Introducing The Dame
An interview with our new favorite artist, Ivy Levan
by Lauren Hurt | Photography by Katie Basil
Ivy Levan is a lady of many talents including recording artist, model, and fashionista. She has recently made a splash on the music scene with her EP Introducing the Dame
, which was released by Cherrytree/Interscope Records. In addition to her powerhouse voice, she possesses a truly unique personal style that is retro, yet fresh. She is beautiful; tall, blonde, porcelain- skinned, and dresses head to toe in black save for her bright red lips. We had the chance to sit down with Ivy at the Hard Rock Hotel to talk about being southern, making it in Hollywood, and where she finds her inspiration.
Your sound has been described as swamp hop. What does that mean?
Well Iím from the south, and obviously there are swamps in the South. Tons of nature and yummy things like that. Itís about the texture and the story that it paints .Its very raw, dirty, and eerie and a lot of that is in the music. And with hop, thatís obviously hip hop and that whole groovy vibe. Itís a mix of both worlds.
Where in the south did you grow up?
Bentonville, Arkansas. The home of Walmart.
What influenced your sound?
My southern roots didnít influence me until recently actually. I tried really hard not to embrace my southern-ness when I first moved to LA. I was very rebellious and I cut all my hair off and dyed it black and I wanted to be someone totally different from where I came from. I was into goth music and stuff you donít do in the south. Kind of a female Nine Inch Nails. I went back and forth trying to find out who I was and this EP is 110% me, really embracing my roots. Why fix it if it ainít broke?
What was it like for you when you left home and moved to LA to pursue a singing career?
I was so happy. I couldnít wait. I was a bright-eyed dumb ass. I didnít have a clue. I was stepped on and it made me a hard ass. I came in just dumb, I didnít have a clue
Letís talk about style. How would you describe your look?
I love Tina Turner and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Also, Iím not a fan of colors. I remember modeling and just hating color. They would put me in girl next- door stuff and bright blue. The only think I like is color on the lips, of course. I also love heels. I donít wear anything less than 5.5 inches, itís 5.5 and up!
Your makeup is gorgeous, do you do it yourself?
I canít have other people touching my face. Iím a controlling person. Iím a painter as well, just a crazy artist. I have this big dumb head, Iím a canvas for days.
Whatís the craziest outfit youíve worn?
I wore this jacket by The Blonds that has actual butcher knives all over it. Itís insane looking. It looks like a straight jacket. We also have a fried egg thatís bedazzled that we put in my hair.
You recently toured with Fitz and the Tantrums. What was that like?
It was fun. It was definitely an experience. You have to win the audience over since people havenít heard you before. Youíre up there and itís crickets or youíre tearing the house down. SO it was definitely nice to see that people were embracing it for sure and more so than what I thought. It felt like, ďokay Iím doing something right. ď The first song, people are like what the f is that. My band comes out with executioner masks on and then they see me come out like ď hello fabulous!Ē and I sing and then people say, ďokay, okayÖĒ
Whatís your favorite song on the EP?
Thatís like asking whoís your favorite child. My favorite to sing is ďMoneyĒ. The most fun as far as crowd participation is ďHang ForeverĒ because people can really relate to that. People always mosh to ďHot DamnĒ.
The video for ďHot DamnĒ is awesome! What is the creative process like for your music videos?
It was pretty much my taste. Iím into black and white and horror films and that sort of visual aesthetic. Iím also into comic books and I wanted to portray that comedic value. Iím a huge fan of Lucille Ball, I really relate to her. I put every element thatís in my character into the videos. I talked to the director and everyone else on board, they loved it and everyone put in their ingredients and ideas and we just compiled it all together. It is so much fun making the videos because theyíre all my best friends and we are just cracking up and laughing until 4 in the morning.