4/12/2016 tunes4loons 0 Comments

In typical T4L fashion, this interview is long overdue. Let's just say that if this interview were a pop culture reference, it would be Jerry Seinfeld's controversial "Tropics of Cancer" book. For all you 55-going-on-21-year-olds out there, that reference was for you. For everyone else, sorry, but we already got your page-view so you're basically of no use to us anymore #byeFelicia. But instead leaving tunes4loons to waste your time looking at Buzzfeed blow-up a watermelon, or researching your eye-twitch on WebMD, stay here for a while more and read our interview with the lovely, ambient-pop singer, IYVES. She's cool, she's talented, and she rocks the perfectly-coiffed, curly-haired mane like Grace Coddington wishes she could:

T4L: I guess the first question would be: have you always been musical growing up? Is your family musical? How did you get into this as a career?
IYVES: I was always really affected by music. I have this very early memory of my dad bring home this wind-up toy my grandpa gave him that played "Memories" from the show Cats. And I would just sob to it. It's crazy what music does for musicians, non-musicians, whoever. My parents aren't musicians, but they obviously really love music and brought that into our house. It was a big part of my upbringing—music was always on. And then I started taking voice lessons when I was about 7 or 8 and from there it kind of snowballed.

T4L: So when did you decide that you were going to make this your career?
IYVES: I knew in middle-school and high school that music was where my passion was. There was nothing I felt quite the same way doing. Then the summer after my junior year I went to camp for 5 weeks at Berkeley. I was so scared to do it, but it ended up being one of the best summers of my life. It just confirmed this is what I need to be doing.

Then after college I moved to New York and one of my friends, Luca, was my producer for like two years her. He took me into the realm of music that I wanted to be making because I think, first and foremost, I'm a soul, R&B singer. But I don't want to necessarily be pigeon-holed into that genre. There are so many other influences I have. I love indie, and electronic, and folk. So being able to kind of create my own universe of what that is was what I wanted. And he [Luca] is an extremely talented guy and was able to help me get there. And up to the present, I'm now working with another producer. It's kind of just this constant evolution. 

T4L: How did you come up with your stage name?
IYVES:  I was just tossing around a bunch of different names. And I was looking at more two-word combinations and "IYVES" always was one of them. And then my manager at the time was just like "why don't you just go by IYVES? I feel like it's a very goddess-y, powerful name." And I was like yeah, it's kind of cool.

T4L: What's your songwriting process like?
IYVES: I do a lot of collaborations. A lot of my producers have ended up being my co-writers. I do sit down and write music alone. I come up with a melody first and then with the lyrics it's a little harder for me. But the melodies, I am constantly coming up with. I have a million voice memos of things I think of. But I do enjoy collaborating. If I find a songwriter I can really click with, I really like a collaborative process.

T4L: When you think of song concepts, do you draw from an experience or do you take a theme that you want to explore and work through it that way?
IYVES: A lot of it, in the past, has been thematic, yet sort of autobiographical. But, as of recently, I'm like, "I need to dig deeper, and I need to get personal here." So I'm drawing from personal experience—pain, happiness, everything in between. I just think that's going to cut through and really make my music go to the next level.

T4L: How often do you write? Do you ever encounter writer's block and, if so, how do you deal with it?
IYVES: I find that if I'm writing in a timeline, like I have specific dates for recording sessions, I can write well. But I'm not someone who just sits and writes all the time. There are periods of my life where I do write and then there are periods of my life where I feel completely uncreative and I have to wait for that spark again. It's a cycle.

T4L: Obviously both are important, but, first and foremost, would you consider yourself a performer or a songwriter?
IYVES: For a while I would have said a performer. I was definitely more heavily performing than songwriter at one point in my life. But now that I'm spending most of the days of the week honing my craft and writing, that has become such a place for me right now: working on songs, writing, recording, etc. Songwriting definitely feels just as much of a part of me now [as performing does].

T4L: Since the time you started writing music, do you feel like your style has evolved a lot? It sounds like it has.
IVYES: It has. And I wouldn't say I feel like I'm falling into something I'd never be into, it was just figuring out how to get there. There's a quote by Ira Glass about as artists, we all have this great taste, but actually being able to make something and create is so hard. You're very critical of your own work because you know it's not quite there yet. I'm extremely critical of myself and have my own struggles of being overly critical and not letting art just be art. I definitely feel that the style I'm coming into is becoming more and more authentic.

Then we get our food. The audio is just a gaggle of ooooo's and an appreciative
"damn"—as if a sexy man walk by and we were the overly-giddy chorus of a '50's-set Broadway musical. But, no. This was just our Jewish brunch coming. Well, IVYES 

and Balderstons' Jewish brunch, and my burger #'murica.

T4L: We wanna ask about influences: who were some artists your parents loved and introduced you to and, growing up, who did you discover on your own? And then, currently, who are you drawn to and passion about?
IYVES: A big memory of mine is driving with my parents to go skiiing, and my Dad always had the Beatles on in the car. He's definitely a classic-rock guy since he's a child of the late-'50's-60's. And I come from a Jewish family but my mom, every Sunday, would have gospel music playing. She loves soul and blues. 

