Interview with Ivofonic

With 2023 coming to a close, we wanted to finish the year with something close to home. So we had this wonderful chat with Ivofonic, a musician and producer based in Melbourne, Australia! Born in Italy, Ivano embarked on his musical journey at the tender age of 12 when he picked up his first guitar. His passion for music led him to obtain a Diploma in Sound Engineering and a Bachelor’s Degree in ‘Multimedia and Audiovisual Communication’ from the University of Ferrara, Italy.

Tell us more about your musical background? How long have you been recording for, and what inspired you to start producing your own music?

Music has been a constant in my life. It all began at the tender age of 12, at the beginning of the Grunge wave and 90’s rock when I picked up a guitar to learn and play many of those tunes coming from bands like Sonic Youth, SoundGarden, Faith No More and Smashing Pumpkins to name a few. Those chords and riffs weren’t just notes to me, they were my first language of self-expression. But then, the electronic reverberations of The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, and Massive Attack echoed through my world, pulling me into the realm of electronic music.

If I go even earlier than that, my childhood was scored by the timeless tracks of The Beatles, a gift from my father who was a sick fan of the four from Liverpool, who had a vast record collection. Those album art covers weren’t just gateways to the music—they were windows into vast, imaginative worlds.

My post-high school years saw me diving into the heart of music, armed with a Diploma in Sound Engineering and a spirit that yearned to live off the adrenaline of live gigs. I spent my twenties playing in bands, honing my craft, trying to capture that dream of a life sustained by chords and melodies while study a bachelor degree in Multimedia and Audio/visual Communication.

Life’s rhythm then changed, and in 2008, I found myself in Australia, a break I needed to reflect on where I was at in life and what’s next. First was Sydney were I met some beautiful people and built special friendships, and it was also a time of introspection, where the guitar gathered dust, and the part of me that thrived on producing and releasing music dozed quietly. But it wasn’t silent, it was waiting.

Then, in 2016 Melbourne happened. The city’s amazing music vibe and pulsating underground scene reignited that dormant part of me. I found my rhythm again, playing gigs and producing as part of an electronic duo named Lunakrome. Yet, a solo act was a dream that played on loop in my mind since the very beginning, waiting for the right moment to take the stage.

The world paused with the onset of Covid, but in the quiet, Ivofonic was born—a project that isn’t just a name, but a symphony of all I’ve loved, learned, and lived in music. It’s been a journey of evolution, from grunge to electronic, from Italy to Melbourne, and it’s a journey that still thrums with the excitement of more to come.

Since beginning to release your own albums, what has changed for you along the way in terms of approaches to music-writing, gear, or finding inspiration and themes for new work?

Great question! I have often been reflecting on how my process has transformed in writing and producing music. For years, my creativity was constrained by the weight of others opinions. I was constantly hitting the brakes on my own expression, worried about not being good enough. It was a silent battle with self-doubt that suffocated the music within. But with time – perhaps as a perk of getting older – and the encouragement of some incredible souls I’ve met along the way, I’ve broken free from that mental constraint. Composing now feels like flying; it’s an utterly fulfilling venture. I’ve reached a point where the quality of my music is not for me to judge. It’s out there for the audience to experience, and as long as it resonates with me, that’s all the validation I need.

Then there’s the gear. Back in the days I used to believe that more is better. I’ve invested heaps into equipment, thinking it would elevate my music. But I’ve learned that gear doesn’t create music; it’s merely a set of tools. A voice or a single percussion can lay down a track that’s as compelling as any. The essence of beautiful music isn’t in high-end technology; it’s in the story it tells. It’s about crafting a sonic journey that captures the heart and imagination of the listener.

While today’s music seems to be drifting in the sea of endless technological advancements, I believe it will circle back to its storytelling soul. Having said that, I don’t deny it’s always very exciting when you add a new instrument into your set up or to experiment with new VST plug-ins.

As for inspiration, it’s everything that surrounds me, from large-scale transformation in society to the routine of everyday life and how these events resonate within me. Every piece of my music is a reflection, a story filtered through my perspective, my unique interpretation of the world. Because, at the end of the day, life is an infinite well of inspiration, and we’re all unique narrators with our own unique story to tell.

Your latest release “Glimpses” comes across very much as being a concept album. Was this something that just happened naturally during the process of recording? Or did you have a theme and story in-mind for it from the very beginning?

Glimpses was definitely planned out with a specific idea in mind. I’ve always been really into stuff like physics, astronomy, cosmolology and thinking about the universe and our place in it. One night in Melbourne, during winter in 2022, I was looking up at the clear sky and the stars. It hit me how short our lives are compared to the universe. It’s like we’re just a quick flash in the grand scheme of things.

This thought inspired “Glimpses.” I wanted each song in the album to capture a small part of something much bigger, like snapshots of different things. But I also wanted all the songs to connect to each other, kind of like those Russian nesting dolls where each one fits inside the other.

