The New York-based pop group Ivy came together in 1994 when multi-instrumentalist Andy Chase placed an ad in the Village Voice in an attempt to start a band. Musician/songwriter Adam Schlesinger answered Chase, for the two had mutual musical tastes -- both liked Prefab Sprout and the Go-Betweens. Within months, the two met Parisian-born Dominique Durand. Durand had come to New York in 1989 to learn English, not join a band. Ironically enough, Durand was a massive music fan and adored the sounds of the Smiths, the Pastels, and House of Love. This allowed her to click with Chase and Schlesinger. She'd never sung before, but Chase and Schlesinger encouraged her to sing on the demo for "Can't Even Fake It." It was a pleasant surprise -- Durand had found her voice -- one that would become one of indie rock's finest and most artistically well-regarded voices of the decade -- and Ivy was born.
Ivy inked a deal with local label Seed Records in 1994 and issued the "Get Enough/Drag You Down" single. Melody Maker in the U.K. jumped on it immediately, and Ivy's debut earned props as the Single of the Week. Several months later, the trio released the Lately EP. Their rendition of Orange Juice's "I Guess I'm Just a Little Too Sensitive" was a moderate hit among the indie rock circuit. Ex-Orange Juice frontman Edwyn Collins also enjoyed the track and asked Ivy to be the opening act on his North American tour in 1995. Ivy's first studio full-length, Realistic, appeared that same year. Tours with fellow indie darlings -- Saint Etienne, Lloyd Cole, and Madder Rose -- allowed Ivy's name began to soar.
By the time the band readied for a sophomore effort, they'd signed to a major label. In 1997, Ivy issued Apartment Life on Atlantic. This particular album highlighted Chase and Schlesinger's impressive studio skills. Ivy was winning critics over with their sugary, sweet sound and Apartment Life was regarded as one of the year's stand-out albums. Their star power was unstoppable, but gracefully so. "I Get the Message" and "This Is the Day" were featured on the soundtrack to the Farrelly Brothers' comedy There's Something About Mary. Their cover of Steely Dan's "Only a Fool Would Say That" was also included in the Farrelly Brothers' soundtrack for Me, Myself and Irene. Fashionistas got a taste of Ivy, too. A world-wide Volkswagen campaign catapulted the band's name into stardom. Ivy never lost face, though. What made them so impressive was how they kept things simple and followed their own formula. It would work against them in the majors, but it wouldn't break up the band.
Ivy founded Stratosphere Sound, their studio with Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, before the '90s came to a close. Chase and Durand had also married; Ivy was focused on the band's musical atmosphere and the texture of their sound, and this space allowed them to focus. Sony let them go, so they had complete creative control. Unfortunately, things didn't go so smoothly. Stratosphere Sound was subject to arson while the band was recording a third album in 2000. Countless dollars and valuable recording equipment were lost in the fire, but this didn't delay the completion of the record. Long Distance arrived in fall 2001, four years after Apartment Life. This marked Ivy's first release with Nettwerk and the trio's classic pop sensibility was at its finest. Durand and Chase became parents of daughter Justine while also finding a new home with the Nettwerk label. That same year, the band composed the film score for the Farrelly Brothers' Jack Black comedy Shallow Hal. In fall 2002, Ivy returned with an all-cover album, Guestroom. On December 17, Chase and Durand welcomed their second, child, Julien. Over the next few years, Schlesinger released another album with Fountains of Wayne, 2003's Welcome Interstate Managers. Durand and Chase collaborated on a trip-hop album in 2004 under the Paco moniker. A year later, Ivy issued In the Clear. In 2011, Ivy returned with the more electronic pop-oriented All Hours. ~ MacKenzie Wilson