Ivy Paige is the amazing burlesque singer and performer who caught the public’s imagination when she was on Olli Murs’ team on The Voice easier this year. This Wednesday (30 May) she brings her new show Seduction to Underbelly for a special preview, and here she tell’s Dave Cross more.
Hey Ivy, to someone who has never seen your act, how would you describe what Ivy Paige does?
I would say that Ivy is an electrifying medley of production, humour and wit.
And what about the music, the songs you perform – how would you categorise those?
Well it’s cabaret, so often it’s original music or interesting covers with a twist?
Do you write your own songs?
Yes, I’ve got a writing partner, a guy called Pete Saunders, and Pete was in Dexys Midnight Runners.
And how do you choose a song to cover for your shows?
I always like to choose songs that I can make my own and put an Ivy Paige spin on it, so for example we do a really great cover of Material Girl. But I always try and relate it back to Ivy Paige.
Were you always into performing and singing as a child?
Yeah, I was always putting on shows, and apparently I would always strip off my clothes too.
What sort of music did you listen to as a kid?
I grew up listening to the music my mum and dad listened to, so a lot of Queen, and I can remember dancing around the front room with my dad to Freddie Mercury. He was probably only the greatest showman ever. Oh and I had the Fraggle Rock album on vinyl.
That’s pretty cool. And how did you get into professional performing? What was the route that you took?
I went to drama and dance school, then I played Annie, and it just went from there really. I then I got into burlesque and cabaret around 2006, and that’s when I knew I found my home. I’d found what I was meant to do.
Was there a definite moment when you thought this is what I want to do?
Yeah, one hundred per cent. I was making a show actually at the Edinburgh Festival; it was called The Powder Room, and that was the first show with Ivy Paige. And that’s when I started seeing loads of other performers. I remember seeing Dusty Limits for the first time and I knew that this genre would suit me. I love the slightly underground feel to it and I love that we make our own performance.
Once you made that decision, how did you get from Edinburgh to putting on your own show at Underbelly?
I’ve been really fortunate, I’ve had a lot of breaks really quite quickly. I hosted The London Burlesque Festival and from that gig in 2006 I was asked to be John Waters support act at the Hammersmith Apollo.
THE John Water’s the film director, that is really mad, isn’t it?
It was mad, totally mad. Obviously I’d trained as an actress, which is a whole different thing, and then you’ve got John Waters saying that he loved what I do and I was just hanging out in his dressing room talking to an absolute icon. And then also I supported The Puppini Sisters at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, so quite early on I was kind of launched quite high up the ladder, as it were, so that enabled me to start putting on my own shows. And at that point there was loads of cabaret clubs in London, so I was hosting for everybody and creating my own work. And over time it’s got bigger and more developed and became more professional. So all that, over time, led to what I did on TV earlier this year.
What made you decide to enter a programme like The Voice?
Obviously I’ve got a very striking look, but I knew that this particular singing contest is about what you sound like. I thought it was going to be great exposure, which ultimately is what you want. I knew that I, as Ivy Paige – would attract a lot of attention. I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy that, but it was all very tongue in cheek. And people say to me ‘Was it contrived what happened between you and Olly Murs on stage?’ Honest to God, it literally just happened.
So it was a good experience then?
Absolutely. In terms of reality TV shows, often they don’t understand cabaret acts. I don’t feel that was the case with The Voice. I don’t have a sob story, I have a really nice life actually. And it was important to me when I went into it to show people that cabaret isn’t a second rate industry and the singers in cabaret are not second rate singers, so I’m really happy that they showed that in my VT and I feel that I achieved that.
This coming Wednesday you are at Underbelly, with your show Seduction, and the ad for that features you seductively eating a hot dog…
Yeah, of course.
So what can we expect to see in the show Seduction?
It’s a preview show. One of the interesting things that came out of being on The Voice was I was constantly referred to as a seductress: my seductive voice, seducing act, seduction, seduction. So I’ve picked up on that idea and created a show exploring what seduction is, following in the footsteps of some of the masters of the art like Casanova, Cleopatra, Camilla Parker Bowles and more. So I look at in details the art of seduction, the games we play, and how we can use seduction to get what we want. And seduction means ‘to lead astray’, which is probably what I’m going to do with the audience to be fair.
And what else do you have planned for 2018?
I’m off to Edinburgh for the whole of August, which is very exciting, with lots of tour dates before then, and then after that I’m back on tour and then next year will be when we launch the new tour, so loads of stuff happening.