Interview with groundbreaking Indie singer Bishop Ivy

Image credit: LPR Agency

At the tender age of 14, musician Bishop Ivy would begin his musical journey busking in Boston with his unique alternative pop sound infused with electronic notes. He has cited the likes of globally renowned acts like Bon Iver, Frank Ocean and Imogen Heap as highly influential to his overall sound. Now, many years later Ivy is a college student studying music and electrical engineering in Pennsylvania. He recently shared his single ‘tunnel vision’ via Handwritten Records. The single explores the blinding aspects of romantic relationships and how one tries to focus on the good qualities instead of the bad.

We chatted with singer-songwriter Bishop Ivy below.

Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?

When I was 13-14, my biggest musical inspiration was Ed Sheeran. That probably doesn’t totally come across in my new music, but I started trying to write catchy pop ballads emulating his. I’ve since added more experimental influences to that songwriting practice. I also started using loopers in my live performances because of him. I eventually ditched trying to do everything with an unaffected acoustic guitar, and that lead me to experiment with pedals and synths, which were some of the first experiments that led to my weirder production style now.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

I generally come up with melodies when I’m not trying to, and when that happens I’ll quickly record them. I also usually am regularly journaling anything that I think could turn into a song later. When I find that some journal happens to feel the same way as a certain melody, I’ll run with that to write a song. When I find a song that happens to go well with a certain beat I’ve made, I’ll combine those into a recording.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Listening to other music and appreciating art. I don’t listen to a lot of different music but will find an album that I like and have that on repeat constantly. I try to become really familiar with artists I like so that I can start to emulate them in my own work. I find if I listen to a lot of a certain artist, my melodies will begin to sound like theirs.

As a musician, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the art and the business. Is there anything about the music scene that you would personally change?

I wish it were more possible for artists to focus on their music without extra side-hustles. Like, I wish it wasn’t imperative that every album have a series of T-shirts be designed and sold to pay for it. I wish it were possible to stick to creating what the artist finds most inspiring (like an album or a music video, etc), and not have to fill in with extra content and merchandise to keep business flowing.

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

Studio work, 100%. I’ve been thinking about that distinction a lot recently. I don’t really like performing all that much, and over the years my live shows have become more and more about the technology that I’m using than what I’m actually doing on stage. In the long term, I imagine the live experience for my music will be an exhibition rather than a performance. I’d rather create a sound/art installation one can visit than put on a show.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

I’m always blown away when people tell me that they have been following my music for a long time. Like, I’ll hear people tell me that they saw me street performing back in 2015 and are still keeping up with what I’m putting out, which I find shocking for some reason. I’m especially appreciative when people continue to listen for years.

What’s on your current playlist?

I’ve been listening to Brockhampton’s new album, Ashe’s new album, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, and The 1975’s Notes On A Conditional Form. I’ve been listening to classical music some lately too. György Ligeti specifically.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

I’ll be releasing multiple music videos and another EP over the course of the summer. Like ‘tunnel vision’ my latest single. The new EP is produced by me and has a darker, more atmospheric sound.

Famous last words?

After like 30 minutes of Googling famous last words, I like Isaac Newton’s: “I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” Mine probably will not be that elegant…

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