Whoever tells us pop, electronic music and good old songwriting are separate entities that don’t mix very well, clearly hasn’t listened to much of today’s wave of exciting new artists. The Ghent-based Fien Deman is a very good example of this open approach to making music that doesn’t belong in a single category. Some enthusiasts might know Deman from previous endeavours like ‘I will, I swear’, but nowadays, she has her mind set on pushing forward her newest project: Ivy Falls. Impressive performances with her band at AB, Ghent Jazz and Botanique already made it very clear what kind of talent we’re dealing with here – and last year’s ‘Mean Girls EP’ definitely proved her capabilities as a producer, singer and lyricist. One of the tracks on this release, ‘Fold’, now gets a visual extension by the famed Maxime Desmet and Alexander Popelier (two names that have done work for Oscar & The Wolf amongst many others). Scroll down for an exclusive first glance at this beautiful music video – or for a nice little chat we had with Deman about the ‘when’, the ‘who’ and the ‘why’ of Ivy Falls.
Some people might know you from your previous work with your band ‘I Will, I Swear’. Ivy Falls seems like a completely different approach to music: warmer, more uplifting and more complete. Why did you decide to go in this new direction?
"Being in my previous band was never a long-term plan. At one point, I was just asked to join and said yes right away. The years flew by, I made great memories, I got to know a lot of people and I learned a lot about making music and everything that goes on behind the scenes. But at a certain moment, I realised that the music I listened to on a daily basis was not the music I was making. Ivy Falls now is the result of all the songs and bands I love blended together. In this way, I find peace when making music again - if it makes me happy, if I enjoy it, then I know that this song is ready."
Is Ivy Falls a project that you use to creatively explore new ways of making music without being too serious - or is it more of a delicate and personal way of expressing your own thoughts and feelings? Or both?
"At first glance, the music sounds soft, warm and innocent. If you listen attentively, you notice that some parts of the lyrics are actually quite harsh, or they have a very cynical vibe to it. Each and every song contains some kind of lesson I have learned in the past. It's as if these tracks are 'sticky notes' to remind me not to make these mistakes twice: mistakes about myself, about others, about the general things in life. I also think the soft, uplifting vibe in my music, together with the melancholic (yet often cynical) lyrics, gives a good idea of who I am: an introverted extrovert, happy but sometimes quite negative at the same time, moving fast but slow, steady but impulsive. Just a bunch of contradictions."
Can you tell us a little bit more about the other members of the band? They all have previous experience with some well-known outfits in the Belgian music landscape if we’re not mistaken…
"My musicians play in different bands, different genres, different styles. That's very interesting, they sometimes have ideas that you won't normally think of in a regular 'pop band'. Simon is a very talented jazz drummer who also plays in Steiger, a promising jazz band. Trui plays in different projects, the best known one is Tsar B. In my band, she plays bass guitar and sings the backing vocals. She was also in my previous band ‘I will, I swear’, and we've been friends since we were 13 years old. Xavier is also a band member of Sleepers Reign. All three of them are full-time musicians, which causes our schedules to clash sometimes, as I work 9 to 5, but they put a lot of energy and effort in my band and I'm very grateful for it."
When you start writing new music, do you usually have an idea of what the track should sound like? Or is it a long process with feedback loops and trial and error?
"I think it's important to write a song quickly. By that, I mean that the basis should not be overthought. Sometimes, you just feel you have to write some music, it's not a very specific idea, but you just start to play a few chords, put in some beats and very importantly: sing. I record about 3-5 vocal takes one by one without listening to them right away afterwards. I just improvise and sing whatever I come up with. Subsequently, I take some time to listen to what I just made after which I find some hooks and a theme for the song. It's important for me to just sing and play music straight away - afterwards I determine what it will be about, writing more about that feeling or idea along the way. That way, it's 100% what I really wanted to say or feel. I try to let a song rest for a while after I wrote the basis for it. It's important to have 'fresh ears' when listening to it another time. After that, it's a long process of trial and error - and I let other people (like my producer, drummer or others) help me to fine-tune."
We have the honour of premiering the new video you made with Maxime Desmet & Alexander Popelier (who also did work for Oscar & the Wolf amongst many others) for ‘Fold’ - a track of your ‘Mean Girls’ EP that came out last year. It almost seems like you are trapped in a classic painted portrait. What’s the idea behind this very personal, yet minimalistic music video?
"I was thinking about a video that would work for ‘Fold’. It didn't really feel as if a complicated script or something flashy would be well-suited. I wanted something simple, something to let the song speak for itself. I wanted it to seem that, when you scroll through YouTube, it would look like just some audio file with a picture. If you would stop and look, you realize this picture is actually a video. We worked on the lighting and the frame for so long, because that’s absolutely crucial for the idea of the video. Maxime Desmet has done a bunch of music videos for talented artists and he is such a great DOP to work with; he has a great eye for aesthetics. Alexander Popelier is an amazing photographer (he also did our press pictures and the set photos of this music video). He knew exactly how to direct this video, so the tiny movements and expressions would make an impact and make the viewer listen carefully to the song and its lyrics."
Guide us through your tour schedule for the coming months. Any shows we can’t afford to miss?
"We have a few nice summer dates coming up, but most of them are unannounced yet. These are our upcoming shows we can share with you:
14.04.2018 - Kraakpand, Handelsbeurs with Uma Chine and more
28.04.2018 - Les Nuits Botanique with Mabel and Noah Slee
01.07.2018 - Paradise City Festival "
Follow Ivy Falls on Facebook to stay in the loop about news, fresh music and upcoming gigs.