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[IVY]’s pushes the boundariesof a unique blend of modern drum n’ bass and techno

Jasmin Bernard, aka [IVY] – her genre-blending artist moniker, is finishing an incredible, fast-paced summer season. The relative newcomer to the drum n’ bass scene has been setting fields alight across the UK this summer, with performances at the likes of the Spectrum 360 stage at Boomtown in August, Hospitality in the Woods and Rumble in the Jungle. Not only this but [IVY] has been named by BBC Radio 1 as one of their “Essential Artists for 2023” and has seen heavy airplay across recent months. “It’s been quite busy and everything has kind of been blowing up at the same time,” [IVY] says, “so it’s been a lot to manage. But it’s been great. So exciting – a bit stressful but definitely exciting. I’m not going to complain.” [IVY] has seen two singles brought out on Sony – ‘Close To Me’ and ‘Looking 4 Me’, the latter released at the end of summer. Across Radio 1 and stages across the UK, [IVY] has introduced her unique blend of modern drum n’ bass and high-energy techno to the masses, but has an even bigger mission.

Hailing from Bristol, [IVY] originally grew up in Brittany, France. “It was very rural,” she tells me. “It was a quaint little town. Those coach loads of old people going to visit and they do the tours through the little towns. So there wasn’t that much to do.” It was here that she grew a passion for hard dance and techno, amongst others. “I guess I didn’t really like school that much – I kind of fled from that. [I] just ran towards the raves, so for me that was my escape. I started going when I was fourteen and I went every weekend – I was just waiting for the next rave, every weekend. I started saving up all of my money to go to festivals in the Netherlands [for] hard dance festivals. They were massive productions with huge stages and they were amazing. I was saving up enough money to drive across the country; it was a 12 hour drive from where I lived to Amsterdam. Just going back and forth and spending all my pocket money going there. I loved it so much.” It wasn’t until [IVY] moved to Bristol that this passion grew into a potential career, with the opportunity to discover her own sound. “It was truly by chance – I didn’t know that [Bristol] was the hub of underground music in the UK. I got drawn into the underground scene in Bristol and through that started mixing and DJing at University. After I started DJing clubs I started getting into music production which is drum n’ bass because Bristol is fully drum n’ bass focused. I started making drum n’ bass and then I saw that there is a four-four thing happening in drum n’ bass – it’s kind of like mixing techno and drum n’ bass, it’s something that’s trending and something that’s happening at the moment and I saw that, that was happening. That kind of brought back all of my roots of the hard dance and the techno stuff and I thought it was perfect for me because I could merge my new love for drum n’ bass that I found in the UK and the music that I had growing up and combine them into one. That’s kind of what’s become my sound today.” 

This unique combination of genres or genre-merging, is how [IVY] has followed her passions across genres and with unique effect. The hard-techno-infused drum n’ bass sound has been injected into a brand new single, named ‘Looking 4 Me’. It’s the second release under Sony, after a highly successful ‘Close To Me’ found the airwaves at the start of summer. Speaking about ‘Close To Me’, [IVY] notes, “I was quite nervous releasing something like that on a major label because it doesn’t usually come out on major labels. But the reception was so good and people have been loving it. I just keep seeing clips of people playing it out of festivals and people messaging me about it.” ‘Looking 4 Me’ looks to continue [IVY]’s mission of pushing her own musical boundaries. “[My creative direction is] genre-merging and pushing boundaries. I come from the drum n’ bass scene, drum n’ bass hasn’t changed much in the last twenty years and I don’t think people want it to change. I guess my mission is pushing the boundaries of drum n’ bass and it’s quite a hard scene to get into and a hard scene to stay in. Because anything different kind of gets shunned, but my goal is to push through that. I want to push a different sound and I want to push something I haven’t heard before and isn’t out there yet.” 

Lyrically the just over two-minute single opens up to vocals that are distorted, similar to being underwater – kept as the bridge of the song throughout. But as soon as the beat kicks in, the song’s drum n’ bass lines punctuate a clearer set of lyrics. Creating the song, [IVY] notes that the lyrics from Ria Leah and Ill Blu “got shown to me but as soon as I heard them I was like, ‘yes, this is sick. This is the perfect vibe to go with my techno-inspired song.’ So I snapped them up straight away.” Speaking about the two singles, [IVY] adds, “I think they’re both heavily techno-inspired. [What] I do is that I set out to make a drum n’ bass song but then all the samples that I use will be techno samples. So I’ll go and sample a lot of old school techno, look through techno sample packs and use techno processes to make my sound, while making mostly a drum n’ bass track. I feel like that is my process, or if I merge house and drum n’ bass, it will mostly be a drum n’ bass song but made out of exclusively house samples and house vocals and all of that. That’s the process I use for my genre-merging.” 

