Beats and Bloom: An Interview with Paul Ivy

Paul+Ivy%2C+Florence-based+rapper%2Fproducer+and+co-founder+of+Bold+Bloom.

Treasure Franklin | Staff Photographer

Paul Ivy, Florence-based rapper/producer and co-founder of Bold Bloom.

Trenedy Park and Whitney Veazey, Staff Writer and Staff Photographer

For many artists, music and its creation has been a part of their lives since birth. However, Florence-based rapper and producer Paul Ivy’s story doesn’t quite start out the same way. 

A native of Birmingham, Ala., Ivy grew up listening to rap. Artists like Kanye West, whose music was heavily influenced around beats, interested Ivy. His fascination grew until his family began attending church and his parents forbade the genre. Around the age of 15, Ivy began to make his way back to rap music through beatmaking on a hand-me-down laptop, one that he still used later on in his career by bringing to shows. 

When asked about support from his friends and family, Ivy explained that while his parents support his career now, it didn’t come without sacrifice. 

As a freshman at UNA, Ivy ran into financial difficulties on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led him to move back home with his parents in Birmingham. While there, he started working in construction and kickstarted his music career on the side. 

Eventually, he told his parents he was moving back to Florence to pursue music. He credits this decision as the reason his parents began to recognize how serious he was about this path, since giving up a stable job is no easy task. 

“I look at it as definitely one of the scariest things I’ve done,” Ivy said. “But it’s also one of the more rewarding things and I guess that’s the kind of stuff that keeps my head up.” 

In addition to his solo career, Ivy is part of a collective called Bold Bloom, consisting of himself, and fellow artists JRNL (JaRay “D’Mario” Nalls), DwayneBaba (Joshua Peterson), Zenith (Edric “EJ” Powell) and Nicholas Glazier. 

Ivy, Nalls and Peterson were originally part of a larger collective but stepped away to form Bold Bloom in 2020. Ivy says he decided to split from the larger collective when he realized the group was oversaturated with talent, and Nalls and Peterson joined him.

“I guess you could say the ‘founding fathers’ of Bold Bloom are me, JRNL, and DwayneBaba,” Ivy said. 

Bold Bloom formed amid physical distance during the COVID-19 outbreak. Ivy lived in Birmingham, Peterson lived here in Florence and Nalls lived just under an hour north of Ivy. But since normal campus operations have resumed, the group has collaborated and supported each other at a number of shows and performances.

Ivy described his music in three parts: The lyrical and musical, the production, and the performance. Lyrically, he described it as honest. While not every song is an exact experience pulled from his own personal life, Ivy uses the emotions he’s experienced to build worlds of hypotheticals and stories around some of the most relatable yet raw emotions ascribed to the everyday human condition. 

Ivy described his production style with the word “versatile.” So far, he’s released two songs, each of which is very distinct from the other in terms of sound. He said his third record, which will be released in October, will also be completely different from the other two.

“It’s always gonna keep changing because you gotta think, I spent so much time beat-making,” Ivy said. “I was just exploring these different avenues and listening to these underground artists and radio hit artists, you know, so I’m pulling inspiration from everywhere.”

Ivy’s creative process in music also lends itself to visual mediums. Often, Ivy takes inspiration from cinematography to help him with the production side of things. Aside from lyrics, Ivy uses his production technique to “paint a picture” using sound. Ivy even forgoes the second half of  “Envy” when performing live because it is majorly composed of sound alone. 

Ivy described his performances as emotional. Because his lyrics are so rooted in his own thoughts, perceptions, and feelings, sometimes that emotion reveals itself on stage. Ivy spoke about how he cried during his last show.

“It wasn’t like a stage cry, where I was like ‘Alright on three’.” Ivy said.

The topic that makes him the most emotional, he said, is his family. The bittersweetness of pursuing his dreams while also being away from his loved ones makes its way into the themes of multiple songs. Ivy described the situation as a “double-edged sword,” and expressed melancholy towards his work-life balance. 

However, this sensitivity on stage provides a sense of authenticity that can be traced back to Ivy’s lyricism. When asked about how he became so adept with his lyrics, Ivy said that it wasn’t something he was born with or always had a knack for.

“I wasn’t big into poetry. A lot of artists are like ‘Oh yeah I was a poet when I was a kid,’” Ivy said. “The first time I started writing was in the seventh grade, it wasn’t anything serious. Definitely no real subject matter.”

In 2019, writing became a big part of what he did. Though, he had no plans to record the songs he worked on. His thought was to be a songwriter, and it took him a year to release his debut song “Terms and Conditions.” 

Ivy said that the two tracks he has released–“Terms and Conditions” and “Envy”–are one story. His debut song, “Terms and Conditions”, is about Ivy and a past partner’s split due to a difference in goals. 

Ivy chose to focus on his passion in life, while his partner focused on having fun. The lyrics Ivy wrote portray the fact that he is an upcoming artist who is determined, and he should not be underestimated. 

As far as upcoming projects, while Ivy is working on an album, he makes it clear that he much prefers quality over quantity. He wants to be sure that he has taken the time to refine each song to its full potential. 

“I’m trying not to look at the house, I’m trying to focus on putting bricks down, if that makes sense,” Ivy said. “I just feel like I owe it to myself to take my time with it, and like truly be happy with it.”

Ivy’s next release will drop in October.