Indie Mixtape 20: James Ivy Is Most Inspired By His Parents (And Thom Yorke)

After gaining some attention from a series of standalone singles over the last few years, Korean-American producer-songwriter James Ivy has finally welcomed us into his unique musical world with the Good Grief EP. Built upon a driving sense of groove, the EP combines elements of anthemic rock, electronica, and early-2000’s pop sounds that almost feel like they’re from a lost era. The EP is what Ivy calls “a project that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time,” and the attention to details is palpable throughout its five tracks.

To celebrate the new EP, Ivy sat down to talk Linkin Park, Korean food in New Jersey, and more in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Fun, Funny, Full, and Fucked.

It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

I’d like it to just leave a mark on people in any capacity! Just to know that the music that moved me while making it, also moved other people who listened to it is enough for me.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?

Had the most insane time performing in Brooklyn about a week ago. I think I just got super amped to play cause I knew a bunch of my friends were coming hahaha. But we play our first night in Austin tomorrow so we’ll see how that measures up. I feel like it’s gonna be a crazy one.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

It truthfully changes all the time and the question can really be interpreted in so many different ways. I feel like my parents inspired me and gave me a lot of opportunities growing up to pursue what I wanted in life, in this case, music. Right now I think my biggest musical inspiration is Thom Yorke. But the people who have most inspired my work have honestly all been my friends, peers and contemporaries. There’s really nothing like getting inspired by people your age doing cool shit.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life?

So Moon Nan Jib in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Favorite Korean food ever.

What album do you know every word to?

Meteora by Linkin Park. I can’t really remember song lyrics like I used to when I was a kid. Think I know Mike Shinoda’s whole verse on “Nobody’s Listening” Lol.

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

No bias, Nurture Tour Live. Porter’s set is seriously crafted with so much love and care and it really really shows. I think closely behind is seeing Show Me the Body live in New York.

What is the best outfit for performing and why?

Jeans and a Tee-shirt. Makes it really simple every night if you have a bunch of shirts you like and jeans that fit well. Dressing up to perform is hard hahaha I’ve given up a bit and have kept it pretty simple on this tour.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?

Action Bronson. Super inspiring person for real. Larger than life personality too.

What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?

We don’t play a ton of music on the bus because we drive a lot at night and we are all sleeping for the most part. But I put on my headphones every night and fall asleep to ambient music a lot of the time. Brian Eno’s Music For Airports and Alvedon’s song “WEArgue.”

What’s the last thing you Googled?

“Demon Slayer Movie Stream”

What album makes for the perfect gift?

The Blue Nile – Hats. Great sad holiday gift record.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?

Honestly, haven’t crashed in any weird places yet! Green room couches in states I’ve never been is about as wild as it’s gotten so far.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

I was in Austin and I had just turned 18. A few of my friends out there had started getting tattoos and we all joked about me getting a tattoo on my trip. I actually said I was going to do it at one point and they didn’t let me take it back. I had no idea what to get so I found this picture of the character Bloo from the cartoon Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends and decided on getting it on my upper thigh so it wouldn’t be visible if I was wearing pants, only in shorts. We drove to this place off the side of the highway called “Atomic Tattoo” I think and it was so shit hahaha. The person who gave it to me used the thickest lines ever and had the heaviest hand. My most painful tattoo by far.

What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?

I don’t want to sound like a snob but I never listen to radio anymore. It’s really aux cord, bluetooth, or bust at this point. If it’s an oldies channel and they’re playing the Cars or the Cure or something I’ll stick around though.

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

My friend Instupendo modded my 3DS once and put an insane amount of games on the console itself so it just had every game I’d ever want to play on it ever. Also added a bunch of cute backgrounds and homepage themes for me. Gotta be the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever gotten.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

I would tell him to stop chasing what other artists have already done!!! Feel like I wasted so much of my life trying to replicate my inspiration’s work, rather than finding something in me that was more of my own. Would also give him some better music to listen to, and maybe some advice on how to dress.

What’s the last show you went to?

I went to see Wavedash and Anamanaguchi play live in Pittsburgh. Such a great show I love all those guys dearly.

What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?

I always watch About Time if it’s ever on. Most goated Rom Com ever hands down no debate.

What would you cook if Obama were coming to your house for dinner?

Instant ramen.

Good Grief is out now on FADER. Listen here.