The genre-merging has been of key interest to listeners, so much so that [IVY] has set up a Patreon to help others learn how it’s made. “Getting into production and the underground music scene is daunting. It’s really, really hard to do because it’s so saturated – there’s so much competition and also there’s so much information out there. You get overwhelmed when you sit down and learn to produce. I think it helps seeing someone’s perspective on it and seeing someone’s creative process because there’s just so much information out there and a lot of it is not great and it’s so hard to find your way through it.” Using the Patreon platform, [IVY] plans to showcase how-to videos, something that she’s been launching across social media too. “[I] do just try and want to help. I haven’t been in the scene for long and I haven’t been producing for that long, but a lot of people ask me how I make [my sound]. It’s quite new and there aren’t really that many tutorials out there and there’s that much information. So even though I am quite new, I’m more than happy to share what I know.”

“There’s loads of tutorials on how to make techno, there’s loads of tutorials on how to make drum n’ bass but there’s no tutorials on how to make techno-drum-n’-bass, I guess. [Laughs] So people want to see it and I’m more than happy to help anyone who wants to learn. I’m of the opinion that I want other people to make my sound as well, because the more people who are making similar stuff to me the bigger the sound will get and it will just help everyone.” During the summer [IVY] has brought her techno-drum-n’-bass sound to stages across the UK. Speaking about the tour, she tells me, “I never even thought that I’d ever even get a set to play in front of ten people let alone like a thousand people, or playing at all these festivals like Boomtown. I played at Boomtown a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been going to Boomtown for about five years. Never ever would I have thought that I would ever be booked to play there, let alone have two sets that were completely rammed. I think my set at Boomtown was kind of the pinnacle of my music career so far, [it] was a real high point for me and the thrill I felt up there and entertaining all those people – it was just amazing and that’s what really fuels my passion and [helps] pushing through all the stress.” 

Playing ‘Looking 4 Me’ live has seen [IVY] take her sound to the limit. “I made it at 160 bpm and all my sets are 175, so the only way I could play it was to speed it up loads. Either slow the whole set down or I speed it up and I’m always in favour of speeding stuff up because I love the sped-up effect. So it goes right up. I really like taking old-school classics from either the 90’s or the early 2000’s era and trying to merge them in with modern drum n’ bass sounds or modern songs that are out there. I’ll layer vocals from old school dance tracks over new drum n’ bass tracks and also take an old 2000’s dance song that’s 120 bpm, I’ll speed it up to 170 bpm and it just goes turbo-house I guess. People love it. I love doing fun things – I want my sets to be fun. I want my sets to just make people happy.” 

[IVY] is also the owner of Jazzy Garms, a handmade rave clothing company. “I think Jazzy Garms reflects my creative process in music, because when I started Jazzy Garms I looked at the market and I was just like, ‘what isn’t out there yet? How can I push boundaries with these clothes and have this reflect my personality of being quite alternative?’ I never want to make things that already exist – I want to push something unique with my designs and kind of find my own space within the fashion industry. I guess I did the same with my music – ‘What isn’t out there yet? What do I want to hear?’” Her fashion brand coupled with her unique blend of genres plays host to a niche, focused audience. “I think I’ve started to create my own niche with music; I’ve started to create my own fanbase that really likes what I do. I think I really am kind of growing some kind of niche out of it, at least I’m trying to.” One of her latest fashion collections, ‘Neotribe’ drives forward the visual narrative of her latest track. “People call it the neotribal movement, so I took that and put that on reflective clothing,” she tells me. “It kind of symbolises ‘Looking 4 Me’ because it has that old school flare from the 2000’s, being brought back to 2023 in a new neo-packaged turbo song. It’s the same thing – the tribal prints have been turbo’d by being [added] into reflective rave clothing and ‘Looking 4 Me’ has been turbo’d by being sped up and turned into turbo-techno.” 

Having emerged from a victorious summer, [IVY] and her genre blending sounds will be touring the UK this Autumn and is also preparing a brand new EP. “I’ve just been booked for Drumsheds. They’ve opened a 15,000 cap warehouse in an old IKEA and I’m playing the first drum n’ bass show there – that’ll be crazy. [It] means so much to me that I’m able to push my different sound on such a huge platform. I would have always expected to – with my underground sound – having to stay in the underground, stay in the small clubs and not really rise above the surface. But it’s just been absolutely amazing being able to stay true to my sounds [and] not having to change. This is me and it hasn’t been edited at all and being able to push it to such a huge audience on such a big platform is amazing, and I’m so thankful for that.” 

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