Ivy is an American indie pop band composed of a trio of musicians, Adam Schlesinger, Dominique Durand, and Andy Chase.
Lately and Realistic:
Ivy was formed in 1994 when multi-instrumentalists Andy Chase and Adam Schlesinger convinced Parisian born Dominique Durand, who had never before sung in a group, to venture into a New York studio and record a four-song tape with them. Dominique, who moved to New York City from Paris in 1990, first met Andy at a party, where he was playing with his previous band. She told him that his band was "not her cup of tea". Three years later, Andy and Dominique wrote a song, and asked Adam to play bass on demo. Adam persuaded Andy and Dominique to write more together, which eventually resulted in a five-song demo.
One of the first songs they recorded, "Get Enough", was released as a 7"-single and was quickly named "Single Of The Week" in the UK's Melody Maker.
They followed that single with an EP Lately (released on Seed), and then on February 14, 1995 released their debut full-length Realistic, which - although raw compared to their later work - hinted at the melodic sophistication and emphasis on production detail that would follow. During this period the group began touring, sharing the stage with Oasis, Edwyn Collins, Lloyd Cole, St. Etienne, Madder Rose, Yo La Tengo, The Divine Comedy and many others.
The band also produced and released the I Hate December remix CD. The black-and-white video featuring the band lip-synching playing in the bar was produced for both original and remixed edits of the song. It remains the only Ivy release on Scratchie Records, the label belonging to The Smashing Pumpkins' members James Iha and D'arcy Wretzky and co-owned by Adam Schlesinger.
On their second full-length album, Apartment Life (released October 6, 1997 on Atlantic), Ivy hit its stride, introducing richer arrangements and a wider palette of sounds, while at the same time taking their songcraft to a new level. The album was named one of the year's best by scores of critics, and the group's fan base increased exponentially; they toured extensively in support of the new record over the next two years.
James Iha of The Smashing Pumpkins appeared as a guest vocalist and guitarist on "Back In Our Town", and as a guitarist on "Quick, Painless & Easy". He is known as being a fan of Ivy and being a friend with Adam, as well with other bandmates. Adam played piano on James' song "The Bells" released on The Smashing Pumpkins' "Thirty-Three" single, and also contributed to Iha's own solo album "Let It Come Down". Iha thanked Ivy in the liner notes of Let It Come Down. It is rumoured that James Iha helped the band get signed on Atlantic, and since Apartment Life he has appeared on every release, contributing or producing at least one track on each.
Other session and guest musicians included Dean Wareham (Luna), Stanley Demeski (Luna, Feelies); Chris Collingwood and Jody Porter (Fountains of Wayne); Alan Rubin (played trumpet in The Blues Brothers and many others, including his support for Miles Davis, James Brown and others).
Apartment Life spawned Ivy's first official CD single with the release of "The Best Thing", followed by "I've Got a Feeling" and the EPs "This Is the Day" and "You Don't Know Anything". "I've Got a Feeling" also has a promotional video.
The album was re-released the next year on October 7, 1998 on 550 Music when the band was dropped by Atlantic. The re-release featured a different artwork (Dominique's photo which had been on the inside is now on the cover, with shelves deleted), and different mixes of "The Best Thing" (mixed by Daniel Abraham), "I've Got a Feeling" (mixed by John Holbrook), "This Is the Day" (mixed by John Holbrook) and "Back In Our Town" (mixed by John Holbrook).
Additionally, the songs "This Is the Day" and "I Get the Message" were selected for the soundtrack of the hit motion picture There's Something About Mary.
Long Distance, their third LP, was released on July 10, 2001 on Nettwerk, and won the group an even wider audience both at home and abroad. The album was released on November 8, 2000 in Japan, which is seven months prior to US release, and included one bonus track "It's All in Your Mind". The US version included bonus track "Digging Your Scene", a cover of Blow Monkeys' song.
On Long Distance, lush soundscapes and dense rhythm tracks were brought to the fore, and bouncy pop songs were outnumbered by moodier, more atmospheric songs like the standout single "Edge Of The Ocean". The latter along with "Lucy Doesn't Love You" got both videos and single releases.
By this time, the band had also had found success on both the big and small screens (scoring the Farrelly Brothers' Shallow Hal, as well as having their songs featured prominently in numerous films and television shows). Chase and Schlesinger had also begun to receive attention for their work outside the band: Chase produced the debut album by French pop group Tahiti 80, which was a hit in many countries and led to subsequent production work with several other groups; Schlesinger's "other" band, Fountains of Wayne, released two critically acclaimed records, and he also received an Oscar nomination for his title song to Tom Hanks' film That Thing You Do!.
