THIS interview finds me talking with Ivy Mairi…
about her latest song, Strange Love, and what its background is. I learn what we can expect from her upcoming E.P., Polarity, and what else she has coming up; if there are particular albums that mean a lot to her and which approaching artist we need to look out for.
The songwriter tells me about her musical progression and why Pop appeals to her; if there are tour dates coming up and if she has any words of advice for new musicians – she selects a great song to end the interview with.
Hi, Ivy. How are you? How has your week been?
It’s been a good one. I’ve been enjoying all the lovely words coming in about Strange Love - it’s always a good feeling to put out new music.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a singer and songwriter based in Toronto, Canada. Born and raised here, too. I’ve been singing professionally for ten years as a Folk singer and a backup singer in Indie-Rock bands but this is my first real dive into Pop music. Feels good so far!
Is there a story behind your latest track, Strange Love? How did it come to life?
Songs tend to come to me in pieces - and once the foundational piece is there, the rest gets built around it. The chorus to Strange Love came to me during a bike ride (I ride my bike everywhere and use the idle time to tinker with songs in my head!). I thought it was a great hook but that it was way too Pop for me, so it seemed like something I should pitch to someone else to sing. But, as the song came together, I just liked it so much that I decided I had to sing it myself.
Your forthcoming E.P., Polarity, sounds exciting. What might we expect in terms of themes and song ideas?
I am very excited to share the full E.P. It is a collection of five songs that explore the highs and lows of love and personal growth - and getting older and seeing life as the complex thing that it is. Over the period that I wrote these songs, I went through some really incredible times and also some very hard ones. The songs reflect both.
Do you recall your earliest musical memory? Which artist or song first struck your mind?
I have many early musical memories. My mother is a musician and was always playing instruments and singing with me and my sister. As a kid, I was fairly Type-A and I was really good at memorizing song lyrics - it used to annoy me when my friends and I would try to re-enact a Spice Girls or Alanis Morrisette music video at school and I would be the only one who actually knew the lyrics. I taught myself how to harmonize in middle-school by singing along with the radio and just harmonizing every note.
It seems Pop music and the freedom it offers is important. Would that be fair to say?
I think Pop music is free in the sense that it allows people to be unabashedly enthusiastic or sassy - to take up space and be yourself, unapologetically. As a songwriter, though, I enjoy the constraints of Pop music as opposed to the freedom. Pop song-forms are very specific - and writing a good Pop song is all about figuring out ways that you can make your song weird and different, while still working within the Pop boundaries.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
To build some good momentum in the lead-up to the release of Polarity in early-2019. And to put together an amazing live show to celebrate the release.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
There are so many; it would be hard to pick. Mostly, I am just grateful for all the amazing people I’ve been able to collaborate with over the years. One of the best things about making music is getting to create and have fun with people you love and respect.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
I’ve never been much for having ‘favourites’ when it comes to music - there is always so much to discover and also so much to return to. That being said, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a very important album for me as a young person. It is such an amazing mix of styles and such a singular piece. The last couple of years, I have really connected with Hejira by Joni Mitchell as well. It gives a beautiful look into the mind of a woman entering her thirties. And, in terms of Pop music that I love right now, I am a huge fan of Charli XCX.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
It takes a long time to find your voice and get your chops! I am always learning new things by exploring other music and watching other singers - I am always working to get better. Also, just being out in the world and in your community of peers is so important - a chance run-in can lead to a meaningful collaboration or an important opportunity.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
I am planning a big release show for my E.P. in Toronto in the New Year. Until then, I’m laying low!
IN THIS PHOTO: IDER/PHOTO CREDIT: Lottie Turner
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
They are definitely already on the rise but I love the new music that IDER is putting out. I’m excited to hear what comes next from them.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I love time spent in nature. I go out on canoe trips and hikes; long bike rides. I love the movement through each Canadian season.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
The song Messages (Garden Edition) by my good friend Isla Craig has been buoying me up during moments of doubt the last little while. That’s my choice!
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