ives has been on our radar for a little while now, with her two songs 'Calling Ur Phone' and '172' racking up thousands of plays across Soundcloud and Spotify. On debut single ‘Calling Ur Phone’ she declares, “I won’t try calling your phone,” and the equally as addictive follow-up ‘172’ saw her collaborate with fellow New Zealander Merk.
The Wellington-based artist embodies a DIY and independent work ethic - self-managed and unsigned to any record label, ives. has total control over her releases, all images, the videos, and everything else that accompanies her name. “I have to learn it myself, because I don’t have anybody else that can do it for me,” she told us - a task which could be considered daunting, but it’s this unique ethos that makes her accomplishments all the more exciting.
We caught up with ives. on a sunny Winter’s day in Auckland to talk about being an independent artist, her upcoming plans, and integrating dance and music together…
[ives. is wearing the new Converse One Star sneaker in all photos]
CDM: How would you style your own pair of Converse One Star sneakers?
IVES: With the One Stars I am really into wearing statement pants at the moment (also because it's Winter), which draws a lot of attention to your bottom half and the shoes. I love wearing funky socks, you can never go wrong with a good sock-pant combo - my favourites at the moment have a bunch of silver stars all over them. I have a pretty casual sense of style, overalls are definitely my way in Winter, and these Converse are perfect for that.
CDM: If the Converse One Star sneaker were a song, which would it be?
IVES: Converse One Stars are pretty 'gangsta' so I'm going to have to say ‘Wheelz Of Steel’ by Outkast, and because shoes are like wheelz for your body - they help you get around!
CDM: How do you integrate style and fashion into the overall concept of ives.?
IVES: ives. is all about creativity and expression - part of what I am passionate about is bringing all artistic outlets together, and combining them to create 'ives'. - I think that clothing can say so many things that words cannot, it is such an awesome medium for expression. ives.' fashion is not set at all and I have no doubt that it will develop and change alongside my music!
CDM: A lot of musicians branch out into collaborating or creating their own clothing lines. Could you ever see yourself collaborating with a designer, or on a clothing-line, or your own stage outfits?
IVES: I would absolutely love to collaborate and create my own fashion - I'm extremely inspired by my best friend who studies fashion and has the uncanny ability to create and pattern-make shapes and pieces off the top of her head, and she seriously has helped me to bring some of my visions to life and I would love to continue to work with her and others in the future for ives.'! I am also extremely into collaboration in general, I think that working with people across different art-forms is amazing for innovation and creativity.
CDM: You studied dancing in Sydney a while back. What type of dancing was it?
IVES: The course was everything - so we did jazz, hip-hop, ballet, tap; I’d never tapped before. People that are good at tap just have the most insane sense of rhythm, it’s so difficult to be able to use the parts of the feet that you have to, and get the rhythm, and still make sure that you look like you’re dancing, it’s crazy. Lots of crazy good tappers don’t even look like they’re dancers.
CDM: You used to teach dancing too - but you stopped when you moved to Wellington?
IVES: I moved down to Wellington in May. I was teaching at a school here, which I’d danced at when I was younger. The owner of the school is amazing, she’s created her own syllabi. If you want to work with somebody to teach dancing, hers is the place to do it. And she was just a bit over it, so she sold the school, she’d owned it for 19 years. It was sad because I really started to dislike teaching after that. It became a really uncomfortable environment. It’s not really a full-time job though, because you’ll have your days free, and work at night-time. So I stopped doing that, I wanted a change. I kind of thought, if I’m not happy here, then why don’t I go somewhere else that is not too far away, and cool? I used to live in Wellington, so I made a spur of the moment decision to book flights and move down there. I can still do my music there, all I need is my keyboard. I’ve actually felt so much more… I don’t know, a change of scenery can do so much. I was in a really bad head-space, I think I felt stuck here [in Auckland], and I don’t like feeling like I’m anywhere for too long. I’ve done lots of random jobs - I used to work at a golf course, I’ve worked at a homeware store, I’ve taught dancing, I used to work in a call centre. I’m doing lots of different stuff, and it’s cool to add to that. Being a musician, as much as $600 is cool when you get that from APRA, it’s not really enough.
CDM: At least you know about APRA! So many people don't know / don't know how to sign up.
IVES: Really?! I also use a digital distributor to get my stuff on Spotify and iTunes…
CDM: How did you find learning all that stuff?
