Ivy Levan For BELLO Mag Music – May 2015

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Ivy Levan is Just Getting Started

Featured in BELLO mag May 2015 issue #70Download BELLO mag App

If you’ve ever traveled to LA, you know that nearly everyone you meet seems to be either an actor, singer, or model (or some combination thereof). Thus, we are faced with a city filled with an enormous amount of talent. I mean, just look at how many singing reality shows we have these days! There is an army of talented individuals out there, and LA seems to be the Mecca for it all. While many sadly give up on their dreams after years of defeat, singer Ivy Levan has proved that with passion, dedication, and a strong drive like hers, you can make it to the other side!

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With a debut album on the way and two theme songs about to hit the big screen, Levan isn’t slowing down anytime soon! On June 5th, Levan will show off her talent for the theme song in the new movie Spy, as well as the new Mission Impossible movie later this year. Those right there are two major things worth celebrating. “Spy is starring Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, and Jason Statham. I just saw it, and hearing my voice at the beginning is so surreal,” she says. “So that’s f**king awesome.”

At the age of 16, Levan arrived in Hollywood, a far change from the norm back in Bentonville, Arkansas. While she may have left her southern state behind, her southern charm seemed to follow. “Being the southern girl that I am, it’s deeply imbedded in me,” she says. “It affects pretty much everything that I do. From my lifestyle to my friends to the things I like, [and] even to the food…[it all] influences my music. It’s always a part of me. It’s in my blood.”

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Not only is LA filled with an enormous amount of talent, but it’s also filled with a lot of fame and fortune. How does one navigate through all that noise? For Levan, it was a journey that led her through a lot of not-so-good people in order for her to end up connecting with Lucas Banker. If you are unfamiliar with the name, let me catch you up. Banker is a songwriter as well as a producer who has worked with artists such as Selena Gomez and Junkie XL. When talking about her early career in LA, she says, “Well, like any struggle in LA, you keep moving and connecting. You hope to leave a good impression on people, which led me to Lucas. I’ve kind of been through the wringer and didn’t really have a good first experience in the music business, so that helped me learn what I do like and what I don’t like. I met Lucas through a mutual friend, and it was like magic.”
With the army of egos in LA, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. Luckily for Levan, she attributes her time back in Arkansas for keeping her grounded.
“You always have to stay humble. Being a decent human being is a choice. I constantly want to learn, and always have my mind open,” she says. “I think this keeps me grounded. I am always wanting knowledge. I have good friends, and have taken a long time to weed out a few.”

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Songwriting is a major part of an artist’s process. While many A-List singers have writers on board during their sessions, Levan is quite the opposite. “I don’t want to talk bad on anyone. Frank Sinatra didn’t write his songs, a lot of people don’t write their songs,” she says. “But for me, I have so much of a story to tell. It would not make any sense if I didn’t write from my experience. I enjoy this. I use my own selfishness on this, and end up making good music.”
While many of us often spend hours venting to therapists about our problems, she says songwriting is an outlet for her that she uses as therapy. Writing is a powerful tool to get out your emotions, and to get your feelings off your chest. While the dreaded heartbreak in life may be tough to go through, it’s something we all experience. When talking about powering through these tough times she says, “Oh man, write some songs. It really helps! It’s that basic, actually. Start by writing your feelings down. Any medium that you can create and let go is a big A +. Also, none of us are perfect, none of us are alike, so who cares. Don’t be so serious, and don’t take life so seriously.” Can we get an amen to that!?

Pursuing life’s biggest dreams isn’t always the easiest journey. In order for us to reach our goals, we often have to embrace the storm as we go through it. For Levan, it was the bad moments that helped shape her into who she is today. She says it ended up helping her out later on in the music industry by providing clarity when looking who to work with on various projects. One of these major people in the industry was none other than Diplo himself. “It was a trip. He is a hoot and a character in his own,” she says. “I love when people have such unique style. He knows exactly what he wants. It was very organic and easy to get along with him.”

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After working hard at perfecting her music, she debuted her first single, “Biscuit,” earlier this year. “’Biscuit’ comes from my Southern roots. There is a saying called ‘butter my butt and call me a biscuit,’ which basically is when you are astounded by someone’s actions or learn something new about someone,” she says. “Naturally, I applied it to taking on the haters in life and all the smoke blowing and bullshit I have dealt with in this industry the last two years. Kiss my biscuit. It’s tongue-and-cheek.”

People often think their favorite celebrities are born overnight; they believe singers and actors rise to fame overnight. But the truth couldn’t be further from that. “It’s not all rainbows, butterflies and puppies; it’s a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of slimy people. You have to have thick skin,” she says, laughing. “If you really believe in yourself, then you just have to keep moving forward and following what you love.”

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photography J. HORTON
words by Joey Parker
styling BRETT NELSON at THE ONLY AGENCY
hair ABREEA SAUNDERS
makeup IVY LEVAN

Fashion List: LYNN BAN, MICHAEL COSTELLO, AUGUST GETTY, CASADEI

About The Author

Stephane Marquet
Creative Director

First of all, excuse my French! … I was born in the South of France. Lived in Paris for 10 years and travelled the world until I moved to Los Angeles in 2008, because obviously recession was a great time to move to a new country! I also arrived around Halloween and was greeted at the Social Security offices by a nurse who directed to the window Number 6 so a witch could hand me my social security number. Welcome to America. I am a painter, a photographer and the creative director of BELLO mag.

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