- Words Aimee Phillips
The Ivy's Shawn chats about the band's journey so far, their writing process, and variety of influences.
The synth-pop trio, who hail from Oklahoma, make atmospheric, dreamlike music that verges on the cinematic. The kind of music that makes you want to go on a spontaneous road trip, just so you can blast their music out with the windows down.
Formed of Shawn, Wyatt and Zack, the group first met at music school and local concerts. They began to release music in 2017 with their debut EP, ‘Next Stop’. This was soon followed but by the popular singles “Gold” and “Have You Ever Been in Love”. Over the next few years, The Ivy released a steady stream of singles, all in keeping with the recognisable 80s-leaning sound that they’d carved out early on. Now, the band are back with their latest EP, the six-track ‘We Move Faster At Night’.
Before COVID-19 put the live music industry on pause, The Ivy had been grafting continuously to perfect their live show. In the three years that they’ve been active, The Ivy had already secured slots headlining and performing alongside big names like LANY, Jai Wolf, Shallou and Milky Chance.
We spoke to Shawn about how The Ivy started, their creative process, and his advice for new artists just starting out. Dive in below!
How would you describe your sound to people who haven’t heard your music before?
Our sound is indie music with huge synths and catchy melodies that make you feel something, hopefully.
How did your journey start?
Wyatt and I met at music production school in Oklahoma City in 2016 and immediately hit it off and started writing music together. A year later we released our first EP and met Zack at a live show in early 2017.
You’re one of the first indie bands to emerge from the recent Oklahoma music scene. How has that scene influenced your musical style?
Its an honour to come from a city that has produced indie artists the likes of The Flaming Lips. In many ways, I’m sure our musical influence has been sculpted by Oklahoma, but also with how globalized media is these days its harder to pin a location to our influences.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?
We each have vastly different musical influences which make for a unique writing experience. As a band, we pull inspiration from M83, Bon Iver, Tears For Fears, The 1975, Death Cab for Cutie, Coldplay and many others.
Your song “Gold” has been wildly successful – getting into the top 5 of the US charts! How much does chart success matter to you as a band?
“Gold” was the first song all three of us wrote together, so it holds a dear place in our hearts. We thought it sounded different than our other songs but didn’t at all expect it to gain the traction it did. The success of that song brought us to where we are now, so more songs charting is definitely the goal, but not the reason we do what we do!
Your song “Runaway Dream” – from your newly released EP ‘We Move Faster At Night’ is about chasing someone but never getting it quite right. How much of your writing is autobiographical, and how much of it is fictionalised?
Usually, as we are writing a song, an idea of what it will be about is already portrayed by the melodies and production. So when we write the lyrical story we are pulling from our own experiences or those that we’ve romanticized in our heads from something external.
Give me a window into your writing process – how do you write a song?
Every song has been written in a slightly different way, but typically we will start with an idea, whether chord progression, drum beat or even a strong emotion that we turn into a track. We then sit with the music and write vocal melodies and lyrics to the music.
How has lockdown impacted your creation process?
Lockdown has allowed each of us to practice and experiment with different styles of production, to hopefully influence future music. But it has been difficult not working together as much as we would like.
Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?
Write what you want to write, not what you think others want to hear. And use your resources at hand!
What’s next for you?
Unfortunately with concerts on pause, we don’t know when we will be performing live next, but we are writing a lot and have new music we’re excited to share!