Iva’s in hot de­mand

Iva Lamkum turned teenage angst into a fledg­ling song­writ­ing ca­reer that’s ready to fly. By Kim­ber­ley Roth­well.

Waikato Times - - Show! -

LIS­TEN to Iva Lamkum’s new CD and you’d ex­pect a diva; you’d ex­pect lash­ings of eye makeup and im­mac­u­lately coiffed hair, per­haps a man­ager or PR per­son in tow. What you wouldn’t ex­pect is Iva (pro­nounced to rhyme with diva), the 22-year-old singer and song­writer, to be at the cafe early, straight af­ter fin­ish­ing work for the day as a re­cep­tion­ist.

You’d ex­pect a diva be­cause, lis­ten­ing to her de­but self-ti­tled EP (ex­tended play CD), you would think she was one. Her voice is huge and rich and deep. She’s been favourably com­pared to Erykah Badu and Amy Wine­house. She writes her own ma­te­rial, plays gui­tar and drums, and sang with Welling­ton artists for about five years be­fore record­ing her own EP.

‘‘I got into mu­sic when I had just left school. At the age of nine, that’s when I knew I could sing be­cause one of my teach­ers used to nag me about it. She said ‘You have to go sing, you’re good at it’.’’

Iva’s in hot de­mand at the mo­ment, even fit­ting in an in­ter­view on Ra­dio New Zealand Na­tional dur­ing her lunch­break.

The past two months have been crazy, she says, pro­mot­ing the EP, per­form­ing at night and hold­ing down a day job. ‘‘It’s been a long day,’’ she sighs.

Though the mu­sic world is awash in young fe­male singer song­writ­ers, Iva says there’s no one re­ally do­ing what she does right now.

‘‘We all have some­thing to talk about. The only thing we have in com­mon is that we have our own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences.

‘‘I like to call my sound ‘street soul’. I was pretty much born and raised in the city, I just live 10 min­utes up the road from Cuba St. Be­ing sur­rounded by a lot of peo­ple and go­ing to dif­fer­ent places all the time, I kind of feed off that en­ergy. It in­spires me in my lyrics, I like that city talk lan­guage.’’

It may seem that, armed with such a voice, a ca­reer in mu­sic was a given for Iva from a young age. But it was al­most ac­ci­den­tal.

‘‘Af­ter school, I went to study busi­ness and did a short course in mu­sic com­pos­ing. It was just some­thing to do with my spare time, I wasn’t se­ri­ous about it. I started jam­ming with bands and got paid for that. Be­cause mu­sic was a hobby, I just did it for the fun of it.

‘‘ I did gigs for dif­fer­ent peo­ple and peo­ple were in­ter­ested in my mu­si­cal back­ground. It dragged me into dif­fer­ent con­tacts and then sud­denly I was do­ing solo gigs.’’

Some of the six songs on the EP were writ­ten when Iva was just out of school, and they’re very per­sonal, she says. Grow­ing up in a Samoan Methodist house­hold with her mother, two sis­ters, four brothers and an aunty, she re­belled against what she says was a strict up­bring­ing. Writ­ing about it, she re­alised she could turn her sto­ries into songs.

‘‘I had to be home at a cer­tain cur­few, I couldn’t do this or that, I was miss­ing out on a lot of stuff. I did some sneak­ing out, got in with some bad peo­ple, you know. I was go­ing through a lot of stuff; those teenage years you don’t re­ally know what’s right or wrong. The whole teenage ex­pe­ri­ence, be­ing told no to this, no to that, I strug­gled with that, I didn’t know who to talk to about it. So I just started writ­ing it down. And all of a sud­den I was writ­ing heaps of pages of gib­ber­ish, and that’s when they just turned into songs.’’

The first track on the EP, Kung Fu Grip, is about that time of her life. ‘‘You had to go to church in a skirt, and I’m so un­com­fort­able in skirts! I al­ways wore trousers or jeans. I would get told off for that. I was judged by oth­ers, be­cause I didn’t like dress­ing up. In the song I’m say­ing don’t judge me for that.’’

Hav­ing had such a hard time grow­ing up un­der her fam­ily’s thumb, Iva says her mother is now her big­gest fan, show­ing up at ev­ery one of her gigs.

‘‘In the first place she wanted me to get a real job, she didn’t want me to do mu­sic. But she saw I was work­ing hard at it, and now she’s very sup­port­ive. She knows I’m old enough to make my own de­ci­sions. She saw my de­vel­op­ment and knew that I was be­com­ing ma­ture and mak­ing de­ci­sions on my own. She’ll try and leave work early to come to my gigs, even if it means miss­ing out on eight hours’ pay.’’

Next month Iva takes her band on tour around the North Is­land, per­form­ing in Ro­torua, Black Barn Vine­yard in Hawke’s Bay, Auck­land and Raglan. There’s also work on a track for Sola Rosa’s next album, to be re­leased at the end of the year, and a mu­sic video for Kung Fu Grip to be shot.

It will mean tak­ing an even longer lunch­break than usual: ‘‘I have to take leave from work. I’ve ex­plained to them that, look, mu­sic comes first. They’re cool with that.’’ – The Do­min­ion Post

PIC­TURE: The Do­min­ion Post

BUD­DING SINGER: Iva Lamkum will be in Raglan next month as part of a North Is­land tour.

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