Wavedash and James Ivy on Internet Friends, Second Sky, and Chicago
When James Ivy was 15, his mother warned him about meeting strangers over the internet. James was a budding musician and had recently started connecting with fellow music lovers over Twitter and Soundcloud. One day, he decided to meet his new e-buddy, Luke Shippey, over Skype. Luke was a fellow music-making teen with similar interests, and his EDM group, Wavedash, was interested in working with James.
On their call, Luke introduced James to his bandmates, Gavin Bendt (16) and Michael Stone (17). The four boys instantly hit it off. They bonded over their shared affinities for online video games, the PC Music arts collective, and the slightly obscure proto-hyper pop movement. After they all signed off, James sent a few demos to “the boys,” as he now affectionately calls them.
“It felt like I was talking to someone that would be my neighbor or someone I went to school with,” James said. “It felt supernatural. We got really close, really fast.”
That initial Skype meeting was seven years ago. Since then, Wavedash and James Ivy have performed at major festivals together, worked with some of their musical idols, and–most recently–released their very first single together, all before any of them have turned 25.
As teenagers, James (Jimmy), Luke, Gavin, and Michael loved to play video games with their friends, were bullied for being music nerds, and bonded over their favorite artists (Sophie, A.G. Cook, and Porter Robinson). They were also using school breaks to perform at massive music festivals across the country. Jimmy first performed at Austin’s South by Southwest festival when he was 15, and Wavedash played Ultra Music Festival in Miami while the boys were still in high school.
“High school was so funny for all of us,” Jimmy admits.
“But I don’t think it made any of us cooler, by any means, at all,” says Michael laughing.
Luke remembers when Wavedash’s first single, “Bang,” debuted with OWSLA, the record label, and brand spearheaded by dubstep icon Skrillex.
“I remember sitting there at my laptop looking around the room kind of thinking ‘wow this is the biggest deal of all time for me … and I’m in the middle of class right now.’”
Wavedash released their debut album World Famous Tour to critical acclaim in 2021. And James Ivy’s debut EP “Good Grief!” dropped via Fader Label that same year. Naturally, they all appear in each other’s projects. Gavin, Michael, and Luke lent a production hand to “Good Grief!” and James Ivy appears in the Wavedash track “Void; Reciprocate, Love.”
“We’re always going to be intertwined and collaborating with each other, it’s just sort of the nature of our friendship,” Jimmy says.
In 2021, Wavedash and James Ivy performed together at Second Sky, the Bay Area festival headed by their now close friend, Porter Robinson. Though they’d been making music together quite literally since the day they met, this would be the boys’ first performance together, and it was for a crowd of 10,000 people.
Wavedash had two sets to showcase their World Famous Tour live interpretation, and they planned to bring James Ivy out for a few songs to close them out. And after much debate, they settled on closing with a “cool little demo we made in Chicago.”
“Weirdly enough, we tried infinite songs that were not ‘Chicago Loop’,” Luke admits. “Like that wasn’t even on the radar. But I think we can all agree that the response we got from the fans with this song was the thing that drove us to put it out.”
The Birth of Chicago Loop
“Chicago Loop” is the hyper-pop bass banger that none of the boys saw coming. The track metabolized after a festival weekend gone wrong at Lollapalooza. When they recount their story from that weekend, they all grieve the horrible staging mishap that forced Wavedash to perform behind the sound booth, which Luke describes as “one of those bad dreams come true.” Jimmy chuckles at the underwhelming Whiteclaw after-party he was booked to play that catered to blasé “industry people” and dared to serve only the Black Cherry flavor. And to top it all off, the one anticipated redemption of the evening, a late-night stop at Chicago’s flagship McDonald’s store, was also a total bust.
Perhaps a pack of more jaded musicians would have thrown a fit. But “the boys” just laughed it off and used the rest of the weekend to make music in their hotel room. They used an ironing board as a makeshift desk and airdropped audio files from iPhones to laptops to create what would later become “Chicago Loop.”
This seems to be the ethos of the working friendship between Wavedash and James Ivy. Low-stakes creativity and an unadulterated desire to have fun.
“Without a doubt, we would still be friends if we weren’t making music together,” Jimmy says. “The fact that we are all so similar creatively and we get to make music together is just an added bonus.”
With You, Friends
Though they live on opposite ends of the country–Jimmy in an apartment in Brooklyn and the boys in a house shared with friends in Texas–their friendship keeps them grounded amidst the potential whirlwind of being young in the entertainment business.
They take every chance they can to visit and adamantly support each other’s projects. When Jimmy tells me about the new EP he’s working on, Michael attests - “every song is Jimmy’s best song.”
When Luke and Michael explain the mound of music they’ve been collecting since World Famous Tour, Jimmy pipes in, “I have an idea of what I want them to do with it all, but we’ll keep it under wraps for now.”
It’s a refreshingly supportive friendship among creatives, and Jimmy can confirm. “There’s so much crossover, but there’s also so much difference, and I think that’s really healthy. It makes collaboration feel not competitive and really natural, fun and organic.”
These guys are modest, fun, genuine, and maybe a bit nerdy. As we all close the interview and sign off from our respective rooms across the country, I can’t help but feel like I’ve just spent the last hour hanging out with my old buds.
And like Luke says, “isn’t it more fun to do things with your homies?”