Excessive drama may not be good for romantic relationships, but it can make for great song material, as evident in this exclusive premiere of “Killing You” from Ivy Levan featuring Sting.
The propulsive, melodic track from Levan’s Aug. 7 full-length Cherrytree/Interscope debut album, No Good, opens with a thumping bass, played by Cherrytree Records founder Martin Kierszenbaum, as Levan, 27, and Sting, 63, trade lines about someone who can’t help but sabotage her love liaisons before coming together for some delicious harmonies.
Levan, who wrote the song with her two primary collaborators, Lucas Banker and Patrick Nissley, as well as Kierszenbaum and Sting, admits she used to be her own worst enemy when it came to love. “I, in past relationships, have tended to go all in and was pretty crazy when it came to love and would battle with that,” the Bentonville, Ark., native says. “I would do the whole sabotaging thing with fights and what not and it would end up being a really bad break up. I think a lot of people can relate.”
Kierszenbaum introduced Levan to Sting, who is also on the label, at a Cherrytree event in November 2013. “I was like, ‘You have to let me meet him! Oh my God!’ and then we just instantly clicked and it became a really good friendship from there,” she says. So much so that shortly thereafter, Sting invited Levan to perform The Beatles’ “Drive My Car” with him on The Late Show with David Letterman in February 2014.
The mutual admiration society continues with “Killing You.” Banker, Nissley and Levan has already written the bulk of the song before they played it for Sting, who “jumped on the boat and added his magic to it,” Levan says.
The trio traveled to New York to track the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s vocals. And for the developing artist, it was as surreal an experience as one would imagine. “He’s in the vocal [booth] singing and you’re like, ‘Wow. That’s the voice I grew up with. That’s the iconic Sting that my mom played in the car’,” Levan says. “”It was very nostalgic in a way, but it felt very natural when we were working together.” Despite helping introduce her daughter to Sting’s music, Levan’s mom, unfortunately, was not invited to the studio. “No, no, no,” Levan laughs. “She would have lost her mind. She wouldn’t have been able to handle it.”
Sting’s vocal on “Killing You” marks a rare recent pop appearance for the rock star; he sung the lead on Afrojack’s EDM track, “Catch Tomorrow,” from the Dutch DJ’s 2014 album, Forget The World. Sting’s last album of pop-oriented material was 2003’s Sacred Love album.
The future single is available as an instant gratification track when fans pre-order No Good starting tomorrow (23). Banker and Nissley produced the bulk of No Good, while Diplo produced the track, “27 Club.”
The smoky-voiced Levan, who released the Introducing the Dame EP in 2013 on Cherrytree, can also be heard singing “Who Can You Trust,” the title song to Spy, the No. 1 comedy in the country.
For Levan, she’ll continue trusting in Sting, who has given her some pretty solid advice. “He said, ‘Just keep doing Ivy.’ He was very complimentary in that he saw that my vision was very me,” she says. “I was like, ‘Alright, as long as you keep being Sting.”
(c) Billboard by Melinda Newman