Producer Crosstalk: The Ivy

Band and production team The Ivy—Wyatt Clem and Shawn Abhari— met in 2016 while studying music production at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Oklahoma City. Both arrived with a music background and a passion for the craft of making records. Together the duo has released three self-produced EPs and the full-length A Door Still Open dropped in February. To date, The Ivy’s 2017 “Have You Ever Been in Love” has earned more than 18 million Spotify streams. 

Writing and recording a song is typically only part of the artistic equation. Another crucial piece is how an artist knows if what they’ve created has merit or commercial viability. “If I’m not vibing with it within the first few days, then I move on,” Clem observes. “But Shawn and I won’t give up if there’s a song with one sound that doesn’t fit. Sometimes we can lose sight of whether it’s a good song as a whole because we want to make a certain tone or performance work. Otherwise we try to follow our joy and excitement, especially if we both feel it.” 

“I’ve learned over the years that all of the sounds in a song should feel like they’re in the same environment,” Abhari adds. “If you use a certain amount of reverb on one instrument, then make sure that it blends into the mix so that it all sounds like it’s in the same room. If I get stuck, I just turn on the main core elements. If those all sound good, then I’ll add other things piece by piece. If something is really jarring, we figure out what’s working and what’s not by building it up track by track.” 

Virtually any band would be thrilled with the 18 million Spotify streams that “Have You Ever Been in Love” has amassed. But what was it about that song that imbued it with such stellar reach? “I don’t know why it hit other than maybe that indie-pop '80s genre was popular at the time and maybe it fell right into the algorithm,” Abhari speculates. “I loved the crunchy, '80s-sounding four chords. I took the drum rack from one of Wyatt’s demos that had some really cool reverse snares and things and made the beat from it.” 

Many artists are noted for their customized gear. Eddie Van Halen had his Frankenstrat and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready has a custom-modified amp that goes to 11 (really). In Clem’s case, his most prized piece of gear is his hacked Mexican Strat. “I took the body off of Shawn’s first electric guitar—a $20 Squier—and combined it with parts from my own,” he recalls. “Now it feels better than it ever did. I don’t see myself parting with that anytime soon.” 

For 2024, The Ivy plans to concentrate on local shows initially and to join a larger tour towards the summer. The two also have material for another record in their creative queue. Both Clem and Abhari maintain home spaces from which they record demos. Often they work at the Santa Monica studio of SameSame, the production duo of Rob Cohen and Blake Mares. 

Visit; Instagram @wearetheivy; 

Contact [email protected] 

Photo by TheIvy Austin West