26 Feb 2024
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Ivy - MNZ Interview: Cross Section S02 / E02 - Ivy

09 Feb 2024 // An interview by Shannon Coulomb

Aiming to dissect the cross section between the creative process and the industry side, Cross Section is an exciting interview series hosted by Shannon Coulomb.

Ivy are an up-and-coming alternative/progressive rock band from Dunedin, New Zealand. The captivating combination of classic rock and modern music makes for a unique fusion. Ivy gave us an insight to their talent for song writing with their catchy and upbeat debut single Stranger, released in September 2022. Their debut five track EP For the Sake of It showcases a talent for creating songs with innovative and compelling rhythms, melodies, vocal harmonies and lyrical flair. Ivy surprise, innovate and make an emotional connection through their music. With their debut EP, they have made a massive opening statement.

What does your creative process look like?


Most of our songs start from a musical idea, rather than a lyrical one. It might be a chord sequence or a melody or sometimes a complete demo that one of us has been working on. We will take that into our rehearsal space at North End Rowing Club, down by the Otago Harbour, and jam it for a while and add things that we think adds to the sound. Jesse, our lead singer and main lyricist, will sing a melody and at some point the music will inspire the lyrical idea. Sometimes a song comes together quickly and sometimes it takes a while. We jammed our newest song, North End, for a long time before it gelled, and we considered ourselves happy with it.

Sometimes our songs are by inspired by an event, whether that be a significant moment in history or something that has affected one of us more personally. As artists, we feel we should express ourselves about what affects us from day to day; about what is good and bad in society and the world. For our live sets we think about how and where a new song will fit, considering the dynamic and the practicality of playing it live so that we can perform with accuracy while producing a varied, interesting and energetic show. We try to design our live set so that people are buzzing when they leave.

Do you apply the same creative processes to other aspects of the Music Industry, for example, in your approach to marketing yourself?

We probably spend 95 per cent of our time on our music; creating, rehearsing, recording and performing. We are quite active on Instagram and have built up a decent size following, but the marketing side takes a back seat at the moment. Gen Z seems to be our largest audience demographic, but we don’t really have a target market. Everyone that likes our music is more than welcome into the Ivy House. This year we are doing our first headline tour - a four centre tour of the south end of the South Island. Performing live has been the most effective way for us to grow our following, along with releasing new songs.

Is your creative process something you feel to have locked down or does it generally change on a song by song/release by release basis?

Our process has definitely evolved over time. We are now comfortable to bring a partly formed idea into the group and jam it together until we have something that we feel excited about. Also, four of us now live in a shared flat so that has changed things! We can be far more spontaneous and immediate - we record demos at home for later work in our rehearsal space. One thing that is definitely locked down is that we never think about the constraints of genres when we are creating new music. If we like a sound and a style we will work with it and shape it until it sounds like Ivy.

What qualities do you appreciate the most in other musicians?

We love listening to bands that have originality and authenticity and have great energy in their live performances. As we are still relatively new on the scene, we have been extremely appreciative of bands that have given our profile a boost: Namely Midwave Breaks, and Marlin’s Dreaming who we supported on the Dunedin leg of their national tours. Also, there are a couple of local bands that have been super supportive to us that we really want to give a shout out, particularly Hot Sauce Club and The Beatniks. They have helped us a lot in the University music scene.

If you could collaborate with another NZ musician/band, who would it be?

There is a very long list! We really admire Marlon Williams and Nadia Reid. Also the Beths, Frank on Tap, No Cigar and Coast Arcade. We also really like the sick tunes coming from girl bands like Sure Boy and The Dawns. If we could gig or record with any of these at some point it would be amazing. We also have an epic song in the locker that we would love to collaborate on with a choir and symphony orchestra (note to Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, if you are reading!). We are taking small steps, but we do have ambitious plans.

How do you keep an eye to the future in regards to your work and work ethic? Do you generally focus on just the project at hand or are you considering how it fits into a larger plan?

