With a refreshingly honest approach to music, Ivy Red has been making waves in the New Zealand music scene with his introspective and personal style of songwriting. We caught up with him to discuss how he creates his songs, his thoughts on the New Zealand scene as well as his future music plans.
Drawing inspiration from the likes of Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Sinatra, Ivy Red’s music transcends what would be described as a traditional sound. Bouncing between genres, the versatile artist has a hauntingly beautiful approach to songwriting that is difficult to put in a box.
Ivy Red explains there are two parts of himself that come to life during the creative process. “My music has two very strong sides. It has the personal side, which is what’s happening when I’m creating. If I’m in the studio, that’s the side I try to tap into. I guess it’s a very personal thing, it’s almost like something out of myself and what I use to carry on. But then also I want to be able to use my music to help other people, which would be the other side of me.”
With a distinct lack of emotion in most mainstream songs, the need to create something real is as important as ever. Spreading awareness of mental health issues and reaching out to people that might need support or guidance is a major part of why Ivy Red makes music. With the artist himself understanding the weight that words in a song can carry.
“Making this type of music is super important to me, it’s one of the main reasons I do it. It’s because I’ve found music like it, and it’s done something for me that I can’t explain. That’s what I try and create myself, because I want to be able to help other people. I’ve been in places where I’ve had nothing and nowhere to look, and it’s been as little as a song that’s pulled my head to think a different way and carry on.”
With an open and transparent approach to making music, Ivy Red seeks to create something that can help others. To inspire people that are like him to find solace in art, and not be afraid to express themselves.
“The main thing is awareness. I guess I’m not saying I have a specific look, but if someone like me is to talk about those kinds of things, I would hope that it would make other people feel like they can too.”
Although there is a great new wave of authentic music emerging out of New Zealand, more needs to be done. With Ivy Red believing New Zealand needs to start diversifying its sound and be more accepting of different styles of music, offering encouragement and support to those just beginning to learn their craft.
“I guess a big thing is learning to be accepting, and learning to judge someone’s art for where they’ve come from. For example, when you see a kid who’s recorded a song on SoundCloud and he’s put it up, it might sound a lot different to all the other songs on the radio. It might be hard to listen to, but coming from another perspective if you hear it through their ears it’s different, and not literally a thing you can do.”
Reflecting on his own experiences beginning to make music in New Zealand, the versatile artist believes there has been a lot of positive developments beginning to emerge. “It’s been interesting because I’ve kind of watched everything change. I guess in a way when I first entered the scene a couple of years ago everything was very cliquey.”
With other artists supporting each other and beginning to collaborate, the culture has started to become a lot more inclusive.
Talking about Somber, Ivy Red says, “Over anyone’s he’s probably the person I’ve known in the scene for the longest and he’s a good testament to what the scenes like. It’s very welcoming and opening, and everyone is keen to help someone that is kind of lost in the early stages. The help is there to get over those first few things, and take that first step you didn’t know you needed to take. I feel like it’s a really positive thing that everyone helps each other. I think I’m more involved in the scene now which is really cool.”
With the growing power of online streaming, the ability to reach a global audience is more possible than ever and the limitations of location start to become irrelevant, with many New Zealand-based artists drawing upon their upbringing and beginning to build worldwide audiences.
“Living in New Zealand can be a limitation if you let it. You can look at being from New Zealand like you’re from one of the smallest countries in the world, or you can look at it like you’re from one of the most beautiful and unique countries in the world.”
With global recognition comes the ability to grow as an artist, pushing beyond what might be considered a ceiling in New Zealand. But plays don’t mean everything, and there is always more needing to be done to capture a fanbase.
“Last year my debut single Absent was put on three playlists with about 100,000 – 200,000 followers. I watched that song get 10 to 15 thousand plays every week for months. It was really weird to me, but I was very grateful. I guess initially I saw Spotify plays as something that it wasn’t, but now that I have them it’s cool to have context of what it actually is. It gives you space to give yourself much bigger goals.”
With the success of his recent songs, Ivy Red has no plans on slowing down, with a collaborative EP in the works with NZ heavy hitter LMC titled ‘Lover?’.
“Me and LMC have been working together for nearly three years now and we’ve always been in talks of an EP, so I guess it’s been in works for 2-3 years. We’ve done the bulk of the work in the last half year. I’ve just finished recording all the demos and we’re taking the EP to a studio to record. That’s not looking too far off. We will be ready to start putting some release plans out soon which I’m really excited for.”
‘Lover?’ looks to explore romance and intimacy, with Ivy Red explaining that to make the EP he had to learn to love himself again. “The project is about learning to, and coming to a place in your life where you have no choice but to try and love yourself. When I started writing the EP, I told myself that by the time that I got to the end of writing, I would of learned how to love myself again. Now that it’s finished I have, and it’s scary.”
With another EP, produced by Dozy Doe, which is described as a complete contrast of ‘Lover?’ planned for this year as well, there is a lot to be excited for in 2019 for Ivy Red.
Check out his recent release ‘love hurts when you hold on too tight’ below.