Being an artist these days is deceivingly difficult. You’ll need excessive drive and the ability to find a few extra hours in every day if you’re going to sustain a presence in the music industry. With a to-do list as long as Elon Musk’s, these are two things that Jevon Ives doesn’t shy away from.
Initially cutting his teeth in the drum and bass world under his Transparent alias, Ives has gone on to explore styles beyond 170 BPM. His singer-songwriter output under his own name, recently on his own MOOD imprint, has seen him experiment with what can be achieved with a microphone and a knack for production.
Other projects include De-Tu, a collaborative weighty dubstep alias with Chris Iona (AKA C-Side) of the Green King Cuts soundsystem that’s attracted worldwide attention, reaching some of the finest labels in the 140 sphere. Then there’s Tubby Isiah, a reggae and dub project with his father that’s arguably his most special work. Finally there’s Ethos, where he collaborates with one half of Mystic State to provide a fresh and innovative approach towards jungle and drum and bass.
With his first musical memory being singing along to the Lion King soundtrack, his upbringing gave Jevon an emotional connection to music from a young age. “Everytime a song came on [in The Lion King], I used to ball my eyes out. My mum explained the difference between major and minor scales, how they can give you certain feelings. That’s when I started to understand how music can affect the way you feel.”
His introduction to electronic music came through his dad who was involved in the free party movement in the 80s and 90s. At the age of 16, Jevon began to connect the dots between their musical tastes.
“My dad pulled out some vinyl which turned out to be similar to what I was listening to,” Jevon explains. “So he ended up teaching me how to DJ. I’ve got some sort of natural rhythm inside me so I picked it up quickly. I then thought, ‘How do people make this?’ I knew there were bands, but this music wasn’t made by bands, it was more technical.”
Ives’ interest in music was elevated after being shown the ropes on Reason and only two years later after grafting away in his bedroom studio, he secured his first release before imminently signing another to Flexout Audio. “I picked [production] up quickly and it has taken over my life since. I had my first release when I was around 18 and I thought it was mad that people were sending me contracts. It was so new. It was destined to happen though, it’s such a deep-rooted passion for me. I’m happy to stick at it for hours and hours.”
With his variety and quantity of musical output, it’s a wonder how 24 hours in a day is enough for him. As he drops his new Worldies single on MOOD, we caught up with Jevon to understand more about his work under each of his aliases.
The self-named Jevon Ives work sees flavours ranging from R&B and jazz to afrobeat and drill, as he shows off his abilities with the mic as well as on the production. Despite writing lyrics and poetry since The Lion King days, it took a while before he had enough faith in himself to share something so personal with the world. “The first track I ever recorded was So Slow with Astrid. Since that got such a good response and I sang with someone who I admire, it gave me the confidence to keep going with the singing and writing.”
Unveiled to the world in 2017, Ives’ debut album Worship The Sun has something for everyone’s tastes and is brimming with exciting collaborations. Shortly after its release, he went on to set up his label, MOOD, as he brought everything in-house and took on more responsibility. “In between albums, I didn’t want to rely on anyone else to release my music. If anything goes wrong with a release, I only have myself to blame.”
Only three years later, we saw Worship the Moon hit the shelves. “I make so much music that the albums weren’t planned. None of the tracks were written to be released together so I thought the album titles could link them to each other. But also, I just love the sun and the moon. In Bristol there’s a lot of unique music, fusions of things like jazz, dub, afrobeat. You go out, listen to it and think “This all fits together. Why can’t I do this with my music too?””
Three years after recording his first track, he took the plunge to perform his first live show and in October 2021 he’ll be supporting The Mouse Outfit on their UK tour. “I’ve done two shows with a band who are a group of mates that are sick at playing instruments, and usually I want to play with them. We can look at each other and vibe out. When you’re on your own with a PA, it’s different. You can get better energy because of the production of my tracks, so it really depends on the crowd and venue.”
His latest single, Worldies, has just been released on MOOD and signals the start of his plans to unveil his music to the world more consistently.
Going from releasing on Chris C-Side’s own Green King Cuts imprint in 2016 to their outrageous Koshi EP on White Peach less than two years later, De-Tu’s less-is-more approach to music (sonically and in terms of output) has caught the attention of the dubstep world.
