Get To Know: Ivy Lab

Get To Know: Ivy Lab

These ‘Get To Know’ pieces are all about bigging up new artists and giving them a platform to introduce themselves.

Not for this one, though. You already know Ivy Lab. You know them well… it’s Sabre, Stray and Halogenix. Now repping in an exciting new consolidated branded form, they’re following up last year’s essential soully roller Oblique with After Thought. Blessed, once again, with the vocals of Frank Carter III, it’s an exemplary lesson in how to follow up a big single.

We sent the trio some questions to see where they’re at, what we can expect in the future and whether they mind people calling them a supergroup…

Where did the name Ivy Lab come from?

“You brainstorm for months trying to think of something witty, or bold – In the end the most honest decision we could make was to describe what we were : three guys who most of the time, are sat in a basement studio that’s covered in ivy.”

Afterthought is flipping lovely. Was it always your intention to follow up Oblique with Frank Carter III or did it happen nice and organically? 

“When we were producing Afterthought, we had all the makings of a finished track laid out. The missing link was a vocal, and there wasn’t really any debate about who was the best option to contact for help. Frank offers something very unique that hasn’t really existed in our scene before; A song-writer, creating original neo-soul lyrics, in an authentic American-toned soul voice. You can’t leave that untapped.”

Did any of you suffer any self-imposed pressure following up such a big tune like Oblique?

“Not at all it’s quite the opposite – we were relishing the challenge to refine the formula and style we tested out with Oblique, and with Frank on vocals.”

I’d have thought after the power of his presence on Oblique other D&B producers would snap up Frank. Have you kidnapped him and kept him for yourselves? 

“I’m sure people have approached him with offers, but Frank isn’t a total newcomer to the dance music industry -he’s also had dealings with some house labels, and I think he could sense that we’re all fairly chilled out people, with really honest intentions in our vision to work with him – and also that Critical offers a decent, well organised platform.”

Brat on the B-side is quite a contrast to Afterthought. Which one of you led from the front on that?

“No leader as such. Like so many of our tracks, it had started out as a demo that had little resemblance to the current composition. I think with Brat we started with a very lush, deep-house influenced roller that Jay had written with the intention to give to Frank to write vocals too. We ended up twisting everything in project till almost all the elements had either been rejigged or replaced. There was a point where it was also a much much harder track with really chunky beats. It felt a bit too brutal though – perhaps out of character with the rest of what we were making so we reigned it back a bit.”

And which one of you is the biggest brat? 

“Laurence (Halogenix) is a total fucking brat. We’ve lost hundreds of hours of studio time thanks to his frequent and prolonged studio sulks.”

How does it work with you all being self-sufficient in separate studios? Do Ivy Lab tunes get finished on the rare moments you’re all together? Do you have mirrored set-ups so you can bounce projects back and forth to each other? 

“It’s a combination of both. We get together for intense studio sessions for a few weeks or a month at a time when Sabre is in the country, primarily to get a batch developed demos together – and developed is the important word here. They need to be in a state where one person can go off and do the bulk of the arrangement without having to add too many more channels / layers. Then I guess there are just final amendments where we all chip in and pass projects between us. Afterthought got bounced back and forth between London and Bangkok maybe 6 – 7 times before we were happy with it.”

Let’s chat future releases… What have you got coming up?

“We’re going to be working a lot with Critical going forward, our next hook-up should be an E.P dropping in the summertime. There’s a project with Metalheadz being floated, we just need to get the music completed. Priority number 1 is simply to build up a decent cache of music before we go about picking which tracks are strong enough to release. I guess thats one of the strengths of being in a collective where every member is self-sufficient, we can work on tracks in three different studios at the same time.

Wicked. So…. Can we call you a supergroup or what? 

“We prefer boyband. We do choreography. It’s mostly Sabre’s department. He moves with majestic elegance, and puma-like suppleness. Our style is something like Dutty-Wine meets Swan Lake. High in arrogant sexual energy, but often tempered by stark moments of delicate fragility.”


Afterthought is out now on Critical
Listen and download 



Drum&BassArena Editor: Dave Jenkins has documented beats for over 15 years working with the likes of UKF, Mixmag, DJ Mag, iDJ, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor, Radio 1 Xtra and many more.