Friday, September 29, 2023

An Interview With Ivypaint

The pop-punk band Ivypaint was formed in 2018 in Orlando, Florida, by Sean Duong (Vocals), and eventually filled out by Christian Wheeler (Lead Guitar), Jason Flanders (Drums), and Cal Mueller (Rhythm Guitar).

With an emphasis on catchy melodies, vulnerable lyrics, emotive vocals, and driving guitars, Ivypaint cites influences such as Neck Deep, Waterparks, and Blink-182. Their debut EP “Quiet Compassion,” featuring lead single “Little Liaison,” was released in June 2019, as the creative output that Duong utilized as an emotional therapy of sorts, covering topics such as failed relationships, and questionings of mental stability, all while still maintaining melodic sensibility.

Since the release of “Quiet Compassion,” Ivypaint have been in full throttle, creating buzz within the alternative scene with their sophomore EP “Blue Light,” featuring singles “50/50” (featuring Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens), and “Melatonin.” It is clear that Ivypaint are a force to be reckoned with as they begin to roll out their third EP “Never Pleasure,” during 2022, a summer tour, and a slot at the SXSW music festival in Austin Texas!

How did you get started, and what has led up to where you are today as a band?

Sean Duong (Vocals): Funnily enough, Ivypaint really started in high school after I went through a “bad” breakup — by high schooler standards — and needed an outlet to help get over it. This outlet ended up being Ivypaint’s debut EP “Quiet Compassion,” produced by my good friend Jacob Craddock of Miramar Drive.

But one fateful morning, I figured that continuing Ivypaint on my own would be daunting — and lonely — so I decided to pick up other members to join full-time. So after a few member rotations, a stellar sophomore EP (titled “Blue Light”), a Kellin Quinn collaboration, and a BTS cover, our roster of members has finalized as Christian Wheeler (lead guitar), Jason Flanders (drums), and Cal Mueller (rhythm guitar).

And now as this beautiful quartet, we’ve begun rolling out our third EP “Never Pleasure,” which will definitely be a treat for any longtime fans, as well as a great entry for any newcomers discovering us.

Jason Flanders (drums): I found Sean in 2019 and had heard some of his music online, I was like “This music is so great but it has no following, what can I do to help?” I had recently left my old band and was looking for a new group, so I “politely” inserted myself as the drummer and made it my mission to get the band’s name out there however I/We could….here we are!

Cal Mueller (Guitar): I started playing guitar at the age of 14 when my dad offered to pay for some lessons. I was pretty much always listening to music in middle school and high school, so it seemed like a natural fit. I played in a hardcore band with out drummer Jason like 5 years ago and he hit me up about becoming a part of this project last year and it’s been such a fun experience so far!

Who do you feel has influenced your sound the most?

Cal Mueller (Guitar): Some artists who I find myself drawing inspiration from the most would be Senses Fail, Chiodos, Silverstein, Saosin, pretty much any post-hardcore/emo/pop punk/metalcore band from the early – mid 2000s. I actually have the Chiodos logo tattooed on my right shoulder!

Sean Duong (Vocals): Considering that we’re four young twenty-something year olds in a pop-punk band, it’s hard not to find influence from all those 2000’s Warped Tour bands like All Time Low, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, but we also find a lot of value in looking at less accepted pop-rock/pop-punk artists such as 5 Seconds of Summer and Waterparks.

Jason Flanders (Drums): I grew up on Neon Pop Punk bands like All Time Low, Boys Like Girls, We he Kings, Fall Out Boy, Forever The Sickest Kids, Paramore, etc. There was something really special happening back then because the scene was on top of the world and somehow still managed to make even the saddest of songs still seem “Fun” I feel like the scene has lost that over the last 7/8 years and I would really love to be a part of a scene that helps people feel that feeling again.

What do you feel sets you apart from other artists and gives you your own sound?

Cal Mueller (Guitar): Every musician has their own musical tastes and I take those influences and mesh it with my own style. There are some days when I get extremely motivated and overtaken with inspiration and I let it flow. I can spend the whole day just writing songs, and these aren’t throw-away tracks. Most of my friends are musicians. I draw inspiration from my friends, not just famous and well-known musicians.

Jason Flanders (Drums): I think what sets as apart is our willingness to put emphasis on creating the “catchiest” melodies and harmonies that we can. I think there’s a lot that the scene can learn from straight up pop stars without completely sacrificing their art and brand at the same time, it’s a fine line.

