INTERVIEW: The Ivy on their debut full-length, “A Door Still Open”

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INTERVIEW: The Ivy on their debut full-length, “A Door Still Open”

(photo credit: Austin West)

In the past few weeks, as the music industry starts to shake off the holiday break dust, I’ve chatted with several acts, but a standout for sure was  Oklahoma’s The Ivy, Shawn Abari, and Wyatt Clem! The main topic of our conversation was of course the much anticipated debut album from the duo. Which hit the airwaves just this past Friday, with “A Door Still Open”. While tour dates haven’t been announced just yet for the band, the incredibly vibrant twelve tracks on the record are surely something that can’t be missed once the return to the road hits for the band!

In my chat with Abari and Clem, the duo talked about lots of things! From their trip to Mexico together to work out the bones for the album to the thought process behind their single release schedule for said album! It’s clear the band is only going to go up from here and is no stranger to the road! You can find our chat below!

NES: The new album comes out in about a month, but you’ve been steadily releasing these singles off the record. Maybe, to jump right into it, the album is so vibrant and varied, just from listening to it this morning. I know you put so much thought into the music videos and your visuals. How did you kind of plan the process of how you were going to start releasing these singles off the new record? 

Shawn Abari: I think, at least for the singles released, as the audio, initially, we had released Broad Shoulders and Tower of Terror, and we didn’t yet know where those two singles would belong. In terms of which project, and then once we decided we were going to do an album, I kind of felt like those fit the mood of the album as a whole. And I thought it added diversity to the album as well. So we kept those two songs, two singles on the album. And then moving forward, this past fall, whenever we released Good Faith, we kind of tried to release the songs that felt like they would appeal to the most people. Because as we were writing it, we were mixing it simultaneously. So we were kind of going with our gut-feeling songs as we were releasing it. So we started with Good Faith and Street Dog, then Be Like You. We thought those three singles had a good, diverse feel of the songs that were going to be portrayed on the album. 

Wyatt Clem: Yeah, I think with the single releases, we wanted to kind of showcase all the different flavors and styles that would be on the album. So it was like Good Faith and Street Dog; they were more in the same vein as each other. And then when we dropped Be Like You, it was like, woah, this is very different from anything that The Ivy’s done. So it was kind of fun just to tease some stuff. Cause yeah, there are a lot more of those different styles on the album. So I think people will really like it. Something for everybody, I think. 


NES: Yeah! And then I know, for this one, you have the three EPs you’ve already put out, with this being the first full length. You took a writing trip to Mexico and recorded a bit in a storage container. Is that something you’ve done in the past, the writing trip, or was it just kind of for this record that you wanted to do it? 

WC: Yeah, we’ve done a couple of writing trips before. But never, kind of like on our own volition. So this time around, it was kind of, let’s just make it the two of us. We’re not going to write with a producer or with a co-writer or anything like that. So it was fun to take a trip, just the two of us, with the sole purpose of widdling down which songs we wanted. We basically just had a handful of demos that we took down there. Every day, we’d spend a few hours on each one. 

SA: Get inspired for new songs, as well. 

WC: We had had the idea for a long time. Like we had been talking for the last couple of years about going to Wyoming or Vermont or somewhere just really recluse. But I had just gotten my passport in the mail, and I was like, no, I want to go somewhere tropical. Let’s go to Mexico. 

NES: Make use of that passport. 

WC: Hell yeah. 

NES: Then you said it was just the two of you down there. How did that help the process? Without having these outside voices of other producers or people down there with you helping you form it. 

SA:  I  think I was really excited about that trip personally because it was going to be an opportunity just for the two of us to hone in on the newfound inspiration that the trip would bring. While at the same time allowing us to just focus on what we wanted. Because a lot of times, in a song-writing room or session, it’s nice to come across the synergy of different songwriters. But sometimes, it will feel like, ah, that’s such a cool melody. But it’s not something I would have come up with. Which is so cool, but at the same time, whenever it’s your first album, I think after doing enough song-writing sessions, we wanted this one, all the melodies and everything, to primarily come from us. After we had all the main bones and structures set, whenever we worked with our producers, they were all super-talented songwriters. And so hearing their voices, after we already had the first draft and demos, it was really, I would say, a smooth process. 

WC: Yeah, I like having the outside voices when it comes to production notes and how we can make this sound fuller or more complete, make it sound like a record. But regarding the composition and things like that, it was really helpful for Shawn and me to be alone in a room together. Just kind of hashing it out because, at least at the end of the day, we could say there was no outside influence. Like, this was only us, you know. That was a cool process. 

NES: Then I know from looking online that the last full US run, or at least the last time you were at where I am in Boston, was at Big Night Live. When did you start exploring making this full-length? When did you begin working on these songs? Was it on the road, or was it when you were home?

SA: Well, as I mentioned before, we had just been stacking up demos and initially gone out and had just recorded the Broad Shoulders and Tower of Terror as singles. And the intent was to keep those as singles apart from a full fourth EP. And then once we were given the idea of doing a full length album, once it became a real possibility, and that would have been April of this past year, of 2023. That was whenever we decided to make it into an album. That’s when we decided to hone in on doing an album, and we started prepping to go to Mexico in May. And then, yeah, we pretty much started that process in mid-May. Then, we finished the last bit of recording and producing in mid-July. So, the entire album process was only three months. Which I think is really cool, but just for the audio. 

NES: Then I’m sure you can’t say much, but I don’t believe, as of now, any dates for live shows have been announced, but considering how visual your sets are and how much effort you put into that. Are there songs on this album that you already envision live or songs that you think will go off well live? Songs on this record that you’re kind of already imagining. 

WC: Yeah, we’ve already started to kind of plan out some exciting moments in the set, I think. There’s one song that is not out yet, but there’s this one part at the very end where it just turns into a completely different sonic landscape. So we’re kind of trying to plan out how to execute that. Both instrumentally and visually. So, it’s been exciting. Yeah, I guess we can’t say too much about it. 

SA: Can we say the song’s name? I don’t know.   That song is Stop on a Dime. And I think it will be really fun live. I’m also looking forward to the last track on the album, hearing that live, and that’s Entangled. 

NES: And then for this one, you’ve been a unit together for quite a while. Is there something new you started doing? You did the bones of this one, just the two of you, but maybe things you would have told yourself when you were first making those EPs? If you have any regrets or things, you still have in the writing process from those early EPs. 

SA: I think along the way, we’ve definitely learned a ton of tips and tricks when it comes to producing mainly, I would say. And songwriting’s kind of been a gradual ebb and flow through just kind of how we’re feeling in the moment. Because sometimes, the song that we write, in terms of the flow that the song ends up, kind of changes from season to season. But I think the production techniques and the way that the two of us work together has maybe just strengthened. And just gotten a little bit more solidified over the years. 


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Colleen has been writing about music since 2009. Interviewing bands since the glory days of Warped and has continued to do so for now over fourteen years. As well as doing freelance for other publications, the love for everything rock continues today.