“Chris and I met each other through going to Cable and we started De-Tu around five years ago,” Jevon explains. “Jevon Ives is the alias that I put my heart and soul into but it gets the least reach [laughs]. When the De-Tu numbers started going up, I was so overwhelmed. We keep it illusive and don’t release a huge amount. We could easily release an EP every week if we wanted to, but we’re keeping the mystery going.”
Both Jevon and Chris work to their strengths in the studio. The fusion of weighty soundsystem precision and immaculate rhythms, occasionally topped off by Ives’ sinister vocals, brings a sound that is difficult to imitate. “Chris focuses on the engineering and I work more on the musicality side of things,” Ives explains. “Together it’s a healthy balance. I’ve been in the studio with people who are as creative as me and we can clash. But Chris and I have our strengths and it works really well.”
Working from the Green King Cuts studio, the creative and community spirit in Bristol’s underground music scene is thriving. “It’s our main spot, a space where we can go to chill with each other. Listen to and make some music. Our first release was on the Green King dubplate series so we kept it within the family. There was no digital version of it, so that created a mad buzz.”
Next up from the duo, you can expect a single on Infernal Sounds in late summer before a monstrous EP on Innamind coming in winter.
It’s not often you see families coming together to make art but when you do, it’s almost always special. As his early years were spent focusing on making D&B, Jevon recalls receiving production tips from his dad. Despite shrugging off his creative suggestions, they eventually began to find a flow in the studio.
“He’d be making dinner and listening to me making music upstairs, then he’d come in and have suggestions,” Jevon tells us. “That’s still the dynamic of our production now. It takes my dad like an hour to write a text so he’s not going to have much luck with Ableton [laughs]. We were saying that we should make a reggae tune and ended up starting an alias.”
“It’s magical. Sometimes I take it for granted but all it takes is for someone to be like, ‘You know this is mad?’ He got me into music and now I feel like I’m repaying him. I’m not from the richest area so a lot of my friends either have a shit relationship with their dad, or don’t have one. Here I am doing something that fulfils me and makes him feel good but when you get past all of that, the final product is so much more than anything I could create on my own. For me to have the Tubby Isiah project is crazy.”
After building up an extensive bank of music, Jevon sent them to Moonshine Recordings who immediately proposed to release them all as an album. “I was shocked and told my dad but he didn’t believe me,” smiles Ives. “We’ve had interest in our music in the past but people have flaked out. I don’t take it to heart when something doesn’t pull through because I know there are other options and it’s how the music industry works. But it’s more difficult for dad as he hasn’t experienced much of that yet, so he didn’t believe the album was happening until the vinyl came through the door.”
Next up, Tubby Isiah will have a track on the label that released their album, Moonshine Recordings, as part of a various artists compilation in good company with other dub and dub techno artists.
With an abundance of creativity in the city, Bristol seems to not only breed arguably the finest art in the country, it also encourages collaboration. Despite only having five released tracks under their belt, the Ethos project (consisting of Ives and Mike Holliday, one half of Mystic State) is one that oozes masses of quality.
“When I moved to Bristol, Mike and I were living together,” says Ivys. “We started making tunes when we were getting a bit sick of drum and bass, so we made some 160ish tunes. We started the alias before we got busy with our other projects. When we find time to make tunes, it’s great. We get into the studio when we can and don’t put any pressure on it. That’s when the beauty happens.”
Expect the next Ethos release to appear on Mystic State’s Chikara Project later in the year.
Last but not least is where it all started. Jevon’s focus on dnb with his Transparent alias was his first taste of musical success, with releases on Flexout, Proximity and Halogen. However, as his other projects grew along with his taste, his drum and bass productions got pushed onto the back burner.
Despite being occupied with his other aliases, he came back with a melodic but percussively tough drum and bass release on the Chikara Project in 2019. “I went through a little phase of making rollers again a couple of years ago and realised that I missed it,” says Ives. “It used to be my bread and butter. It’s nostalgic for me so I wrote a three-track EP but then didn’t do anything else [laughs]. It’s the beauty of making different genres under different aliases. If I go through a phase of wanting to make drum and bass, I know there’s a home for it. I can’t say when the next Transparent release is coming, but it’s definitely still alive.”