Sean Duong (Vocals): one thing that sets us apart is our ability to use serious themes and lyrics in our songs, such as mental illness, abusive relationships, substance abuse, etc, and still make it sound upbeat and “energetic.” Although it technically doesn’t contribute to our sound, I find it especially valuable in how this band is fronted by an Asian guy, which is so very rare in this scene, and that diversity brings a breath of fresh air that inspires our younger audience. It proves that you can look any-which-way in this genre and kick-ass at it, regardless of your background.

What has been your biggest challenge and what do you feel you have learned from it?

Sean Duong (Vocals): Our biggest challenge has been adapting to a constantly evolving music industry. People seldom admit it, but a LOT of musicians hate making promotional marketing videos for social media because they just wanna let the music speak for itself. Unfortunately, in this era of music, it really requires biting the bullet, putting your ego aside, and making trendy TikTok videos or talking to a camera as if we aren’t introverts. Thankfully, COVID left us with no choice but to resort to internet content creation as a means of connecting with fans, and ironically enough, without COVID, we wouldn’t have established the audience we have today.

Cal Mueller (Guitar): I recently found out that I have a heart condition, and it has been a bit of an obstacle that I must manage. Even with an obstacle in the way, I still find the time and the passion to follow my dreams.

Tell us about your latest project, what have you got going on at the moment?

Jason Flanders (Drums): We just released our first single of the year titled “Buggin’ Out”. We will be dropping music throughout the entire year of 2022 and we felt like this song was the best place to start! Buggin’ Out has hints of the new, hints of the old, and really just shows off all the different lanes we will be driving in this year!

We also just signed with a manager and have booked a slot on the annual SXSW music festival in Austin, TX and we are currently putting the final details together for our first tour for this summer!

What advice would you give to anyone new coming into the industry?

Sean Duong (Vocals): Make the music you want to be playing and listening to.
– If you strive for nothing but perfection in this industry, you’re not gonna last very long.
– Do not let numbers control you.
– Make as many connections as possible, especially at local shows.
– Don’t be a dick to the sound guy.

Jason Flanders (Drums): Well first off I will say to all the drummers out there: Learn to play to a click! haha! I would also say this: You’ve only failed if you give up, if you don’t give don’t give up then you haven’t failed yet! This ain’t easy, but we’ve been able to get further than we ever thought we could and that is simply because we never stopped and gave up when things got hard and we continue to practice that mindset every day as we reach this next chapter!

Is there anyone you’d like to thank for getting you to where you are now, anyone you’d like to give a shout-out to?

Cal Mueller (Guitar): There are a few friends that helped me out along the way.
My friend Dallas introduced me to Daniel. He was the drummer of a local band in Orlando called Not In Vain (NIV). They needed a rhythm guitar player, and I was a good fit for the style. I met some great friends along the way, specifically Chris, the vocalist from NIV. We’re on great terms still and he fills in on vocal and bass duty from time to time in my side project. This is where I met Jason and got to know him as well, he filled in on drums for NIV for a few months. I’d also like to shout out my friend Said, a great lead guitar player, he was a co-founder of NIV, who I replaced. We’re on great terms and we frequently meet up to jam and write music.

Jason Flanders (Drums): 100% my dad for always rooting for me, it’s nice to have a parent that enjoys you doing “The Music Thing” Our producer Jacob Craddock is key to why we are able to record music at the quality in which we do, our manager Nathan for always looking out for us, and of course our fans…..without them we would be nowhere in this game!

Sean Duong (Vocals): First off, we have to thank Jacob Craddock for producing literally all of our EP’s and doing a damn awesome job at it. We should also thank Micah Rojas, Jack Bramuchi, and Matthew Brown for also lending their creativity and talent to Ivypaint.

I also want to give a shoutout to MGK and Travis Barker for reviving pop-punk and bringing it to the mainstream again.

Another shoutout to Christian Cuales of Santoku Media for being an awesome music video director.

And shoutout to all of the people who have supported us over the years. If you’ve streamed a song or added one to a playlist, thank you. If you’ve been to one of our shows or bought merch, thank you. If you find comfort in listening to our music, thank you.

How can fans find you?

Spotify, Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Tiktok,
Ya bois are everywhere!

Follow Ivypaint
Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

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