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Alice Ivy: From Dilla to Don’t Sleep.

Alice Ivy reflects on the versatility of being a producer, keeping one foot in hip-hop and finding money in Beyoncé's jacket.

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Melbourne’s Alice Ivy is a producer and songwriter who works with feature artists across a variety of genres, frequently collaborating with hip-hop artists and RnB vocalists. A quick glance at the tracklist from her new album Don’t Sleep points to the notion that not only is Alice creating some really inspired music, but she’s also committed to working with a diverse roster of feature artists from all over the world.

The album’s title track ‘Don’t Sleep’ features Sydney MC and beat poet imbi (FKA imbi the girl). ‘Sunrise’ sees Alice Ivy team with veteran Toronto rapper Cadence Weapon. ‘Money’ has vocals from non-binary underground Toronto rapper Dijah SB and ‘All Hit Radio’ taps emerging London rapper Teef. Tracks like ‘My Turn’ are assisted by non-binary RnB/Soul singer from LA by the name of Swsh (seen here on Colors) and closer to home, ‘All In For You’ sees PNG-born, Sydney-based singer Ngaiire take on vocal duties.

To celebrate the release of Don’t Sleep, we caught up with Alice Ivy to get some insight on how the project came together, directly from the source:

“When I was in my early twenties, and beginning to dabble in electronic production after half a lifetime of playing the guitar, I discovered J Dilla’s monumental album Donuts. It was a major turning point for me. Once I was introduced to the world of sampling I was totally hooked. 

A lot of my early work featured heavy sampling and big beats and a few of my first collaborations were with emerging hip-hop artists in Melbourne like RaRa and Charlie Threads. One of my first live performances was opening for Remi in Melbourne and my first national tour was with Urthboy and Joyride, all around the country. When I’ve toured myself I’ve often invited artists more closely associated with the hip-hop world along with me, like Nasty Mars or Miss Blanks. It feels like I’ve always had one foot in the local hip-hop community despite some of my other music being more closely aligned with electronic pop or dance. 

Reflecting on some of my favourite producers; Kanye West, Kaytranada, Jamie XX, they’ve all contributed to changing what it means to be a ‘producer’. Kanye especially has been such a musical rule-breaker, constantly crossing and blending genres throughout his work. One of the things I love most about producing is that you don’t have to set yourself any boundaries. 

My new album Don’t Sleep provided me with the privilege and opportunity to work with some of my favourite vocalists of all-time. The first time I heard Ecca Vandal’s collaboration with Sampa The Great, ‘Your Orbit’ I was blown away. Getting Ecca to step back into a semi-R&B/pop space on ‘In My Mind’ was a real treat for me. Same goes for working with Sydney rapper and beat poet imbi (FKA imbi the girl) and Ngaiire whose criminally underrated albums Lamentations and Blastoma are some of the best local soulful R&B pop records going in my book. I also got the opportunity to mix this album partially in Los Angeles with Andrew Dawson whose produced and mixed records for Kanye, Childish Gambino, Tyler The Creator, Lil’ Wayne… his resumé is wild. 

When it came time to shoot the promo photos for the album I’d planned this big meet-up in Sydney with most of the collaborators and we were going to pose together for a group photo. My photographer, Michelle G Hunder and I were referencing Solange Knowles’ wedding photos for inspiration. But when the pandemic turned up that idea went out the window so I switched it out for me on my lonesome in a warehouse with a bunch of lifesize cardboard cut-outs. My legendary stylist Karinda Mutabazi got me this epic white jacket on loan from Strateas Carlucci and while we were shooting I found a handful of US dollars in one of the pockets. When Karinda mentioned it to the designer they said the last time that jacket went out on loan was for a shoot with Beyoncé…  Is that good omen or what?”

Follow Alice Ivy here for more, and stream her new album ‘Don’t Sleep’ below.

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