GENUINE spirit and personality are not as common as…
one would imagine. Music has its fair share of fakes and posers: finding an artist that is The Real Deal is a very pleasant surprise. Ivy Mode is a twenty-one-year-old singer inspired by the likes of Chet Faker, James Blake and Flume – providing hard-hitting music with emotional undercurrents. Based in Belgium, she has appeared on the country’s version of The Voice – where she released a cover of Jeff Buckley’s Everybody Here Wants You – and found her way to the attentions of W!G Music. Money Can’t Buy is her new single and signals good times ahead. I ask her about the song and the music scene in Belgium; whether modern music is defined by a lack of fun and how her heritage – she has Filipino roots – has influenced her as a musician and woman.
Hi Ivy. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi. My week has been pretty fun so far. It was the release of my first debut single so I was really excited about sharing it with the world - and I was also excited about what the reactions would be. But I'm happy with all the responses I got!
For those fresh to your music: can you introduce yourself, please?
My name IVY MODE. I’m a twenty-one-year-old singer living in Antwerp. My passions are music and fashion hence the name ‘MODE’ which is the Dutch translation for ‘fashion’. The music I make is Indie-Electronic Pop. I try to make music with an edge but also try to make it catchy.
Money Can’t Buy is your debut single. What compelled you to come into music and release a song?
It’s always been my dream to become a singer. I always wanted to perform on stage and make my own music.
I’m just so happy and excited to be able to set it as my main goal now.
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Can you tell us what the song is about and the sort of themes explored?
It’s about putting your career first and neglecting a relationship. You put all your efforts into becoming as successful as you can, and during this process, you lose the one you love. When you get to that point of success you realise you have no one to share it with. You regret giving up this relationship and would do anything to get this back.
James Lowland is the single's producer. What was it like working with him?
It was really easy-going and fun! What I love about working with James is that he translates the music I try to describe in words and turns it into sounds. James listens to all types of music but when he works with an artist he really tries to have the same mindset as the artist he’s working with. This is really important to be happy with the result.
Your music is catchy, Indie-Pop and fun. Do you think too many modern musicians are too serious and lack necessary uplift and energy?
I think that a lot of musicians focus a bit too much on being extremely successful which makes it more serious because you have a goal in mind.
Yet, I believe that if you just make music you like and would like others to hear you’ll enjoy the process a lot more. I also believe it to be a more sincere way of making music.
You were a contestant on The Voice (Belgium) in 2013. What was the experience like and what was the reaction like from the judges when you performed?
I had a lot of positive reactions after my blind audition and even heard a lot of people saying I was one of the favourites to win. This, unfortunately, gave me a lot of stress because I felt too much pressure. I kind of forgot to enjoy the adventure. The Voice is for a singer who is used to only sing in the shower or when she’s alone at home.
Cover songs have been part of your repertoire until now. You have covered everyone from Ed Sheeran to Red Hot Chili Peppers. Is there a song/artist that has been especially meaningful to cover?
I think it would definitely be the cover I sang during my blind audition. It was the song A-Team by Ed Sheeran. It’s just the feeling I get every time I hear it: it reminds me of those days. It was the first time I actually shared my voice with a larger group of people. I felt extremely fragile about the responses I’d get. That’s why this cover is very meaningful to me.
There are not many Belgian artists making their voices heard – or ascending to the attention of many British ears. How does the Belgian music scene differ to that over here?
The Belgian music scene is a lot smaller here in Belgium, I think. Even in Belgium, it’s hard to get heard.
So for me, as a Belgian artist, it’s difficult to dream bigger than the borders around Belgium. I think a lot of Belgians try to get heard, but it’s just a hard struggle to reach that goal.
Are there any Belgian artists we should be checking out?
Tsar B is a new female Belgian singer who’s doing really well outside of Belgium. She has a dark Electronic sound to her which is pretty cool. Also, I totally love Oscar and the Wolf - they are really popular here in Belgium and I love their unique sound and sense of fashion.
With your Filipino roots and Belgian upbringing: how influential were your parents and the music they played with regards your decision to take up music? What kind of artists did you hear growing up?
Well, my mom is from the Philippines and I’m pretty sure you already know (but) Asians loooooooove their karaoke. So, every gathering I’d go to where there were Filipinos there would be a karaoke machine and my mom would not stop nagging until I’d sing a song for everybody. So, singing was a part of my life from an early age.
I grew up listening to the typical hit songs sung by the best singers such as Celine Dion, Mariah Carey; Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson….
W!G Music is the label you are with. Do they allow you a lot of creative freedom or is there a sense of being directed to an extent? How much freedom of expression do you have?
What I love about W!G Music is that this label gives you all the freedom you want in making music. If they believe in you as an artist they support your music, vision and style. So, even if it’s a little weird or extraordinary who cares? It could be pretty cool as well!
A lot of artists are inspired by love and relationships when it comes writing songs. How important and relevant have past relationships and current love been with regards your songwriting?
Well. When you want to write a song about love it’s easier to describe it in a song when you’ve experienced love yourself.
Sure, you can get your inspiration from romantic movies but it’s different when you’ve experienced it yourself. So, for me, I get a lot of inspiration out of my previous relationships.
Looking into 2017: can we expect to see an E.P. or more singles perhaps?
We are currently planning to release my second single (probably in February), Body Next to You. Depending on how fast the writing process goes we hope to have an E.P. ready for the end of 2017. I’ve been working a lot in the studio to make new music so there is definitely more to come!
It would be great to see you perform in London soon. Are there plans to come play in the U.K.?
Yes. We are actually working on performing abroad as well but there’s no exact date yet - but we’ll definitely keep you posted!
Christmas is coming up. How will you be spending it and what is top of your present list?
I will be spending it with family just like every year.
I’m pretty sure this sounds corny but I just want to enjoy everybody’s company with a great meal (as a big plus).
It’s not easy getting a big family all together during the year so I’m happy it’s possible during Christmas. I don’t really have a list of presents I’d like to have but I’m a sucker for terrible funny gifts – like, for example, an ugly Christmas sweater or ugly socks or such.
Is there any advice you’d like to offer any upcoming musicians looking to follow in your footsteps?
Just to make music they love to perform and hear themselves.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can select any song you like (not yours as I’ll include that) and I’ll play it here.
I discovered a new song a couple of days ago and I must say I love the chorus a lot. Great sound - This Girl by Muto (Ft. M. Maggie)
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