With her breakout single “Get Me a Drink” netting countless plays, and a debut album just released, it only makes sense that Melbourne-based musician Annika Schmarsel—better known as Alice Ivy—is finally taking her simultaneously fresh and familiar sound on the road. Though you might not know her yet, you’ll soon be seeing her name on all the festival lineup posters, including a South by Southwest performance on March 16 at Lucille. You best get familiar now while you can still claim early-awareness cool points.
How does one sample ethically? Who are her influences? And what’s the best environment to experience her album, I’m Dreaming, which is the type of album that's best enjoyed by listening to it all the way through? PRØHBTD asked Alice Ivy these and other questions to put together a little primer on your soon-to-be-favorite new artist.
What’s one of the most common presumptions about you made by those who aren’t yet familiar with your work?
You’d be surprised at how often people assume that, because I’m a female, I’m just a singer or vocalist. While I do sing live and on my records sometimes, I’m primarily a producer. I think it’s a pretty disappointing comment about gender bias when it comes to music production, particularly true within electronic music.
What setting or activity do you think I'm Dreaming is best suited for?
The other day I hosted an album listening party, and we played the record during sunset on a rooftop covered in cacti, which was absolutely magical. Another really great setting is that winding down part of the night when you get home super late or early in the morning. I guess it can work as a wind up or a good come down soundtrack. [Laughs]
Where are you most excited to hit on your tour, and are there any particular cities or venues you'd love to play someday?
I'm super excited to be playing South by Southwest for the first time this year, but this weekend I am playing in my hometown Melbourne. There is something special about playing a hometown show. I'm sooooo excited!
Pie in the sky, which vocalist would you most love to work with for one of your tracks?
A badass female rapper, probably Missy Elliot. But I'm also a massive Little Dragon fan. Working with Yukimi would be a dream come true for me.
Pardon the American-centric reference, but who do you put on your Mount Rushmore of sample-heavy artists like yourself?
My number one would easily be J Dilla. I looooooove Onra, Jamie xx, Gramatik and fellow Aussies The Avalanches, of course.
Who are some idols in music or elsewhere who have been inspiring and influencing your work?
I grew up listening to a lot of soul and Motown music. Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Etta James and Curtis Mayfield were my high school soundtrack. What I love about the genre is the fact that the songs are so colorful and uplifting. When you pull apart, for example, Marvin Gaye's "What’s Going On," there are layers and layers of instrumentation, which is how I approach my own production.
Outside of other people, where else do you draw aural inspiration from when concocting beats? Where do you source your old-timey samples?
I love listening to old radio broadcasts. They're really great to sample and can spark a lot of ideas in songwriting. For example, in "Chasing Stars," the radio sample in the beginning is about when telephones were first installed on the east and west coasts of the United States, and people were still getting used to that way of communicating.
You've spoken about a need for society to move past the litigiousness surrounding sampling. Where do you personally draw the line between stealing and sampling? Is there a particular snippet length or amount of modulation of a voice in a clip that suddenly renders the sampling ethical in your mind?
I think that what should be valued is the way the producer uses the sample, rather than how much of the sample is actually used. Take Jamie xx, for example. On his latest record, "Loud Places," he has this massive sample in the chorus—Idris Muhammad's "Could Heaven Ever Be Like This." Yes, it's a massive sample in the chorus, but the way he wrote a whole song around it—taking a disco sample and turning it into a slow electronic moody song and transformed the whole meaning of it—is phenomenal.
As someone who keeps busy with multiple instruments and boards during live performances, do you have any opinions on DJs who sort of just press play on their mixes and then just jump around their set-up?
That set-up works for some people, for sure, but I’d get bored on stage if I were to do that. I come from playing in bands, and I feel like live instrumentation is just another way to be super into what you’re doing on stage. I can actually get quite anxious on stage, and keeping as busy as possible helps me deal with that anxiety. Plus running around on stage and working your ass off leaves the audience feeling satisfied that you have put everything into your performance.
What's a music trend you'd like to see left behind in 2017?
Honestly, this is a tough question. I think, in 2018, what I would like to see is more abstract art and risks from major pop artists. People are dissing the Justin Timberlake record right now, but I think it's soooo interesting. These kinds of people are setting the new rules, and they have the most influence on music trends. I’m a massive Frank Ocean fan, and his music is always luminary. You don't know what to expect from him, except that it’ll be groundbreaking.
Finally, if a fan sees you out in the wild and wants to get you one, what's your preferred drink?
Lately I've been reaaaaally into Champagne. So, let’s say a glass of Veuve.