Alice Ivy and her many collaborators tell the story of the must-listen Don't Sleep
On her second record, Melbourne-based musician Alice Ivy enlists some of Australia's best musicians, and now, they work together to tell us the album's story.
At the core of Australian electronic's collaborative foundations is Alice Ivy. Since her initial emerging way back in 2016, the Melbourne-based musician has always used collaboration to further herself and tell potent, wide-ranging stories in the process of doing so, but in a way that doesn't feel manipulative or industry-engineered. While many artists attempt to collaborate with musicians to find new audiences (especially in electronica, where Alice Ivy's foundations largely sit), you get the sense that all of Alice's collaborative choices are authentic and real, built from connections and mutual admiration, rather than "oh, my manager decided it'll be a good idea that the radio would love."
This authentic brand of collaboration has helped Alice Ivy blossom into one of Australia's most brilliant songwriters, both through the singles that litter her earlier discography right through to the remixes that see her production prowess really seep through. On her masterful 2018 debut album I'm Dreaming, it was elevated to the next level, with Alice Ivy's sample-ridden productions and world-building songwriting forming a platform for collaborators such as Bertie Blackman and E^ST to move over, while solo tracks littered in between really saw her shine through undisturbed.
It was a well-rounded introduction to Alice Ivy and her work, from the particular brand of soundscapes that form the basis of her work right through to her approach to collaboration, which really felt like something special on I'm Dreaming. However, her second record - last week's arriving Don't Sleep - really pushes this to the next level, deepening Alice Ivy's craft while exploring new territory with collaborators that fit perfectly along the productions she builds, with each name she enlists helping to tell the story Alice hopes to paint the second time around.
Collaboration is at the core of Don't Sleep, and while there's little opportunity for Alice Ivy's work to come through undisturbed (only the short, opening track is solo), it feels like an Alice Ivy record at its foundations, and that's a remarkably difficult thing to do. Throughout Don't Sleep, Alice Ivy's productions are central of everything that goes down; the backbone that links together musicians such as Thelma Plum side by side with others like Ecca Vandal, who use the platform to tell stories both of Alice's and their own.
The record is also an opportunity to really hone in on the authenticity Alice Ivy brings in her work, and collaborative songwriting more generally-speaking. As mentioned, there's not a single moment of the record that feels purposefully engineered or put together by large-backing teams from labels destined to find the next hit. Instead, it's an opportunity for Alice Ivy to platform new voices and important voices alike, whether it be those that often drowned out systemically - due to racism, sexism, homophobia and so on - or those that simply haven't built the wide-ranging audience yet, but will soon get there.
"Don't Sleep is a body of work that features an abundance of voices that need to be heard and are generally not heard from enough," she says on the record, and how choice cast of collaborators. "Some of those voices belong to women, some are non-binary, some are people of colour and some identify as First Nations people, some are members of the LGBTQI+ community and all of them have important stories to tell. It’s been a privilege to create a platform where all of these voices can be heard through the medium of my music."
Here, as a means to amplify the significance of the record's collaboration process and the voices it aims to capture, we got Alice Ivy and her collaborators to break down the record and the stories that fuel it, and it's quite an adventure. Take a dive into the record while you're at it, because much like her last one, Alice Ivy's Don't Sleep is sure to end up one of the best, come year-end.
Champagne Late Nights
"Champagne Late Nights happened by accident! I was messing around with the beat super late at night. Those are actually my pitch-shifted vocals you can hear on it! I showed it to Imbi (who features on the album’s title track Don’t Sleep) after we’d finished vocal tracking for another song and they just started spitting out all of these adlibs. I was like 'damn, this is a vibe!' and I got to thinking, imagine if this was the intro to the new album? And here we are!" - Alice Ivy
Sunrise feat. Cadence Weapon
"When I met up with Alice to record in Toronto, I had just been in Los Angeles for a few weeks doing sessions and the atmosphere of that city really stuck with me. That trip inspired me to write this escapist fantasy about a mythical place where the sun is always shining, it's always summer and you have total freedom. The music Alice came up with suited that feeling perfectly. It's also inspired by my time living in Montréal and the rooftop parties we used to have where we'd stay up all night and watch the sun come up. So rather than a particular topic, Sunrise is really about harnessing a specific feeling." - Cadence Weapon.