IVES: Josh [Yong] knew heaps. Things like getting an ISRC [International Standard Recording Code] code, registers it as intellectual property - stuff like that, I didn’t know those things existed. Before I came back from Sydney, I didn’t really know… I wasn’t like, ‘Okay, I’m going to be a musician.’ I feel like some people go through school, everything they do had these steps that leads them into the job. They take certain subjects. I’m friends with Evan Sinton [Maala], and he was very-- he did go to university for a bit, but all his steps through school, he did Smokefree Rockquest, you could tell that he was going to be a musician one day. But I was never like that, it never crossed my mind as something that I could do.
CDM: I think a lot of people assume that to be a musician you have to tick all these things off a list - have a manager, find a record label - especially in New Zealand.
IVES: And especially in Auckland. The industry up here is so different. I’m learning as I go, and I think that’s one of the things that I really like about being so independent. I have to learn it myself, because I don’t have anybody else that can do it for me.
CDM: When lots of people get management, I feel like they don’t feel like they need to learn about all the stuff they’re doing.
IVES: Definitely. Especially if you want it to be something. I still obviously don’t know everything. The more you know, the more you realise that you don’t know so many things. I use TuneCore, which is a digital distributor. I get friends to do the artwork for my single covers, and I really like working with my friends on that. You have to be so involved because you don’t have anybody else to do stuff. I really love the process. My friend Izzy has just done the artwork for this next song - same thing as me, she took quite a while to figure out what she wanted to do. At school, she was good at everything. I think she was doing some crazy degree, worked for 3/4 years straight, and now she’s in Melbourne doing a design course. So it’s cool that I got to work with her on this. There’s something so cool about working with friends.
CDM: Do you want to keep living in New Zealand, or move overseas?
IVES: I think because I have had a taste of what it’s like to be somewhere else, I definitely want to venture a bit further away. I think with what I’m wanting to do, having that relationship with my movement as well - there isn’t a lot in the way of what I do. I still want to dance. In Wellington, there’s the New Zealand Dance Company, but if I just wanted to take a random class, there’s zero in New Zealand. I really want to go to London, and Berlin - Europe seems to be the place, people are really starting to make it there. I feel like I have so much to learn, and I think the way that I would learn best is if I were in a completely new environment. I’d love to be exposed to some different things. New Zealand is amazing, it’s just so small. With what I want to do with my dancing, and my music, labels here [in New Zealand], people just don’t understand the dance side of things. There isn’t really anybody else here doing that. For example, Young Turks have a bunch of artists that do movement stuff. I think Kiwis are a lot more band orientated.
CDM: Have you played live shows yet?
IVES: Not under ives. Not yet.
CDM: Are you gonna do some around the EP?
IVES: That’s the plan. Maybe even one before the EP. That’s the next thing I’m working on. I’ve been working on my live set, that’s what I’ve been focussing my time on. I’d love to do one in Wellington, and then come up to Auckland. Actually, performing is so rewarding. On Spotify, you can see all your plays - but it doesn’t really seem real if that makes sense. Whereas if you play a show, you can literally see the people listening - I can see you!
CDM: Do you know what your live set-up will be?
IVES: I think it’ll be me - vocals with a little bit of keys - and we’ll have a drummer. I’m not sure whether we’ll have an actual drum-kit or just a pad, because I obviously have all my samples and sounds for the songs, and they’re all downloaded onto a pad. And then probably just bass, there isn’t very much guitar in my songs, so I don’t think I’ll need that. So I think it’ll just be three people.
CDM: What can you tell us about your new song, and the whole EP?
IVES: I’m very aware of the fact that the turnover between each of my songs has been this giant gap. I’ve been sitting on this song for quite a while now. I have a bunch of other songs that are all lined up waiting, but I’m doing the video. I just love this song ['Fine'], I don’t want to hold onto it anymore - I’m so excited to release it. Each song is actually symbolic of that period in my life, and I’m nearly out of the period that I wrote that song in - it’s not quite as relevant to me now. That’s the main thing… you want to listen to people, and obviously people have these amazing distribution plans, and I get that, but for the position I’m in, when it comes down to it - I’m doing it for me. Nobody’s supporting me at a label or anything, so I can do what I want when I can.
CDM: It’s nice having that freedom.
IVES: It’s very liberating. When I decided, I was just in the shower like, ‘I’m going to do it!’ - I’m just going to release it next week.
The new Converse One Stars are available now online (click here to purchase) and at Converse St Luke’s, Converse Manukau, Converse Sylvia Park and selected retailers across the country.
Listen to ives’ new song ‘Fine’ below…