Beyond the Record
Music news, album reviews & interviews
Beyond the Record: Welcome! Tell our readers a little bit about who you are, where you're from, and a little bit about your music.
Ivy Blue: Hi there and good morning from Te Aroha, New Zealand. The sun is shining and there’s no rainclouds in sight
My name is James Brodie (although I perform under the name Ivy Blue). It started out as a band with my best mate and when he couldn’t do it anymore things got tricky trying to get a band together and keep it together so right now it’s just me and my loop pedal (think of it like Ed Sheeran except not as good looking).
As far as the music goes- music is music. There’s no real rules as to things I won’t do as really, genre is just a word on a piece of paper as far as I’m concerned.
BtR: And before we get too far into your music, let's talk a little bit about your personal life. You claim to be a political activist. Besides your music, who are you really? What do you stand for?
IB: I have been known to dabble in political avenues alongside and stand up for things I believe in such as human rights, disability rights, anti-bullying, the arts, and this list could go on; but ultimately what I really am beyond the record and beyond that is just another human being. There are things that I feel strongly about and when there’s something that just isn’t right on any standards then I will have something to say about it. And in a way people have power, but with that comes the responsibility to make change in their own way. No one person can save the world, but one person can help change the neighborhood they live in or make a change in the community. And then the little things start to add up and eventually all the little changes we have made will create a path to get to the bigger things that we want to get to. And all of this will be worth it in the end because we have created a world which our little brothers and sisters, the children of tomorrow, and even ourselves can be proud of living in. Seems like a rant but that’s just my take on it.
BtR: Take us through some of the people who inspire you to create music and keep going. Who inspired you to start your career in music?
IB: Inspiration is a tricky thing. I get inspired by a lot of artists and many different styles (Radiohead, Robbie Williams, U2, Paramore, REM, Deathnir, The Latest Fallout, and Queen are high-up in my list), so it’s hard to pin any musical inspiration on any one thing as Ivy Blue’s music is always evolving. My biggest inspirations and things that I write about though are things like identity, observations, politics, faith, history, belonging, and life really (yeah… I was never great at writing love songs although I’m sort of good at taking the idea of love in a new direction.
BtR: What are your plans for the near future in regards to touring?
IB: This year I’m doing a few shows in Europe, New Zealand, and hopefully others. The Present Shapes era will not be very long and I’m already getting back to work on new music in between rehearsals so if nothing goes absolutely wrong I would expect a new album by year’s end. For now though the tour is of priority and I want it to be the best tour it can be musically and visually. More will come out in good time.
BtR: Every artist has a story behind them. Take us through the lowest of low moments in your career and explain how you overcame them.
IB: Well…. That’s probably the most difficult thing so far in this interview. There are so many things I could say here…. There have been a couple of really low points within doing Ivy Blue. One of which was the first break-up I ever had in my life with a girl and that was the most heart-wrenching thing. I didn’t know quite how to carry on- and then I started playing this song on a guitar and Forever December came around. That freed me from it in a way as I didn’t have to worry about what’s next and what’s tomorrow. I could just get back to life and that was amazing. The other one was not so long ago, but I’ll open that can of worms when I’m ready and if I’m ever ready.
BtR: Which of your songs best depicts your struggles as an artist?
IB: I think that to really depict the struggles of a song you have to really listen in. Reveal has a couple of things in there about not letting go when you’re on the border of losing control (You, Invisible, and Always are good tracks of that album here)- but then you go to the new album Present Shapes; it still has it’s fair amount of struggle but instead of being on the border, it’s more of an acceptance that the struggle exists and it’s OK to have that struggle and it’s also OK to leave that struggle behind (Codera really sums that up)- so in a way struggles have always been in Ivy Blue’s music since album 1; but it’s evolved into something where it’s in a more peaceful place than where it started. I like that.
BtR: On the flipside, what are some of your greatest successes as an artist?
IB: I think that the biggest successes of Ivy Blue’s discography is the songs that became really big, and they were written when there was no hit intended. That’s the thing with songs like Forever December, Ballad Of Lover’s Flight, Strangers In The Night, Sister Mercy, and many many others that have become hits and successes in their own right and when I listen back to Ivy Blue’s songs and know that they have made a difference in someone’s life- that’s what success is to me.
BtR: Elaborate on some of the meanings behind your songs if you could!
IB: One of the songs you mentioned in the messages leading up to the chat was Strangers In The Night. That has a good story behind it (for those that need specifics- it’s track 1 from the fourth album 19). It was written about me going to Hamilton for the first time as a university student not really knowing what to expect or how to exist as a adult in this new world that I just couldn’t have understood initially no matter how much you prepared me. But then I realized something half-way through the first day. None of us had any clue what we were doing and we were just as strange (if not stranger) than each other as we were dancing in the daytime at O Week at Waikato University. Don’t remember how the night part comes into it but it adds a nice flavor. This seems to be one of the most popular songs that Ivy Blue has but amazingly it’s never been done live. I’m sure I’ll get around to fixing that at some point on this tour. Time will tell.
BtR: If you had the opportunity to change the music industry as we know it, what would you change and why?
IB: To me the answer lies in the question. There are no opportunities right now for musicians that are just starting out to get anywhere; yet music is more popular now than it ever has been. That seems just a little bit unusual for me. Especially when there is so much talent out there that does go largely un-noticed in comparison to those who have been doing it a long time or are so high up that everybody pays attention no matter what they are doing. So what would I change? I’d level the playing field out so that all musicians have an equal shot at being successful as a musician and getting to live their dreams that don’t have to be in the pipe.
BtR: Any plans for the future regarding a new release? Where can fans find your music?
IB: I’ll answer the second one. The music that I have released can be found on the ivy Blue website (https://ivybluebandnz.wix.com/ivyblueonline) or on any major digital store or streaming network. As for new music as I was saying earlier I’m working on bits and pieces in between rehearsals for the tour so if nothing goes pear-shaped then the new album should be finished by mid-year. It won’t be released until after the tour so lines don’t get confused- but there will certainly be a new album out by year’s end.