In My Mind feat. Ecca Vandal
“I had so much fun writing this one with Annika. It just makes me wanna bliss out and sip cocktails in the sun!” - Ecca Vandal
Ticket To Heaven feat. Thelma Plum
“Alice and I worked on this song shortly after the loss of a close friend, a musician I’d shared many stages with. I hope we’ve done his memory justice.” - Thelma Plum
Don’t Sleep feat. Imbi & BOI
“The sort of picture I see in my head is me and my amazing community slowly permeating out of a warehouse at 3 AM in the morning and strolling through the streets of the inner west on a completely different frequency and sharing in that sort of bliss. Also choosing to feel that as opposed to focusing on the pain in our bodies for moving for six hours straight or the work we have to do the next day.” - imbi
“For me, this particular song is the rollercoaster of not giving up and the burden of wanting something so badly. Especially with all three of us in the room writing, we have all experienced not giving up, being run down to the ground, tired, going on zero sleep, not choosing to sleep because you’re so empowered about what you are doing.” - BOI
I’ll Find It feat. Odette
“Annika and I sat down in the studio to rework a song we'd written at Ricochet 2019 at her studio in Melbourne. We were both buzzing but she could tell I was grappling with something so we both had a big chat over a nice glass of OJ. This song, like its producer, is dear to my heart. It's a yearning for my future self, to be past the place I was in. Even listening to it now, I can see us in her studio, jumping around as we both sonically transported ourselves into polyrhythmic fields of retrospection and joy.'’ - Odette
Sweetest Love feat Montaigne & Bertie Blackman
“Sweetest Love - what a dream to do a duet in French with Montaigne. She’s got such a monumental voice and presence. The three of us had a really fun time writing this song. We all really just wanted to approach a pop song differently.. so I suggested in a different language, and Jess said ‘how about french?!’ And Voilà!” - Bertie Blackman
All Hit Radio feat. Teef & TESSA
“Truth be told. I tend to hate working with other people 'cause most people are crappy insecure and wanna project their flaws onto u. Alice Ivy was none of that and which I thank her for. True pleasure to work with n a blessing to be on her album. Love love love. U go gurl smash it up.” - TeeF
“Annika showed me this beat during SXSW in Austin. We threw some ideas together one afternoon between showcases. I remember the melody got so stuck in my head, I couldn’t wait to hear it finished” - TESSA
Better Man feat. Benjamin Joseph
"Working with Annika on Better Man was an absolute pleasure. I'd always been a fan of her stuff and could already tell before working together that she had a great ear for feel & vibe. The session was refreshingly effortless & it wasn't long before we had the bones of the song realised." - Benjamin Joseph (SAFIA)
My Turn feat. Swsh
"This song probably hits the hardest on the record. Swsh and I recorded it in a pool house in LA and we jumped in the pool whenever things got too heated!" - Alice Ivy
Money feat Dijah SB
“Alice and I linked up and made Money in a matter of hours. It was actually a pretty defining moment of my career, since I had never really written a song on the spot like that. It reassured me that a music career is my destiny, seeing how it all came so easily to me, especially because Alice was a good vibe and the beat is fire. I’m so happy the track is finally out and I hope y’all enjoy. Love you Alice! Congrats!” - Dijah SB
All In For You feat Ngaiire
“A big ball of light walked into my house last year and we a song together that has now ended up on her new album with these other wonder kids.” - Ngaiire
Gold feat. Bertie Blackman
“Gold - it’s about painting yourself in illusions to feel held by the world. Annika’s colours such a beautiful emotion around the words and vocals with her production. This track only took us a couple of hours to write!” - Bertie Blackman
Follow Alice Ivy: FACEBOOK