Ivy: Speaking The Shared Language Of Pop Singer Dominique Durand discusses forming the trio in the early '90s, when she was a recent immigrant who'd never set foot in a recording studio.
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Ivy: Speaking The Shared Language Of Pop

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Ivy: Speaking The Shared Language Of Pop

Ivy: Speaking The Shared Language Of Pop

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GUY RAZ, host: Time now for music and the story of how Dominique Durand became the unlikely front woman for the critically acclaimed Indie rock band Ivy.


DOMINIQUE DURAND: (Singing) Sooner or later she feels the morning comes. Isn't it safer, dark thoughts all gone.

RAZ: If this song sounds familiar, it's probably because you heard it in the film "There's Something About Mary." It's off Ivy's 1997 album "Apartment Life." The trio includes Andy Chase and Adam Schlesinger. Chase and Dominique Durand are now married. Ivy's been silent for the past five years. That is, until now.


DURAND: (Singing) Many streetlights flicker out. Don't you want to know what it's about? Take me for a ride, let's check it out. Baby, you'll do fine, I have no doubt.

RAZ: It's a track off their new record. It's called "Distant Lights." And Dominique Durand never intended to be in a band at all. When she left Paris in 1989 to study English in New York, she figured it would be for a few months, maybe a year, but as sometimes happens, fate took over and she soon met a man named Andy Chase.

DURAND: When I met him, he was a musician, struggling musician in New York like most of us, and we wrote a song together and he asked to sing the song. He brought me to a recording studio for the first time in my life, got me drunk on red wine and made me sing. And Adam Schlesinger, who was himself a struggling musician in New York trying to make it with his own band, heard the track and really loved it and pushed us to do more. And the three of us got together, did some five songs and then...

RAZ: And that was it.

DURAND: ...that happened. Yeah.

RAZ: And you were basically sort of phonetically pronouncing words that maybe you didn't even really know, right, because your English wasn't perfect at the time.

DURAND: No. In fact, if you hear our first EP that came out, I think, in 1995, you can hear there's a huge difference I sang. And my accent is so much stronger back then.


DURAND: (Singing) I can be a monster if I want to be one. But he's got me beaten by a landslide. He's just crazy.

My kids it's interesting because they're friends will say, "Oh, your mom, when she speaks, she's weird."


DURAND: You know, like, "Why does she have an accent." And like, my kids are like, "What are you talking about? She doesn't have an accent."

RAZ: And you - I mean, you never had any intention of becoming a singer or certainly not the lead singer of an Indie band.


RAZ: And I read that you actually didn't think much of your voice at all.

DURAND: No, no. I mean, I love singing just like most little girls love singing, you know, by yourself, but, no. Music was always part of my life. I've - my family owned a rock magazine, very influential in France. And so I grew up around musicians, and I've spent a lot of time in rehearsal studios. So music was always part of my life, but more as a fan and - or connoisseur, but not as the actual performer or songwriter.

RAZ: I want to ask you about the new record, "All Hours," because there's a - obviously, an electronic influence on this record.

DURAND: Mm-hmm.

RAZ: And some of your past work has been described as sounding like Burt Bacharach. I mean, there's really sort of a diversity in the way that you guys have evolved as a band.

DURAND: Mm-hmm.

RAZ: But a lot of music on this record really seems to pay homage to British alternative acts from the 1980's.


DURAND: (Singing) A promise we made ourselves to never (unintelligible). And (unintelligible) you'll never tell, tell me not to break down (unintelligible).

In the past, our record sounded more like traditional pop song, jangly guitar. This is more - from the '80s, almost like Depeche Mode a little bit, and...

RAZ: Yeah. What is it about the music from this period that you - obviously you love? I mean, you are a huge fan of The Smiths and The Cure...

DURAND: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

RAZ: ...and obviously Depeche Mode.

DURAND: Well, I love Depeche Mode. They were an amazing band. But also, I think it was a time when we were, you know, teenagers, or I can't remember the age, but, you know, very important time in your life when you listen to music and you discover music. And, you know, for me, growing up in Paris, I remember the first two 7-inch I bought were Depeche Mode and ABC.

And - but Andy and Adam, who grew up in America, were also very familiar and influenced with all the obscure British music coming from the '80s.


DURAND: (Singing) Never knew like we talked about...

RAZ: I'm speaking with singer Dominique Durand of the band Ivy about their new album that's called "All Hours." I read that you said that English is a language of pop music.


RAZ: But of course, there is some great French pop music as well. I mean...

DURAND: Oh, yeah.

RAZ: ...did you ever think about singing in French and maybe doing a song in French on an Ivy record?

DURAND: Yeah. You know, I - well, I do record from French songs. We did a covers record called "Guestroom," and I recorded a French song, a Serge Gainsbourg, which is a very unbelievable French songwriter.


DURAND: (Singing in French)

RAZ: As a mom and a wife and of course a front woman for an Indie rock band, I mean, do you find that the kinds of things that you want to sing about now are so different than the kinds of things that you were singing about when Ivy first began?

DURAND: No, they're actually not. And I'm glad. And I'm actually very glad, because I really can't stand when I see musicians, great songwriter, and after having kids they become so boring in way, you know?


DURAND: There's talk about the kids or kid and this, and I'm like, no, I talk about that all day. I don't need to talk about that in my songs. I just - I need escape.


DURAND: (Singing) When I think about you (unintelligible) in a world without you (unintelligible).

RAZ: What is this record "All Hours"? What is it about to you?

DURAND: It's about many things, actually. But it's, I would say, a more typical Ivy, you know, little urban tales of romance turned bad or, you know, things like that. It's also to me a very positive record. It's kind of like a rebirth in a certain way. Like, I went through a very harsh time for the, you know, the last years. I lived in and out of hospital and surgeries and...

RAZ: Oh. What happened?

DURAND: You know, life. I got sick just like that in one day and ended up being in the emergency room, and I stayed there for two months. I had, you know, an organ that became very toxic. It's not cancer. We don't know why. And to me, it's not like I want to be so public about it, but that record has a lot of meaning to me. And especially like a song like "Lost in the Sun" has a very kind of like a rebirth, you know, meaning to it.


DURAND: (Singing) Lost in the sun. Lost in the sun. Light fills my eyes and I feel so alive, we're alive.

But it's amazing because what I've really learned is that you can be a very healthy person, which I was, and in a few days, you can lose that. But also very quickly, you can come back to life, and that's an amazing learning experience to live that.

RAZ: That's Dominique Durand. She is the lead singer for the band Ivy. Their new record "All Hours" is out now. Dominique, thank you so much.

DURAND: Thank you so much.


DURAND: (Singing) It's always a place. In my mind, I want to play. Lost in the sun, lost in the sun. And I could be anywhere. And I could be everywhere. Lost in the sun, lost in the sun. Light fills my eyes and I feel I'm alive, we're alive.

RAZ: And for Saturday, Sunday, rather, that's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. Remember, you can hear the best of this program on our podcast. Subscribe or listen at iTunes or npr.org/weekendatc. We post a new episode every Sunday night. We're back on the radio next weekend. Until then, thanks for listening and have a great week.

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