“I don’t know how it works, but it works.”
This is IVEY lead singer Millie Perks’ assessment of her Gold Coast band. While Millie is referring to the song-writing process, she also reveals something far more resonant. As she indicates, IVEY are a paradox, but also incredibly simple.
On the surface, IVEY’s status in the local music scene may seem unlikely, given their youth. Yet their success is not only natural, but entirely expected.
One overriding factor dictates this: IVEY are both a band and a family. To them, the two aspects are inextricable, with their tight-knit dynamic pervading throughout their music.
IVEY’s familial closeness is apparent long before entering lead guitarist Lachie McGuffie’s home. Vibrant laughter echoes beneath the ajar front door, while the aroma of home-cooked meatballs lingers. Inside, IVEY are nestled on an outdoor couch, glistening with sweat after another “intense” practice session.
“We all just have this really strong friendship,” Lachie says.
“Yeah, we’re like a family that plays music,” Millie elaborates.
“We treat each other like brothers and sisters. Sometimes we just hate each other, and then we love each other.”
Drummer Matt McGuffie has a slightly different opinion.
“I got forced into it,” he laughs, before clarifying, “no, I was born into it. It really is a family.”
On a blood level, IVEY are family. Lachie and Matt McGuffie are brothers, two years apart. Further, the siblings have known bassist Dante Martin since he was six. For years, this inseparable core trio played in bands predating IVEY. Then, four years ago, Millie completed the family.
Stemming from this friendship, another factor distinguishes IVEY: music is their priority and also their passion. The two are not mutually exclusive. Simply, IVEY seek to enjoy themselves, and believe that by doing so, everything else will fall into place.
“We’re trying to have fun doing it, and if it works out that people like the music we play, then great,” Dante says.
This youthful enthusiasm is natural, considering Millie and Matt are still in high school, and Lachie and Dante are midway through university degrees.
“We’re all kids, we can’t really do much else,” Lachie remarks before emphasising that their relaxed demeanours shouldn’t be mistaken for laziness or apathy.
“We do take ourselves seriously, in the aspects of our actual output,” he asserts.
And the output speaks for itself. On rotation on triple j Unearthed, identified in Spotify playlists as newcomers to watch, professional recorded music, their first headlining show, being added to the roster for Shakafest and scoring a finalist berth for Emerging Artist of the Year for the Gold Coast Music Awards
And despit making significant progress in their short time together, IVEY know there’s still vast room for improvement. Given everyone’s busy academic schedules, they realise a methodical approach is necessary, rather than trying to do everything at once.
“Yeah, we were pretty rushy when we started releasing music, especially the EP last year,” Lachie reflects. “So now, we’re taking our time, and we want to make sure we get things right.”
“I guess by the time Millie’s 18, that’s when we want to be popular.”
This continuous growth and re-evaluation is clear in IVEY’s music, making it difficult to pinpoint their genre. Apparently, Millie prompted this, causing a tonal overhaul that resulted in a mellower sound.
“Because my voice is really soft and weird,” she says.
Lachie clarifies that this doesn’t mean evolution for evolution’s sake, but for the sake of growth and progress.
“We’re like a Pokémon: always evolving,” Matt notes.
“It’s forever changing. Even new songs that Lachie writes sound different to a lot of our other songs,” Millie reiterates.
IVEY say their development is subtly noticeable in their ability to craft a song, laughing as they reflect on earlier, rawer lyrics. These days, while Lachie remains the principle songwriter, writing is a more collaborative process.
“Lachie sits at home and he’s obviously got the most emotional deepness. He brings [the song] to us, and Dante and I draft it like an English teacher,” Matt explains “Mark it, fix it up, send it back, see what the feedback is.”
“After that, everyone comes in and does their own little touches. Obviously Millie with vocals, and everyone touches up whatever they feel needs it.”
Refining their song-writing is one thing, but, according to IVEY, performing these songs is a truer measure of success. Recently, spirited performances have enhanced IVEY’s reputation, leading to their recent debut as headliners at elsewhere. But this wasn’t always the case. For Millie in particular, finding the confidence to lead the band was an acquired skill.
“[At first] I was like, ‘oh my god there’s people there, I don’t want to sing.’ I’d literally just stand there on stage,” she reflects. “But then as time goes on I kind of realised – and the others told me – that I had to involve the crowd more.”
For Lachie, performing elicits a different sensation. “It’s like excited nerves. And you also don’t want to fuck up,” he says.
“It’s a massive experience, and I think you just get better as you go,” Dante observes.
Primarily, Lachie attributes these advances to playing alongside experienced, established bands and observing their routines.
“You learn off them and want to step up your game,” he says.
According to Millie, these performance skills also help IVEY to grow their fan-base, leading to familiar faces appearing at gigs.
“I recognise people off Instagram. I mean, it sounds stupid, but there are people that follow us on Instagram and then they come to our gigs and you do recognise them,” she enthuses.
Given this, IVEY are particularly upbeat when discussing their long-term future. There is no hesitation or uncertainty – IVEY know exactly what they want. This is their dream, and they’ve been planning it since childhood.
“Long-term: tours, headline shows, hopefully selling out a few shows, and festivals,” Lachie says.
Broadly, everyone agrees, but they also have a more specific goal in mind.
“Splendour [in the Grass],” Dante asserts.
However, while fame, money, and admiration would be ideal, IVEY’s ambitions are far simpler.
“We just want to have fun and do our thing,” Lachie remarks. “This is what we like doing. If we could make a living off of it, that would be sweet.”
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IVEY join Drapht, Dune Rats, Spit Syndicate, The Vanns, Peach Fur, White Blanks and Von Villains for Shakafest at Miami Tavern on 27 August.