Alice Ivy has one of those unique sounds that immediately captures attention. The Melbourne-based producer creates tracks of the electro-soul variety that, in the past 18 months, have seen her cultivate a strong cult following and allowed her to tour the UK, Europe, USA, and South East Asia. With a debut album set to drop next year, her 2017 is looking just as good.
You were originally in a 25-piece soul band before becoming a producer, what was that adjustment like?
It was pretty hard transitioning from the band, especially a big band… because I was just so used to being in the background. But now I’m the sole centre of attention on stage, I’ve got the final say in everything, I write all the music – whereas before it was always a collaborative thing.
So how did you actually start producing?
I was kind of thrown into the deep end with Ableton at university. We were given an assignment to remix something – that forced me to learn it and I realised it was amazing. After one of the classes, one of my lecturers showed us all this J Dilla stuff and how beatmaking was done years ago. I walked away from the class feeling really excited because I realised that it was just a way of making the soul music that I love, but making it all yourself. In saying that though I still love working with other people, I still love jumping into the studio, especially on the last single with RaRa on ‘Almost Here’. It was a really great process.
It must help to play multiple instruments.
Yeah I play guitar, drums, keys—everything in my tracks I’ve pretty much done myself except for the horn lines, the radio broadcasts or any of the obvious samples. But in terms of all the instrumentation, I do it all at home in the studio.
How does that change the writing process? It must take a lot more time.
It honestly does. The way I do it is I’ll find a sample that I really love and then I just write a total piece around it—so I get the best of both worlds. It’s challenging because you are restricted to the key of the sample, the tone of the sample, the rhythm of the sample but I really like that because it gives me something to work towards and I know what I’m working with.
Your music spans across a few different styles and you’re working on an album at the moment, is it tough to create something cohesive?
I’m really influenced by artists like The Avalanches. If you listen to their albums, in particular their first one, the music just flows from track to track and they’ve got hip-hop, some down-tempo stuff and some total instrumentation stuff. That album takes you on a massive journey. I want to create that and that’s what I’m working on at the moment – making sure that it flows really nicely. I want the listener to be able to experience it as a whole piece rather than just single tracks. I think you can hear it in my live sets because the music doesn’t stop, it just keeps moving. I feel like that’s just the way my music is.
What inspired you to start field recording?
I was kind of inspired by artists like Bonobo who do that a lot in their music … It’s just like another instrument.
And you’ve performed overseas quite a bit in the last 18 months, how has that been?
Well first of all it’s hard, I mean I just went over there as a no-name and it kind of puts you back at square one. You know once you start building a bit of momentum over here [Australia] you kind of get used to people showing up. But then you just go over to a city where you don’t know anyone and it’s hard to tell if people are going to get on board with you or not. It was interesting because I just sort of threw myself into the deep end, last year especially but I kind of just wanted to do it for the experience. I set up all the shows with the help of my guitarist at the time and we just did everything ourselves – we didn’t get a publicist, we didn’t get a booker and we didn’t have management or anything like that, but it turned out really well. We played some great shows and some shit shows. It was a great learning experience.
This feature originally appeared in the December issue of Limit’d.