I am generally really fond of music artists who are brutally honest about their songwriting and what inspires them. That said, on my music radar of late has been rising star Ivory Layne and her heart-on-sleeve approach to music. Earlier this month I passed comment that I didn’t know too much about her, but after a little further digging a short time ago, I discovered that the former North Carolina native has increasingly been making waves in her adopted new home of Nashville for about the past five fives or so. Interestingly, a few years back she signed to Justin Timberlake’s Villa 40 artist development group. Of course this sort of exposure isn’t always going to guarantee success. In truth, I’m not so sure she needs it. She seems to have the ability to grab people’s attention all on her own, especially with her otherworldly vocals and poetic lyrics.
I recently had the good fortune to catch up with Ivory Layne prior to the release of Me, her third and latest single released this year. That said, timing is everything in this game and although we unfortunately didn’t get the chance to talk about Me, I did discover some wonderful things about her and her incredibly well received songs Boy Loves Me and Heaven. Here’s some of what we talked about.
I understand you moved to Nashville some five or six years ago now. What is it about this music mecca that you love the most?
I love the sense of community here. People genuinely want to help each other and care about writing authentic music.
Do you think Nashville has changed you or how you approach music at present?
Nashville has definitely encouraged me to be myself and not shy away from telling vulnerable stories in my writing.
Your strengths as a musician really shine through especially in your songwriting. Do you remember writing your first really important song and what was it about?
Thank you, Rob! One such song I wrote back in my freshman year of high school for a school assembly. It was a song about faith and self-worth and the first time I had played an original in front of my peers. Hearing my classmate’s feedback and connection with the song was a large part of me wanting to pursue artistry.
Do you let your subconscious run wild when songwriting or do you find you have to reign yourself in?
It’s a give and take. I usually let my brain go wherever it wants at the beginning of a session, then slowly reign it in as a song takes shape. My hope is that my music stays fresh and creative while also easy to understand and relate to.
On the most basic level, what inspires you?
Humans! We’re amazingly complex.
Earlier this year you released Boy Loves Me which you describe as a feminist love song. I really like it because it seem unguarded, confident and yet also vulnerable all rolled into one. Is that a good way of looking at it too?
Absolutely. I wanted to write something that gave me the ability to be a hopeful romantic without sacrificing any of my confidence or independence. Relationships and self-respect don’t have to be mutually exclusive!
Musically Boy Loves Me seems to be a piano-centric song despite its catchy pop synth beat. Did you originally write it on piano? If so, was there a temptation to leave it like that before remixing it?
I did write it on piano, though it did go through an upbeat ukulele version (not my best work!). Though piano is my main instrument, I’ve always grown a bit bored with simple piano ballads, so I knew I wanted more elements added in producing it with Liam Howe.
Earlier this month I featured your single Heaven in my series ‘Songs about overcoming adversity’. It really is a wonderful song we can all relate to in our search for inner strength. What has been the reaction like to it?
Thank you for the feature! I’ve loved hearing both strangers and friends connect to “Heaven” in such a deep way. That was my hope for the song all along. I’m grateful to have fans who truly listen and appreciate the lyrics.
Finally before I let you go, can you tell us what else you have in store in the months to come? I understand you plan on releasing some more singles?
Yes! I’m over-the-moon excited to be releasing a song a month. Lots more music and magic to come. Thank you for having me!
We will endeavour to keep you posted as new announcements filter through about Ivory Layne. In the meantime, check out all her singles including Me via Spotify. You can also visit her website to join her newsletter for exclusive content and all things Ivory. Follow her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram. Watch her on You Tube.
I really like Ivory Layne’s songwriting and vocal style. Thanks for featuring her, Rob.