By Luke Voogt
Geelong born-and-bred artist Annika Schmarsel, better known as Alice Ivy, has released her latest album Don’t Sleep after completing production during lockdown.
“I’ve been by the phone – it’s been pinging all morning!” the 27-year-old Melbourne-based producer said last Friday morning as the album dropped.
“I’ve been working on this record for about two-and-a-half years between tours and on writing trips.
“I literally got the last mix back just as we went into lockdown. Putting out a record during this time is very strange.
“It’s pretty much been how to shoot music videos and do press shots during lockdown and dealing with all the hurdles that COVID-19 throws at you.”
The album includes a diverse range of voices and some previously released singles such as namesake track Don’t Sleep, In My Mind, Sunrise and Better Man.
Schmarsel filmed the video for Better Man with an “absolute skeleton crew” a few weeks ago while stuck in home suburb Coburg.
“That video was my favourite, which I think is amazing because we were in lockdown,” she said.
The clip features former Triple J presenter Alex Dyson interpretive dancing through corridors.
Schmarsel met Dyson when she won the station’s Unearthed competition and later, they both started Zumba classes last year with Brisbane muso Grace Shaw, aka Mallrat.
“We just decided to start going to classes at 9am on Monday morning,” she laughed.
Schmarsel’s musical journey began at age 11 when she journeyed to ancestral home Germany, and her uncle taught her to play Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water.
“He also taught me how to add drum and bass samples – it was my first introduction into really basic recording,” she said.
She spent her teen years playing in Matthew Flinders’ school band the Sweethearts.
“My time in that band playing soul and Motown has definitely had an influence on my production today,” she said.
“If you put on soul music at a party it goes off, everybody wants to dance and it just brings a really great vibe.”
She got into producing when a lecturer showed her the basics of sampling during her music course at RMIT.
“I immediately became hooked because we sampled these big sounds and I kind of realised I could make all this music on my laptop.”
She was “just starting to make beats” when she filled in for a band at a uni gig at a Melbourne pub.
One show led to another, and in 2015 Schmarsel released her first single, before winning Unearthed the next year and going on to tour Australia and Europe.
Now she is busy at home writing and teaching newly-adopted Cocker Spaniel Kewpie, named after the Japanese mayonnaise, to drop.
“And she can do that so I’m doing OK,” she said, as Kewpie barked in the background.
“It’s going to be weird when life returns to normal because the dog will be so used to having us at home.”
She has also played a few live-streamed shows during the pandemic.
“I did a live stream from my parents’ backyard in East Geelong about a month ago, and had a couple of Aperol Spritzers with mum,” she said.
“It definitely feels lonely, especially when you have to stop and talk between songs, that’s probably the weirdest part.”
She said she had matured as a producer and described Don’t Sleep as more “sophisticated” than her debut album.
“I feel like this record is a lot bigger, a lot more real,” she said.
“I really hope that it moves you as much as it moves me.”
More information: www.aliceivymusic.net