their love of piano and their interest in film scoring. Their 4 hand piano improvisations were soon to follow. “One day we simply sat down together and jammed” says Justin. “It was a lot of fun but we never took it too seriously. We simply enjoyed playing for pleasure”.
Although they considered their 4 hand improvisations a side venture, they did take note of their musical chemistry. For the next 10 years Justin and David began organizing several piano concerts plus other special events around the Bay Area. During these performances many of their friends filmed them on their phones or camcorders. Little did everyone know these videos would later become the pieces of an artistic movie project.
During the lockdown of 2019-20 many artists found themselves struggling with the restrictions placed on them. “I remember feeling isolated during those years” recalls David “and to keep inspired I would listen to recordings of past performances I was involved in. It was then that I came across a lot of videos that our friends took of Justin and I playing over the years. It really lifted my spirits watching them and immediately had to share them with Justin”.
“It really was uplifting to hear these performances” says Justin. “That’s when we came up with the idea to make an album. Not to market, but just for ourselves and our family and friends. We didn't mind that some of the video's audio were not up to commercial standards. In fact, that’s what inspired the name of the album – Bootleg – as bootleg recordings are generally poor in sound quality”.
The process involved watching and listening to hours of videos. During this time, they stumbled upon a website that sold stock footage of images and videos. Inspired with what they saw they decided to download a humorous clip and through iMovie, edited the footage into one of their piano improv videos. “It was hilarious” recalls David. “That was the turning point that turned Bootleg the album into Bootleg the movie”.
During the lockdown the two spent months transforming many of their friend’s videos into something more fun and entertaining to watch. David recalls “creating Bootleg The Movie during a pandemic was a catharsis for us. We didn’t make it for commercial reasons”. It was a passion project. It helped us get through some difficult times and we’re both very proud of it. We’re hoping it puts a smile on everyone’s face”. “I often referred to improvising with David like Running downhill backwards, while blindfolded” says Justin. “I love how we would simply start playing and creating a world together in real time, inspiring one another from note to note”. Looking back, I still can’t believe all of it was improv.”
"Performing 4 hand piano improvisation with David is like running downhill backwards blindfolded"
- Justin Levitt