When you punch Ivy Levan’s name into Google images, a number of different personas will come up. There’s the hipster rock chick, the striking model, and the old selfies from the aspiring MySpace artist. But none of them hold a candle to Ivy’s latest incarnation as The Dame, who falls somewhere between a Frank Miller femme fatale and a retro rockabilly princess.
The blog buzzword for Ivy’s music is “swamp hop” (consider it the new “gangster Nancy Sinatra”), which despite sounding like it was cooked up in a PR lab, is actually the perfect way to describe the 26-year-old’s unique brand of bluesy, backwater hip-pop. On spunky first single, “Hot Damn,” the songstress bellows, “Hot damn! This fool’s tryna stick me for my paper,” her voice packing all the grit of a Southern soul diva while her body remains so glamorously thin it could pass for heroin chic. Both Ivy’s image and sound are so unconventional and contradictory that it’s difficult to pigeonhole either, making her a perfect fit for 2013’s musical landscape where genre mashing is the new normal and anything goes.
Ivy’s currently signed to Cherrytree Records, home of slightly left-field pop stars like Robyn, Natalia Kills, and Willy Moon — the latter of whom she probably shares the most in common with due to their obvious love of the forties and fifties. Her first release on the label, a four-track EP titled Introducing The Dame, comes with a trilogy of music videos detailing her transformation from Jane Dough to noir super diva. The first two clips have been released so far (one for “Hot Damn,” the other for “Money”), and they’re already rapidly gaining views on Youtube thanks to public endorsements from the likes of Adam Lambert and Matt Squire.
Give this skinny broad a fair chance and don’t immediately write her off as yet another vintage songstress like I almost did, and you might just become a fan.