Whenever I make music, I need a main idea to kickstart my creativity. Having this big concept about the universe and our tiny part in it really helped me shape this album. So, “Glimpses” is like a bunch of small stories, each with its own music and theme, but when you put them all together, they tell a bigger story about how vast the universe is and our small spot in it.

How long did this release take you to record and put together? What were some of your fun, amusing or interesting moments that you recollect from its creation?

Recording “Glimpses” was a journey that stretched over several months. I started fleshing out some song ideas last Winter, but the real production kicked off between November and December 2022, and I wrapped it up in July/August 2023. Balancing music production with other commitments is always a challenge since music isn’t my full-time job. This means things often take longer than planned.

A significant and tough moment during this period was losing my Dad in May 2023. It was something I knew was coming, but it hit me hard nonetheless, and I needed time to grieve. Throughout this, music remained my refuge and solace. It’s always been there for me, offering comfort and a space to express and heal.

The entire creative process of making music, every single part of it, is something I deeply enjoy. Sure, there were occasional challenges and headaches while working on “Glimpses,” but those hurdles are part of the journey. They’re where you learn and grow.

One highlight was my collaboration with Allan, who mastered each track on the album. As an independent solo artist, you get really attached to your work. You spend countless hours tweaking and listening, and sometimes it’s hard to step back and hear the music objectively. That’s where a skilled mastering engineer like Allan becomes crucial. His expertise and objective ears were invaluable. He helped me see things in my mixes that I hadn’t noticed and achieve the sound I was aiming for. It was incredibly satisfying to see the album come together with his touch. Allan’s care for the music, his constructive feedback, and professionalism really raised the bar for “Glimpses.” I’m super grateful for the magic he brought to the album.

How have you been finding the Melbourne live electronic music scene and
community? I’m curious in particular about your live performances, and how you manage these as a solo artist? Honestly, I’m often in the samem boat, so it would be great to hear about you use technology and hardware / software to account for a limited number of hands on-stage.

The Melbourne live electronic music scene is really something special. It’s got a cool, welcoming vibe with a very interesting underground and indie scene. What’s amazing is how open people are into different genres and new music. It’s a place where you can find your groove and the opportunities to express your passion. The whole artistic atmosphere in Melbourne is stimulating, making it an ideal spot in Australia for all arts. It also has great live music, offering plenty of opportunities to perform any genre of music. However, since COVID, things have changed a bit in the industry, and we’re all still feeling the effects. As much as I love performing live, I’m getting a bit weary of playing gigs for free. There’s a lot of work, energy, and money that goes into preparing a show, so I’m starting to prefer fewer, but more impactful, live performances.

Playing live as a solo artist, especially when singing a lot in my tracks, can be quite complex. I’m not too obsessed with instruments and equipment (but still a gear junkie anyway haha). After all, you don’t need a lot to make good music. I like keeping my live set-up flexible, not rigid or always the same. The core of my songs stays, but I create live versions and adapt them. Every Ivofonic live show is unique.

My live setup varies, but in the full setup, I use Ableton as the central hub. All stems of my tracks are in one project in session view, using 5 audio tracks and 2 midi tracks. I launch scenes with an APC Mini. The audio tracks are split into 2 for the drums, 1 for the bass, and 2 for blocks of instruments I don’t play live, with some effects mapped and controlled by an LPD8. For midi, one track has samples organised in the Drum Rack that I play live with an Arturia minilab, and the other sends parts to my Korg Minilogue sd. I’ve recently added a Roland SP-404 mkII sampler, aiming for a DAW-less live setup eventually. On stage, I use a Soundcraft Notepad-12FX for signal routing and balancing. This setup works well for instrumental performances, but vocals add complexity. Singing while managing everything else is challenging. Initially, I tried doing both, but now I use backtracks for songs with heavy lyrics to focus on singing and enjoying the performance, adding parts with the Minilogue. For my vocals I use the classic Shure SM58 that goes into a TCHelicon Voicetone E1, then into the Notepad. I also use a Zoom V3 for additional vocal effects via the send/return track of the Notepad. It’s a setup that took time to perfect, but now it really brings my live performances to life.

With 2024 looming so close, do you have any musical plans for next year? Are you already working on new material, and what do you think you might be releasing during the next 12 months?

As 2024 approaches, it’s hard to believe how quickly another year has flown by. But I’m definitely excited about what’s ahead. In the past few months, I’ve been focused on promoting “Glimpses,” but I’m eager to dive back into creating new music. I’m also hoping to schedule some gigs over the summer to continue promoting the album. Playing live is always a blast, and I’ve missed it! I’ve got a few ideas for new tracks already brewing, so you can definitely expect either another album or an EP in the coming year. I’m also thrilled about some collaborations on the horizon, particularly with The Safety Word and James Peden, and possibly others. It’s shaping up to be an exhilarating year.

For me, the real joy comes from being able to pursue my passion, having the time, health, and opportunity to do so, and being part of a community of artists who share and support each other. That sense of connection and creativity is my definition of success, more than a million streams or fame. Here’s to another year of music, collaboration, and fun!

Ivofonic on Bandcamp

Ivofonic Official Website