Korean-American artist James Ivy is making waves in the music industry thanks to his unique blend of pop, electronic and punk rock. 

After a string of critically acclaimed singles over the last few years, Ivy performed a breakthrough set at Secret Sky Virtual Festival earlier this year.

Showing no signs of slowing down, he is set to join DJ Porter Robinson on his upcoming US tour. On top of that, October 22nd will see the release of his debut EP, Good Grief!.

Ivy’s latest track ‘Pushin’ Thru It’ serves some serious ’90s nostalgia with its blend of anthemic vocals and crunchy guitar, which he reveals is the sound he’s been “trying to capture in [his] music for a while.”

“This song was a product of me pulling out all the stops and just following first instincts rather than second-guessing myself,” he said.

To celebrate the recent release of ‘Pushin’ Thru It’, we had a chat with James Ivy as part of our Get To Know series.

Check out ‘Pushin’ Thru It’ by James Ivy: 

How did your artist name come about?

My real name is James Butler the Fourth, meaning my dad, my dad’s dad, and my dad’s dad’s dad were all also named James Butler. In roman numerals, the fourth is abbreviated to IV. That’s how I decided on James Ivy hahaha.

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How would you describe your music to your grandma?

Uhhhh, I think I would just say that it’s pretty based on a lot of the music I grew up on. Early 2000’s pop, pop-punk and rock music, but with a more modern twist.

Tell us about your latest track; its title and what it’s about?

My newest track is called ‘Pushin’ Thru’ It. It’s the outro track for my EP titled Good Grief!. As far as the music I’ve released so far goes, this one is definitely my favourite by a large margin. Making this song felt like the first time I’d made something that was truly representative of my taste and inspirations as an artist, and I think it’s a track that’s really true to myself. For that reason, it hits so much harder for me.

The title ‘Pushin’ Thru It’ is the main lyric in the chorus of the song, and the phrase is a testament to living day to day with any sort of thing that anyone has to deal with that they’re just “pushing through” to get by. It’s a bit sad in that respect, but also carries a lot of hope in that line too.

What do you love about your hometown?

I grew up in Bergen County, New Jersey and I really love how all the nature looks there. New Jersey gets a bad rap for being an ugly state, but outside of Newark Airport (which most people judge it on), it’s a really really beautiful place. I love driving around where I grew up, and whenever I’m home I always drive around places I used to frequent growing up (my high school, parks, old friends’ neighbourhoods.) I’m not there very much anymore but it’s really great whenever I get the chance to spend some time there. Also, the bagels.

Career highlight so far?

Definitely being the opener for Porter Robinson’s Nurture Tour. It’s my first tour experience and first time playing pretty big venues which is a crazy feeling. Really insane to wake up in a new city every day, and play a show every night and have your lyrics sung back at you by a crowd. Super surreal stuff.

Fave non-music hobby?

Playing video games! (League and Teamfight Tactics and anything Nintendo related) and cooking.

What’s on your dream rider?

Dream rider is throat coat, and a bunch of room temperature water. Add ons would be Doritos Sweet & Spicy Chili flavour, and dark chocolate anything.

Dream music collaboration?

Tough one for sure. I think working with the Gorillaz would be really cool, and I only really say them because I feel like they’re one of the only artists/groups still actively pursuing collaboration with other artists. A lot of my inspirations I hope to never meet/work with hahaha. Feel like I would embarrass myself. Having a song with Slowthai or Show Me The Body would be really cool I think.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully, still making music, but nearing the end of my career maybe? I’ll be 32 in 10 years which is pretty crazy to even think about. Would love to be scoring movies at that age. I really look up to people like Ryuchi Sakamoto, Jonny Greenwood, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and Jon Brion for how they’ve been able to have such long-lasting careers in music that transitioned into writing scores for movies down the line.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ (can do a good Brandon Urie impression), anything that I can find that’s of the 2010’s pop-punk era (Underoath, I Set My Friends on Fire, Never Shout Never), ‘Karma Police’, Kanye West.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Wasn’t exactly straight-up advice, more of a reaction to my music. A couple of years ago I was showing my soon-to-be girlfriend some music I was working on and could tell that she wasn’t super into it. She wasn’t mean about it or anything and complimented it, but I could tell by her expression and reaction that something was a little off. I figured out later on my own that it was because my music didn’t have enough of myself in it. I think at this point in music, wearing your influences on your sleeve is not a bad thing by any means, but at the same time, there still has to be that little bit of something extra in there that’s truly you and very genuine.

As soon as I began to trust myself a little more and believe in my own ideas and strengths, my music began to get a lot better, and the new music I showed my girlfriend later down the line got a much more excited reaction than the first time. Learning to find confidence in myself and not my inspirations was definitely key for me as an artist!

What’s one obsession you have that no one would guess after listening to your music?

I’m really obsessed with Dubstep and Metal music!!! :)

Check out ‘Last Star’ by James Ivy:

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