IVVVO: ‘I live in the shadow of the past.’

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IVVVO is a Portuguese musician and co-founder of the record label, Terrain Ahead. His music has been released by a number of different imprints, including moun10, Opal Tapes, Public Information, Danse Noire and Fourth Wave. He is currently based in London. This conversation took place before his show at MeetFactory in Prague in April 2016. 

Did you start with music in Porto with the label/collective, Terrain Ahead?

I guess it was a natural order of things. I started going out when I turned 18. When all your friends are DJs, you want to become one too. From that moment on, I started losing interest in other things and really focused on music. Actually, I was never a good DJ, but I like to see people dance. My friends and I decided to start a record label just because we didn’t have another option for releasing our music.

Are you still part of it?

We all focus on our own projects – some of us are into fashion design, others are into music or visual arts. We also live in different cities around the world, so it’s hard to keep it going. At some point we will do something, but not in the near future.

With your own music, there have been allusions to rave nostalgia.

I’ve never been to a rave to be honest, I’m quite young. What kept my attention – based on the footage I’ve seen on YouTube from that era – is the freedom people used to enjoy, and the community feeling. People dressed in tracksuits and went to dance without caring about anything else. The feeling of rage – just close your eyes and let go. I fell in love with that mood, which we don’t have anymore. I guess it’s also the drugs people take these days. Back in the day, people used to take ecstasy and now they take cocaine and it makes them more self-absorbed – it’s more about them than the others. Also, everybody knows about everything nowadays. Back in the day, you went to a party and you knew you’re not going to end up on photos the next day. I’m also changing, getting older – looking inside myself.

Because you also did a record called Mark Leckey Made Me Hardcore, obviously a nod to his famous video piece.

I did it because Mark Leckey had been a big influence on me when I started buying records. His work is also about freedom. Youth culture and underground movements are punk in their attitude. Youth is something that really inspired me, because it’s a moment in life when you can be whoever you want. You don’t have responsibilities. And I wish I could feel like that forever.

There’s also the innocence of youth.

And naivety. That’s what really makes me create music and live.

Is it possible in today’s world?

I try to make everything possible – for myself at least. I try to make my music breed that kind of love, hate and sadness. Because that’s the world I live in, the movies I watch, the music I listen to, the people I surround myself with. You need to make your own choices to keep living the dream.

Your Opal Tapes release had quite a lot of sombre track titles such as “Lost” or “Death”.

I have this fixation with emotions. But I’m not really good at naming things.

“Rainy Rave” is not that bad. Is melancholia more inspiring to you than happiness?

There are people who grew up with happy music, I grew up with emo music – from Deftones to Placebo. I was really into teenage love with all its pitfalls – the pain, the suffering.

Your music comes from a more introspective space, as if it was wrapped in a veil.

I like the idea of an image of something – a movie, a girl. I can see the sound in my head when I imagine it and I try to do the best I can to put that thought into sounds. But I don’t really think about it a lot, most of my tracks are recorded in a few hours.

Do you also do something visual?

I’ve tried lots of times. My wife draws and paints really well, but I’m really bad at it. I’m a sound sort of guy.

How do you like living in London?

It’s expensive. But it is my home now, I’m married, I can’t imagine myself in another city or country. I wouldn’t go back to Portugal right now. Despite it being so expensive and the 15 days of summer we have, I’m happy to be there.

I guess Britain has always been a fertile ground for youth culture.

It really inspired me, even though it doesn’t exist anymore. I guess . But I’m not active in the music scene in London these days though I’m really into the art scene.

So a lot of the stuff you make is rather an imagination of the past rather than reality.

Definitely. If I start to think about what’s happening now I’d probably commit suicide, because everything is so sad. I don’t want to live in this world, I’d rather live in my imagination.

What about Theories of Anxiety, the title of your Danse Noire EP? That describes the modern world quite well, since we live in the age of anxiety.

I suffer from anxiety. I’m getting older and older and I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do in the future. Everybody says you need to have a safe plan, and I don’t. I have lot of friends around 30 who still live with their parents. Back in the day, you turned 18 and became an adult, and now until 30 you’re still a “young adult”. With all the societal pressure and money issues, it’s really hard to be an adult these days.

Does music help you filter that?

Maybe. Although I guess music is something like washing your teeth every morning – you don’t really think about it. It’s just natural. Music is the same for me. It’s part of my blood.

What are you planning for the next couple of months?

I want to do a proper live show with a band. I want to get rich and buy a house and have nice cars. I guess that’s what everybody wants – to be happy. I want to have a family. I want all of this – with or without music, even though music will always stay there. But I don’t like to make plans because most of the time, I just get disappointed.

(Photo: Richard Hodonicky)