Ivy released the Guestroom album on September 10, 2002 on Minty Fresh, an album containing ten of the group's favorite cover songs. Picking from several different eras, they reveal some of their sources of inspiration, and also display their ability to reinterpret many different types of songs in their own distinct way. Five of the ten songs on Guestroom were recorded during one solid line of sessions in New York. The remaining five tracks were recorded at different times over the course of Ivy's career, but have for the most part been difficult to find, having been released only on limited-edition singles, compilations, or soundtracks. On Guestroom, the band moves easily between decades and countries, jumping from 80's classics like The Cure's "Let's Go to Bed" and the House Of Love's "I Don't Know Why I Love You" to Steely Dan's "Only a Fool Would Say That" and then over to Serge Gainsbourg's "L'Anamour" (which previously could be found as a b-side on "I've Got a Feeling" single); from The Ronettes' early 1960s classic "Be My Baby" to Papas Fritas' late 1990s gem "Say Goodbye".
"Digging Your Scene" was also included on the album, and released in Japan and UK as a CD single. Video for "Let's Go to Bed" has been shot, depicting Dominique and Andy in their NYC apartment, with Dominique not being able to sleep. She escapes home long after midnight and walks streets of New York City. James Iha joins her midthrough the video.
The Lately EP was reissued in 2003 on Unfiltered Records with the same track-list as original.
Ivy gained even wider recognition in 2003/2004 for their song "Worry About You" which has been used as the theme song of the Stephen King series Kingdom Hospital and in the pilot episode of the television mini-series The 4400.
In the Clear:
In the Clear was released on March 1, 2005 on Nettwerk.
When starting sessions for In The Clear, the band tried to strike a balance between the immediacy of their early recordings and the careful sonic detailing of their more recent work. "Initially we talked about going back to more of a live band sound," explains Schlesinger, "but of course that wouldn't have taken long enough."
Chase elaborates, "We tried to capture the excitement of just playing together - on guitar or piano and drums - first. We would put down lots of raw, spontaneous ideas, and then the three of us would flesh them out over time, constantly adding or taking things away, but always trying to retain that initial energy." This method, while common for some bands, represented a totally new approach for Ivy, who in the past had written almost exclusively outside the studio; on In The Clear, the writing and recording processes often blended together.
Not every idea held up over time, or ultimately met Ivy's songwriting standards. "There were some musical ideas that we really loved, but sometimes they didn't fit the direction we were going or we couldn't turn them into complete songs that I was comfortable singing," says Durand. "But many came together very quickly".
The 10 songs on In The Clear vary in tempo and mood, and yet the record has a sense of continuity that is never lost - from the slow crescendo of the introductory "Nothing But The Sky" through visceral pop songs like "Thinking About You", "Tess Don't Tell" (with James Iha on lead guitar) and "I've Got You Memorized" to slinkier, subtler tracks like "Four In The Morning", "Ocean City Girl" and "Keep Moving". Many lyrics suggest internal narratives more than straightforward storytelling; themes of secrecy, isolation and escape resurface throughout the album.
Ivy brought in legendary UK producer/mixer Steve Osborne (New Order, Happy Mondays, Starsailor, Elbow) for his first-ever New York sessions to mix seven of the tracks. It was Osborne's ability to make records sound both aggressive and spacious that attracted the group to his work.
In The Clear also features guest appearances by friends like guitarists James Iha, Jody Porter (Fountains of Wayne), Brazilian string arranger Zé Luis (Bebel Gilberto, Caetano Veloso), and former Girls Against Boys frontman Scott McLoud, who duets with Durand on the closing track "Feel So Free".
The album got even more warm reception than previous. "Thinking About You" got an animated promotional video clip, and it remains Ivy's second-most popular song.
All Hours was released on September 20, 2011. The first single from the album, "Distant Lights," was released on June 7, 2011, and the second single, "Fascinated," was released on July 26, 2011.
Ivy cite The Go-Betweens, Burt Bacharach, Jobim, Orange Juice, The Smiths, Velvet Underground & Nico, The Beatles, and Françoise Hardy as their influences, as well as other artists covered on Guestroom.
Dominique Durand's vocal technique and Parisian pronunciation is often compared in reviews with another French pop band singer Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab.
Schlesinger is also in the band Fountains of Wayne and Tinted Windows. Durand and Chase have also recorded as Paco. Chase's solo project, called Brookville, has released three albums to date.