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 is slated to drop on February 23. To date, The Ivy’s 2017 “Have You Ever Been in Love” has earned more than eighteen 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.”

Knowledge gained on earlier projects is drawn upon regularly when a new record is begun. Further lessons are also likely to be learned in the process. “A Door Still Open came from a bunch of demos we’d written before we even knew we were doing an album,” Abhari recollects. “The challenge was how to make only a chorus and a verse fit with some of our other ideas. That was always hard but engineers and producers in LA helped us make the environment feel like it was in the same headspace.”

Virtually any band would be thrilled with the eighteen 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 eighties genre was popular at the time and maybe it fell right into the algorithm,” Abhari speculates. “I loved the crunchy, eighties-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 eleven (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 twenty-dollar 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.”

The three most important lessons the two have learned as producers, musicians and engineers are:

  • It’s not about what you can do with your instrument. It’s how you can serve the song.
  • Any sound can be cool if you manipulate it hard enough. We once made a song entirely out of six samples of paper being torn.
  • You can achieve everything you need without spending thousands of dollars. Our songs that have reached the most listeners were done on inexpensive equipment.

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. Until 2021, all of their music on Spotify was recorded in their bedrooms.

Contact - wearetheivy.com; Instagram = @wearetheivy;

Amanda Curtis - Press Here Publicity, [email protected]