On his process for making music: “I’ll wake up in the morning and still be in a not-so-lucid state from just being asleep. It feels like I’m still in the dream state and I’ll just walk right into my recording room and just go to work. It’s kinda like my evil layer. (Music) comes to me in so many different ways. I used to write a lot. But now I kind of just hit Record and go and go and go.”
How he got serious about his craft: “I was always into art. I really got into music when I was 13 or 14 years old. Back then I was listening to a lot of Busta Rhymes, Eminem and Twista. At the same time I was singing in church. Music turned out to be a new way to express myself when I was younger. I got more of a reaction from people from my music than I did with my stories.”
On albums that impacted him: “Musiq Soulchild’s first album, ‘Aijuswanaseing,’ had a big impact on me. I was going through a lot at the time. The song ‘You’ll Be Alright,’ I had to listen to it every night before I went to sleep. I just got to the point to where I’d sing the entire album every day in the house. I could do all of the runs, including the high one at the end of ‘Love.’ I also listened to Raphael Saadiq’s Instant Vintage and D’Angelo’s ‘VooDoo.’ ”
Defining Irv’s musical style: “It’s called Def Metal Gospel (his label). It’s def like hip-hop. Metal speaks to the rock ’n’ roll and gospel speaks to the soul music. As a human being you don’t just have one aspect to your personality. You have different layers and I’m definitely like that as a person, so musically I try not to stay in one place. I’ve got a wide range of emotions that I go through and I try to express that through my music.”
The song that best represents who Irv is: “I have this new album that I just put out, ‘Who the F#@k is Irv Da Phenom?’ The album as a whole is giving people a chance to get acquainted with me, with who I am. The one song, I’d say that best speaks to who I am … I’d say ‘Head in the Clouds.’ It’s about breaking form that normal path that people take. You have to believe in yourself, know that you can break off and do something different. When you believe it, you do it. A lot of people thought I had my head in the clouds, but stuff is working out so I encourage that.
On what Kansas City’s given him: “I feel like here in Kansas City, it’s not all that glamorous. Things are based on hard work and earning your position. It’s not easy. On the West Coast, things tend to be different. People out there can take things for granted. But here in the Midwest it’s more based on working for what you want. That mentality rubbed off on me. A lot of people remember me out in 30-degree weather selling CDs in the snow.”
What he takes from KC with him on the road: “Everywhere I go, I always have my KC fitted (Royals’ baseball cap). It’s a staple that I have to take with me. People look at you like ‘What is Kansas City?’ Then they say ‘Kansas’ and start talking about cows, but it’s cool to be able to introduce something to people that they aren’t familiar with. We’ve got a lot of work to do to let people know we’re here. In Kansas City we have a lot of art and artists that don’t have an outlet. Whenever I have the opportunity, I’d like to help create that for them.”