band crush: ivy levan

meet the woman behind swamp-hop

Ever since Ivy Levan burst onto the music scene, a cascade of hype has swirled around the singer. Yahoo! Music screamed It Girl, she topped Billboard's Next Big Sound list, MTV was obsessed, and it was easy to see why. Besides the obvious genetic-lottery good looks—Levan is a former model—she had the vocals to back them up. Her breakout single, the kiss-off anthem "Biscuit," showcased smoky power vocals that immediately recall Christina Aguilera, and the trippy, pop-art video introduced us to a charismatic performer with pop star bona fides.

Levan, who grew up in Arkansas and moved to L.A. after getting erroneously kicked out of high school, is still working on her debut record which will be filled with what she's coined as "swamp-hop." Here, we get to know her a little better. 

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I’ve always said I’m like the love child of Morticia Addams and Lucille Ball. A walking dark comedy. I'm the evil villain in a Disney movie who’s dressed by Theirry Mugler and possibly a rubber chicken for a handbag. If I had my way I’d also be kicking ass in Tomb Raider on casual days. 

Where do you hope to be professionally in 5 years?

The cliché answer would be “Making music that others can relate to. That’s what I love!” But Imma be straight. I absolutely want that cliché answer to come true but I want to shake this pop world up a bit. I feel like it needs some life pumped into it. I want to be the trailblazer for other artists and music lovers as well. My message being, it's okay to be silly and weird. You don’t have to conform to normal standards. You can be vulnerable and still have a sense of humor about things. Like the Joker would say, “Why so serious?”

What’s your next project?

Right now my main and only focus is to get my single “BISCUIT” to as many ears as possible. I have to make sure that all the people out there who deal with haters in their lives have a theme song and can embrace the “kiss my biscuit” attitude.

What are you most proud of so far in terms of your career?

I’m extremely proud of the fact that I stuck in there and found the perfect team/family. I’m also very proud that I get to call this making music stuff a job. Not only do I get to live out my passion, but it has led to me to work with other incredible artist such as Sting, Diplo, and Adam Lambert. 

What is your favorite driving music?

It all depends on the destination and energy level I need to be upon arrival to said destination. If I’m going to meetings it's typically new wave, '80s, '90s, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie and the Banshees, or Duran Duran on repeat. If it’s time to go break my back at the club I got my high school throwback jams blasting like Missy Elliot, Wu Tang, Mystikal, Salt n Peppa, or En Vogue. If it’s the drive over to my besties to sip fancy cocktails while talking shit in our PJs, I got some Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, and Tom Waits going.

What activities do most enjoy doing alone?

NETFLIX IS MY LIFE! I just finished every season of Friends and I didn’t realize how much I relate to the stories. Now that I’m an adult it all makes sense! I really enjoy reading about astrology and witchcraft online too. Kind of obsessed.

How do you wind down before bed?

I don’t. I’m a night owl, an insomniac’s poster child. I usually just pass out around 3am. When I have to get up early in the morning, I’ll try to drink sleepy time tea and use relaxing oils to get me to settle the fuck down. Usually it’s a struggle. Sometimes I can trick myself into thinking sleeping is fun. 

What kind of person were you in high school?

I was the outcast, nerd, flat-chested bean pole before high school. I wore parachute pants and lots of weird black t shirts paired with silver lipstick. I decided that I wanted to become super popular the summer before my freshman year. I highlighted my hair, wore padded bras, and joined the cheerleading squad. I knew that If I did that, I could get away with being a little trouble maker. I was bullied a lot by jealous basic girls, but I always was nice to everyone. My mom taught me to kill them with kindness but never let anyone step on you. I didn’t take shit from anyone so it got me in a lot of fights and eventually got me kicked out of high school during the end of my Junior year. One of those nasty jealous girls made up a story saying I was selling drugs. I had cough syrup in my bag that day, so being in a small town of course they mad a mountain out of an ant hill. They made me into an example but it just gave me the fire and boost I needed to move to LA….. BYE FELICIA! 

Do you have any phobias?

Actually yes I do. It’s called Trypophobia and it's a fear of clusters and nasty shit like that. Google it because just talking about it makes me want to rip my skin off. I also freak the fuck out while taking off on planes. How the hell is this metal tube full of flesh sacks doing this flying stuff? 

How do you hope to grow as a creative person?

I hope that I can continue just evolving organically as an artist and not force it. I want to thrive off change and conquer its obstacles. I love exploring new mediums or sounds. I got to have a challenge or I’m just bored. So hopefully I can keep challenging myself and grow from that.