INTERVIEW – Ivory – Edinburgh-based acoustic band

Ivory are a three-piece acoustic band from Edinburgh featuring Katie Robertson on vocals, Mike Evans on guitar and Paul Murphy on bass. I interviewed them prior to their gig at Whistle Binkies on 22nd October.

Vocalist with Ivory

Katie Robertson, vocalist with Ivory

Ivory have been together for around a year. Paul and Katie had played in a band before, but it had got too large and drifted from what they wanted to do most – play their own brand of mellow acoustic music, with their own unique take on versions of songs that people wouldn’t expect to be played in such a style. After branching out on their own, they recruited guitarist Mike Evans, through a mutual acquaintance and a common interest (with Paul) in motorbikes.

Through playing live at every opportunity and constant rehearsing & recording in Katie’s bedroom and at The Depot in Granton, Ivory are gaining confidence in their material and live sound. They shape their set based on crowd reaction, often finding that songs they themselves think won’t go down that well get the biggest and most positive response.

They’ve certainly earned their gigging stripes since forming, with gigs all over Edinburgh and the Lothians. Their favourite venue to date is where I saw them – Whistle Binkies – where they love the atmosphere and the space: a venue that Katie believes is perfect to allow her voice room to be heard.

Guitarist with Ivory

Mike Evans, guitarist with Ivory

Ivory are now keen to concentrate on their own material and have an ambition to write enough songs to create a full set of their own compositions. Until then, they’re keen to play live at every opportunity.

They love the Edinburgh music scene for its positivity and variety. Paul explained that there is a large audience for Ivory’s kind of music, and an increased number of venues available for them to play it in. Mike also went on to say he liked the compact nature of the city, especially compared to somewhere like London, where he’s played and gigged before. Here, it’s easy to fit seeing a band into a night out: elsewhere, going to a gig and getting home again can take up the whole evening.

Their one wish for the Edinburgh scene was that the crowds loosened up a bit. Edinburgh still has that reserved attitude according to Paul, and he’s looking forward to taking Ivory’s music out to the likes of Glasgow to see how things compare. That said, the number of bands, contacts and venues here in Edinburgh is still hard to beat, and Ivory have no plans to uproot themselves.

Bassist with Ivory

Paul Murphy, bassist with Ivory

Live, Ivory do indeed live up to their promise of covering songs in a style you might not first expect. Evans and Murphy sit either side of the stage, with Robertson standing between them, with an air of frailty and vulnerability. That fragility is lost as soon as the music starts however, and her voice is pure and rich with an impressive range.

Their set begins with some ‘traditional’, country-tinged music and numbers before moving into far more confident and impressive territory. Evans and Murphy create a tight, rhythmic sound behind Robertson, allowing her to take on the likes of Green Day, Radiohead and Depeche Mode (Personal Jesus was a set highlight for me) and emerge unscathed and emboldened on the other side.

During numbers like Bronski Beat’s Small Time Boy, Ivory’s acoustic emulation of such synth-heavy numbers is extremely effective; and the crowd at WB’s obviously thought the same, as each number in Ivory’s enjoyable set seemed to draw a greater and more enthusiastic response.

On the basis of this gig, I’m certainly keen to see where the band go next and I look forward to their original material with anticipation.

Check out Ivory on MySpace.

Ivory photo gallery

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