T4L: Gospel music is like... amazing (we are so basic and white, S-M-H)
IYVES: I always wanted to be in a gospel choir! I just really have always loved soul, from an early age I have always gravitated towards that.  The first song I wanted to sing with the first voice teacher I ever had was "Natural Woman," and she wouldn't let me sing it because I was like 8 years old. So I found another voice teacher. Then moving into other realms [of influences]: anything indie-rock, and currently I'm into James Blake. He took soul music into a whole new place and I really like music that comes out of the U.K. They're just ahead of the game.

T4L: Okay, so, James Blake, who else are you listening to right? 
IYVES: I hop around so much lately, I feel very ADD and I don't like that. I like getting really into an artist. I love Radiohead. So much. I really love Lianne La Havas, Jessie Ware. I've been really trying to go back to true vocalists. I got really deep into the world of cool sound-scaping music and I want to pull back and go back to the root of why I started making music and go back to really vocal-forward music. Not being so much a sound, but a voice.

T4L: What's next for you? Do you have any specific goals for the new year?
IYVES: Yeah, I definitely do. I'm working with this new producer right now who I'm really excited about because I think he really hears my voice and also understands where I want to be as an artist. So we're working on a new batch of music that I think will be really exciting for people because they're going to finally hear my voice. So we're working on this new EP, which I hope to get out in spring / summer. Then from there, touring would be ideal and, eventually, playing festivals.

T4L: Social Media. Are you into it or not? Do you think it's a helpful tool for artists or a hinderance to deal with?
IYVES: I definitely think it's a positive thing because you can communicate with so many more people and let people get to know you. And yes, these are all very superficial things. But I love, personally, just taking photos, so Instagram's fun for me as a person. 

T4L: If you could play anywhere in the world, where would you play?
IYVES: This is kind of a boring answer, but there's a venue in Colorado called "Red Rocks" and it's the most magical venue I've ever been to. You can't see a bad show there, you can't. And if I could perform there I would be so happy. Artists all the time are on stage and they're just like "this is definitely the best venue I've ever been to." So you see it happen to artists all the time, it's a magical experience for them, so that's probably where I would chose.

T4L: Favorite show you've seen this year?
IYVES: I saw Jose Gonzalez. I love his music but I thought the concert was gonna be pretty chill and low-key. But it was unbelievable.

T4L: Dream collab?
IYVES: I would love to collaborate with SBTRKT. And be a featured artist on one of their albums or them on mine. I feel like that circle of people has a lot of male influences, Samba, is one of them for example. 
T4L: Jessie Ware!
IYVES: Yes, Jessie Ware is in that crew too! And I feel like they need room for another girl in there. So anyone in that realm.
T4L: Jamie xx?
IYVES: YES! I loved his most recent album. So yeah, as far as collaboration goes, anyone with like soul, electronic, UK vibes. 

T4L: If you could be trapped on a desert island with any other artist, who would it be?
IYVES: I'm definitely going back in time. Maybe John Lennon. Definitely one of the Beatles. I'll take any of them. I just think the Beatles story is unbelievable and the synergy and the music. . . Just everything. 

T4L: Favorite Beatles song? 
IYVES: I can't tell you a definitive favorite, but one I'm really intrigued by right now is "Because." I would love to cover it or do something with it. It's not necessarily my favorite of all time, but right now I'm into it.

T4L: If you could follow one band around the country who would it be?
IYVES: One band?
T4L: Yeah, like an almost famous type scenario. If you could be the Penny Lane to any band, who would it be?
IYVES: Hmm, I'm trying to thing who I wouldn't get sick of. Maybe if Radiohead was doing they're thing, that would be cool. Coldplay, or Bon Iver. I'm trying to think of music that makes me really feel, no matter what.


(Note that right when we started this section of questioning, 'Take On Me" started blaring in the rustic, Jewish eatery. Odd choice of music from 

Tevye and Golde, but much appreciated, as the pump-up 80's synth was 

the purrrfect soundtrack for "Would You Rather")

T4L:Wear oven mitts for a year or ski boots?
IYVES: For a year? Oven mitts sound warm, especially here, so I'll go with that.
T4L: But think about texting!?!? (the epitome of a millennial reaction)
IYVES: But you can just talk. Siri's got me, she's my girl. Ski boots... are terrible. I can't walk in that shit.

T4L: Own an elephant-sized puppy or a puppy-sized elephant?
IYVES: Puppy-sized elephant, that sounds so cute.

T4L: Have a time machine that only goes back in time or a time machine that only goes forward in time?
IYVES: I guess back in time. Just because since we already know our history, it would be interesting to actually see it for what it is. Whereas the future, we'll get there when we get there. 

T4L: Live in the house of your dreams but it doesn't have internet, or live where you are forever?
IYVES: House of my dreams. I'll go to a[n internet] café. 

T4L: Be 10 minutes late or 20 minutes early for everything?
IYVES: Well girls, today was a very prime example of my bad habit. I'm really bad at being on time. Really bad. So definitely 20 minutes early for everything. 

T4L: Be the famous author of Twilight, or the famous author every Nickelback song?
IYVES: Twilight.
T4L: Everyone's said Twilight.
IYVES: That's cause Twilight is actually, like, a piece of work kind of. Nickelback is questionable.