We see Ivy as a long-term project that is only just beginning. To us, Ivy is the vehicle to being renowned for our musical creativity and live performances. We want to stick to our principles and do what we feel is right, always making music that we are proud of. Generally, individual songs are created in the moment, but we do have an album-worth of unrecorded material; songs we feel should be released as an album in a creative package, rather than as individual products. We are taking small steps and are in no rush, so we will continue to release singles this year. If and when we do have the resources and finances we will record the album, tour it around Aotearoa and then Australia. We also want to try and get onto a major festival next summer. By 2025 we aim to be well established in Aotearoa and hopefully then, we can expand our horizons.

Where have you had the most success in terms of marketing to the Aotearoa audience? If applicable, has this translated well to an international market?

Locally we have featured in the Critic (OUSA), and we have been invited to do two live to Air performances on Radio 1 91FM which was a brilliant experience. We were also featured in the Australian entertainment publication, Happy Mag, and our single Heartless was listed in their Top 8 songs out of Aotearoa during NZ Music month last year. Heartless stayed in the Radio One Top 11 for 8 weeks which gave us good exposure too. Interestingly, Our latest single North End is popular in Helsinki, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why!

There are so many resources available to musicians in Aotearoa, such as Muzic.net, Music Managers Forum Aotearoa and APRA/AMCOS. Have any of these (or other) NZ resources played a significant role in your journey so far?

We are still learning what’s out there – it’s a bit harder to be visible in the deep south. We definitely recommend using free resources as much as possible. Muzic.net has been helpful for us to get our name on the map through press releases and reviews. We’re incredibly grateful for the local opportunities granted to us by OUSA and Radio One 91FM, which have enabled us to participate in the Otago University music scene alongside other talented local bands. We’ve played live to air performances and competed in OUSA’s annual 'Bring the Noise' Competition, which we won in September 2023. The prize for winning was just awesome - 2 days recording at Sublime Studio in Kurow, plus other promotion prizes with Radio One.

Has having access to these resources led to any break-through moments for you, particularly in regards to crafting a successful narrative in your online presence?

It is still very early days for us to decide what is the most successful approach for us. In the last 18 months, we have done and experienced a lot of firsts; our first competition, first headline show, first tour and so on. Maybe we will recognise a break-through moment when we look back in a couple of years' time, but it’s too soon to say right now. We are set to make our first music video this year, so we are excited to see how that works for us.

Are there any resources that you would recommend to NZ musicians who are coming to terms with the business side of the craft?

Definitely become active in the NZ music industry as much as possible and engage with Muzic.net. We’re lucky enough to have received a lot of free help from friends and family for artwork, press releases, sharing of social media, gig promotions, invoicing and that kind of stuff. We do really appreciate this. This year we are hoping to be successful in getting included in the NZ On Air New Tracks. We will also apply for funding for future singles, album and tour through NZ On Air. We have also applied to enter the national battle of the bands competition this year which will be a great experience. We’d recommend utilising any free help when it’s available, apply for funding, be genuine about your music and stay true to what you enjoy.


*****

Shannon Coulomb is the co-songwriter, guitarist and producer for Auckland Based band Impostor Syndrome. He also plays bass for Swerve City and is currently the Head of Music at Birkenhead College, Auckland, as well as a tutor for Music Education at AUT University.

Impostor Syndrome:
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About Ivy

Ivy are an up and coming alternative/progressive rock band from Dunedin, New Zealand. The captivating combination of classic rock and modern music makes for a unique fusion.

Ivy gave us an insight to their talent for song writing with their catchy and upbeat debut single Stranger, released in September 2022. Their debut five track EP For the Sake of It showcases a talent for creating songs with innovative and compelling rhythms, melodies, vocal harmonies and lyrical flair.

Ivy surprise, innovate and make an emotional connection through their music. With their debut EP, they have made a massive opening statement.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ivy

Releases

For The Sake of It
Year: 2023
Type: EP

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