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Story / Jennalynn Fung

Photos / Michelle C., Dillon Matthew

(Photo: Michelle)

Juliet Ivy’s performance at 88rising’s Head in the Clouds in Forest Hills Stadium is something of a homecoming, given that she grew up just a few blocks away from it. “It’s the most full circle thing ever,” she exclaims, her excitement and near-disbelief palpable. “It just feels surreal. I’m just honored to be at a festival that’s full of energy and light and celebrating Asian American artists.” 

Her entire family is in attendance, as are her neighbors, her high school friends, college friends, and music friends. “Everyone’s here. It just feels like the stadium is just so full of love and I’m really happy.” All of her realities have converged at this one moment – to celebrate how far she’s come as an artist. 

Like the cereal in her single “Breakfast Song,” Juliet Ivy’s music career and personal identity are an amalgamation of a lot of different ingredients. Her music has been described as a blend of pop, indie, R&B, and hyper-pop– in other words, it’s a very unique sound. She states that a lot of the music she makes was influenced by living in New York with friends of many different backgrounds. It is “the spirit of embracing everything like it’s mine,” she states proudly. Ivy is of Chinese-Colombian heritage – music from both of these cultures have influenced her, and she occasionally will cover Spanish songs at her shows. “Any time I sing any song in Spanish, I feel really connected to my family. I have yet to sing in Chinese, but I really want to.” 

She’s taken Chinese and Colombian art to heart, and has captured a young audience quickly because of how she embodies both cultures so wholly. These are “two very different things that are equally as me and as authentic to me – I carry that spirit and energy into making music. I feel connected to a lot of different genres.” 

It’s difficult to believe that in spite of her heavily musical upbringing, Juliet Ivy once wasn’t sure if becoming a musician was actually possible. It wasn’t until she studied at the Clive Davis Institute at NYU that she decided to try to turn her dreams into reality. “I didn’t know how to enter the music industry, but it was always my biggest dream. Once I went to a college of music and started learning about how to actually get your foot in this business and in this world, I was fully committed to doing it. I feel so lucky that I am able to do that now.” 

Ivy still remembers the lecture at Clive Davis she attended as a freshman that changed her life. The guest speaker had a presentation with a bottom line of: “do what you want.” The singer, a student at the time, interpreted this message as “doing exactly what you want, making the music that you like, writing about things that you want to write about, not that you think you are supposed to do.” 

(Photo: Dillon Matthew)

Like her lyrics in “we’re all eating each other,” Ivy fully acknowledges the fact that being born happened by chance – and we are more similar to plants than we are gods. Her aim to become someone special, a singer, to validate her childhood fantasies, was something she did instead of inflating her ego in other ways the typical person might: climbing the corporate ladder, kissing up for a raise, driving luxury cars. We’re all going to die – we don’t live forever, so instead of pretending to be super serious, she went after a dream. She decided to do what she liked – what she wanted. 

When she first started writing songs, she was under the impression that there were definitive ways to start and rules she had to follow. Ivy even tried writing love songs because she thought that was what was expected. But as she began listening to her own intuition, she realized she knew which buttons to press and what melodies she wanted to create innately. This was the turning point for her. 

“I started writing about existentialism – life and death and being a human – all of those rabbit hole thoughts. That’s when I was like – my God, this is songwriting to me. And now I just lead with that. I will always just be like, ‘do what you want.’” 

She explains that this is exactly what “Breakfast Song” is about – “how nobody knows what they’re doing, we’re all just pretending, and it’s freeing in a way.” Discovering that writing songs could go beyond the typical romantic serenades ultimately lead to the development and release of her 2023 EP, playpen. What started as a simple passion project – the fulfillment of a childhood dream – ended up surprising her: she hadn’t expected her work to resonate with so many other people. 

“I was so shocked because I was actually not sure if that song would be relatable. It’s so crazy to be like, ‘we’re all going to die and we’re all eating each other.’” She mentions that after increasing her social media presence, Ivy received a lot of messages from people about how it had “cured their fear of death,” gotten them through hard times, or changed their perspective on life. The singer now realizes that life and death is what makes us human, and is the reason her music has been so relatable. 

Another inspiration to her music is all the movement in life that makes it worth living – she mentions one of her favorite pastimes is to people-watch, whether that be on the streets of New York or just scrolling on TikTok, watching what others take interest in. Her observations on the subway were actually a major concept for her first EP. 

She confesses though that she’s not a big book reader. “My ideas come from human interaction and seeing people, and talking to my friends who are so smart.” At a young age, she would also discuss the human brain and behavior with her dad, a psychologist. Her keen observations on humanity as a whole have enabled her to create social media content that consistently goes viral. In December 2023 alone, she grew her following from four digits to six. 

(Photo: Dillon Matthew)

Juliet Ivy’s music stands out in the crowded landscape of contemporary pop and dreamy-bedroom pop due to her eclectic and raw approach. Unlike many mainstream artists who focus on polished, high-production tracks, Ivy blends R&B, hyper pop, and elements from her Chinese and Colombian heritage, creating a unique and deeply personal sound. While dreamy-bedroom pop typically features introspective lyrics and lo-fi production, Ivy sets herself apart by exploring complex emotional landscapes and existential themes, offering a more thought-provoking experience. Her seamless integration of her multicultural background into her music adds a rich, diverse texture that is rarely found in mainstream pop, making her a truly distinctive artist.

In other words, she’s writing and singing about things that previously didn’t have a presence in the music industry. Considering her biracial heritage and ability to fulfill the music industry’s beauty standards, she is bound to be a staple of Gen Z music, and serves as an example of what you can accomplish when you ‘do what you want’. Ivy revealed that her next EP will dive deeply into who she is; it reflects what she loves most about music: how open she can be about herself to others. 

“It’s so fun to bounce back off of humans. I’m really social and I like to be around people. To be around a thousand people is so fun,” she exclaims, off the high of performing in Forest Hills Stadium. “I’ve never been secretive. I really like to talk and share things about myself and open the book. The more I can share, the better.” 

While her open-book approach to sharing her life invites fans into her world – which has majorly spurred her growth – it also encourages morally gray, parasocial relationships. Her willingness to be seen and heard, to soak up the light and wear bright red for every performance poises Ivy to become a significant cultural force, capturing the hearts and minds of a generation seeking authenticity, depth, candidness about despair in their musical icons. 

Considering she is only 23 today, the only thing left to wonder is when she might determine she has done enough of what she’s wanted and overshared  – if she ever feels that way, at all.

(Photo: Michelle)




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