Ivy Levan: Queen of Swamp-Hop

August 19, 2013 2:29 PM

TWELV recently had the opportunity to chat with up-and-coming singer/songwriter Ivy Levan, who just released her debut EP, “Introducing the Dame,” on Cherry Tree/Interscope records. The four-song EP does precisely what it sets out to do: Introduce a lifetime of singing exemplified in 26-year-old Levan’s powerful and punchy voice, a  world around her trying to mold her into something else, and a radical and effectual refusal to conform, found in her wonderfully unique musical direction and vintage femme-fatale look.

How are you?

I’m great. Just slapping on my face for the rest of the day. 

That’s great!  Before we start the interview, I just want to make sure I have the pronunciation of your last name correctly. Is it Le-Van? Lev-an? Le-Von?

It’s Le-Von.

You just released your debut EP, INTRODUCING THE DAME, on Cherry Tree/Interscope Records, and have a very unique sound and style—is that something that you stumbled upon, or was it your plan?

My style and sound is based off of my roots and where I was raised, [I was raised in the south] my background, and my bloodline—my daddy is a rockabilly singer. I always kind of fought my roots and who I really was. I was just against the whole twangy or soul sound, and I wanted to be a darker, more serious artist, so really, it was just me embracing who I am.

You define your music as “swamp hop.” Where does that name come from?

What do you think about when you hear the word swamp? You think of raw texture: dark and eerie, and there’s a lot of realness and rawness to it. That’s what’s in the music as well. We kind of painted that same picture.

I’d like to talk a bit more about the recording process. Why did you decide to go with an EP as your debut release instead of a full-length record? Is that a way of easing you into the public’s eye?

Exactly, it’s an introduction. More of a “Hey, this is who I am” rather than, “Hey, look how cool I am.” It’s a chance for people to either fuckin’ like it, or not like it. Take it or leave it, whatever, but this is what I am as an artist. You don’t want to get married the first day. You wanna take them out, wine and dine them.

It kind of echoes the name “Introducing the Dame.”

Exactly!

You’ve introduced a series of music videos to accompany three of the four songs, “Hot Damn,” “Money,” and “I Don’t Wanna Wake Up”. Was this to give people a visual introduction as well?

I wanted to make sure that this world was created around the project, that each song has a different look. The three videos are actually a trilogy, and together, they can create a story. 

Alright, I guess finishing up, you just did a tour with FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS. What’s next?

Well, right now I’m shooting in Chicago, and I’m going to do the VH1 Rules Party for the Lollapalooza Festival, so that’s the next thing. After this, I think there’s going to be an album coming up, so I hope to get back into the studio and start working.

Interview By: J.P. Basileo

 

 

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