Power house vocalist Ivy Levan released her debut this month and she is poised to take over the music world.
Growing up in Arkansas forced the young singer to become a rebel forming her into the artist she is today. The singer has impressed her gay following with the catchy “Biscuit” song that the performed at Roscoe’s last month. That strong single fits in well with collaborations between her and the legendary Sting as well as remixer Diplo and Tomo Milicevic of 30 Seconds to Mars on the new album No Good.
We talked to her at the House of Blues in Chicago after her performance recently.
JN: (Jerry Nunn) So you were born in Oklahoma?
Ivy Levan: I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I have a lot family there. I was raised in Arkansas. That is my mom’s hometown. My dad is from Tulsa. Now I live in LA.
JN: You are a big city girl now.
IL: Yes and living the dream!
JN: Does your accent come out around your family?
IL: Oh it comes out on other occasions too.
JN: After drinking?
IL: If I’m pissed off or tired.
JN: Is your “Biscuit” song from your southern upbringing?
IL: It is. That is where it comes from. A lot of people don’t know that and I have to give the whole dictionary explaining it. My mom used to say, “Well, kiss my biscuits!”
JN: Like “Kiss my grits!” Did you come up with the video treatment?
IL: I had this wacky idea of creating a biscuit like Frankenstein with him coming out of the pot and being alive. People thought I was out of my mind. I wanted him to dance around with his googly eyes. It happened and we just went with it. Once it is born then I take on the persona of not taking any shit, fuck all the haters, and kiss my biscuit.
JN: What music did you listen to growing up?
IL: It was a mix from Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Sting, Rod Stewart, Chaka Khan. My mom had a wide variety of legendary voices in her collection. She was into gritty, strong voices with powerful women as a thing. As a teenager I was more into post punk with Sister of Mercy, Depeche Mode, and Nine Inch Nails. So my taste was a blend of that. It is very interesting.
JN: Where does your fashion sense come from?
IL: This ticker right here! [points to her head] I was thrown into the modeling business when I was younger so that made me catch onto fashion. I am goofy and like darker, edgier, sexy things.
JN: You have a lot of different looks.
IL: Yeah, and I am also very bored all the time so I think about what I will wear next.
JN: You did all of the different colored hair with your looks.
IL: I did all of them. The video is a nod to all of my different phases in life. I have had the black hair with the bangs, the red and blonde hair so there are three of me. The past has gained this confidence. It is so deep and I am so happy with this video.
JN: I see some goth in your look.
IL: That is there too. I was a rebel. I wanted to move to a big city and forget my past. I went super hardcore and cut my hair off, dyed it black. I discovered who I was and was into the goth scene. It is still a part of me and it is in there, the darkness [laughs]!
JN: Did you always want to be a singer?
IL: Yes. I came out of the womb singing. That is my first love and passion. Everything else was to pay the bills. The music business is the hardest business. Modeling is if you have a face and are skinny you can make a buck.
JN: I saw you were in a movie called Drop Dead Gorgeous.
IL: Oh yeah, acting too. Anything I can get my hands creatively and express myself I love doing.
JN: Are you ready for your album to come out?
IL: It’s like being pregnant. I have been pregnant for two years with this watermelon and I want to get it out!
JN: How did you wind up working with Diplo on “27”?
IL: He Twitter stalked me. He hit me up on Twitter and asked me to do this song. I went and hung out with him at the studio. We had a connection. I fell in love with a track he was working on. I started singing over it and that is how it happened.
JN: Sometimes he overpowers songs with his beats but not on that song.
IL: It was originally something else he was working on. He knew that song was for me. Now it is mine!
JN: How did the team up with Sting on “Killing You” happen?
IL: Sting is on the same label that I am on, Cherrytree Records. We were doing a Cherrytree House event in Santa Monica. He was performing there and I wanted to meet him. We instantly got along. He said he is a fan of my music so rainbows and unicorns were coming out of my face! One thing led to another we worked on the song “Killing You” together for my new album.
JN: You have a song on the SPY movie called “Who Can You Trust.” Have you seen the movie?
IL: Like a thousand times. It is funny and so great in the way that it is like comedy and action. That is really hard to do. When is the last movie that you have seen like that? Paul Fieg is a genius. He is a friend of mine too. I just keep collecting all of these awesome people.
JN: You got to meet Melissa McCarthy.
IL: I did and she’s a hoot. It was a dream job experience. I idolized Shirley Bassey so I took the Bond sound and ran with it.
JN: You have the pipes. You performed at LA Pride recently so where does your connection with gay fans come from?
IL: It is a part of my life. I am the B in LGBT so I live it! I do have a lot of gay friends also.
JN: So you have dipped in the lady pond?
IL: Yes, I have dabbled in everything. I don’t limit myself!
JN: Roscoe’s will be fun later tonight.
IL: I love it. I was there two years ago and it was a blast then. Now people know the music so it will be insanity.
JN: You tweeted about marriage equality recently.
IL: I got a little teary eyed.
JN: Are you working on a solo tour?
IL: No, I am just finishing out this tour then the record comes out. I will be doing some morning shows. There will be a lot of promoting and getting it to as many ears as possible. Hopefully I can jump on a tour after that. We will see how responses are and maybe I will get my own tour. You never know. Tell people to get my record. Help me, I’m poor!
JN: What do you want people to know about you that they don’t?
IL: That all the music and stories you hear are real. They are experiences that I have experienced. I hope everyone can relate to it because that is why I did it and am still doing it. I want to connect to them. It selfishly makes me really happy. It tickles my pickle!
Kiss her “Biscuit” at www.ivylevan.com.