“About to blow,” Queen of UK Drill, Ivorian Doll (also known as IVD) is making more noise than ever. Dropping heat through 2020, her hard-hitting lyrical flow has had the internet talking non-stop. Starting her career as a YouTuber, becoming a female drill artist, Ivorian Doll has attracted love from the UK to the US. Ready to go on tour for 2021, PAUSE Her caught up with Ivorian Doll to discuss her transition to an artist, thoughts on the pressure of surgery and deleting social media apps.
Meet The Team
- Photographer: Danika Lawrence
- Videographer: Kash Hussain
- Stylist: Felicia Brown
- Stylist Assistant: El-Shaddai Nyagodzi
- Hair Stylist: Philip Eric Hair
- Make up: Mahina Makeup (Using TooFaced, KVD Beauty, MULAC and Nudestix)
- Location: LINNAEAN Salon
- Interview: Johnson Gold
Did the Ivorian Doll back in school know she would be an artist called Ivorian Doll in the future?
Basically, when I was in year seven, everyone was coming up with tag names. So that’s when everyone was like “call me this,” “call me that” and then my friend said to me “why don’t you call yourself Ivorian Doll?” because I’ve always been into make-up so I’ve always done long lashes. I changed my Facebook name to Ivorian Doll but Ivorian Doll was supposed to be a make-up artist; I was supposed to be doing make-up and hair, music was never on my mind. Literally, music was on my mind last year  and as soon as I started I was like “why don’t I just do music?” It was never planned.
Where did you grow up in London and tell us about your life before the hits, views and fame. What were you doing before all of this?
I was born in Germany and I came to London when I was 3. Me and my family were just moving around a lot. Moving everywhere: Upper Clapton, Lower Clapton, Finsbury Park… everywhere around. I went to an all-girls school, called The Haggerston and then I moved out of the area and went to St Charles which is in West London. I went there and that’s when I left everyone and got to know people from south, people from north-west and that’s when I started getting a name because I knew so many people from everywhere, not just Hackney and then people were like “why don’t you do YouTube?”. I had a friend Ella Rose and she was doing YouTube so I used to jump on her channel and people were like “do your own,” so I started and that’s kind of where it began. I started doing YouTube, then started doing Instagram pictures and becoming an influencer.
Going into that, a lot of people don’t take influencers seriously. You started your career as a YouTuber, then transitioned into female drill artist. Was this your strategy and did your followers support the change?
Music was never the plan but I’ve always loved drill music. So when I go on YouTube I do drill playlists as well, so I was putting on people that did drill. It was really negative but I just kept going and people started liking it.
Where did your lyrical flow spark from?
In school, in year 7 we used to do rap battles with boys from other schools. So I used to write peoples raps but then you do it as a joke and I was very good at English, top set, so I don’t know. I used to love writing and we used to write poems. Shakespeare was my favourite so then maybe when I think about it now, it all adds up.
You feel like it’s a hidden skill that you had but you didn’t even realise?
That I never knew! But I was always into drama, I performed at Hackney Empire Theatre. I’ve always been a drama person but never music.
What do your parents think?
Do you know what’s funny? My dad’s a pastor. So at first, he was “okay,” but he’s never judged me because I dropped out of university and I was like “I want to be a YouTuber.” He bought me my ring light, he bought me my camera and then I was like I want to do music and he was like “okay.” He’s been very laid back, he’s not got the African mentality of “go to school”.
And you seem like a really sweet girl.
Your music’s the opposite.
Exactly, when you meet me it’s not making sense. You would think I’m like…
I feel like when you go in the booth it’s different.
Like a persona?
Do you feel like you express your pain through your music?
I don’t express pain because I don’t know about the emotional side but I express my anger. So what people say about me, I express through my delivery… I’m that bitch. It’s like a personality thing.
Alter ego! As soon as I go into the booth.
Yeah, but here like normal it’s Vanessa. Vanessa’s quiet.
Your Rumours song has hit over 4 million views, wow! How do you feel?
It’s okay. It’s okay because I compare myself to American artists and 4 million views to them (it’s not that much). My manager does say “you’re hard on yourself, you’re in the UK, you’re female, 4 million views on your own channel.” I’m like okay but I want to be a global artist so I’m trying to compare myself to them. I’m grateful but it could be better. I don’t believe in being complacent.
You’re thinking big.
Yeah, 25 million in 2 days! That’s where you want to go and it’s possible. I’m doing it! I’m going to get there.
You started your career as a duo and they always say it gets lonely at the top. How have you coped being on your own?
It’s funny because I had this conversation yesterday with one of my friends and I was telling her I’m really lonely. Being in a duo I had someone to lean on. You won’t be scared to go out and perform because you’re with your friend. No-ones going to call you to say wake up, no-ones going to remind you. It’s all you. It does get a bit lonely because I’ve realised as you’re climbing, some of your friends who don’t do music, are not the same anymore. So it’s like “can I come here?” and it’s like “no” not even in a rude way, I would love to take you but I can’t. It kind of makes you a bit depressed when you first enter that because they think you changed.
The ones that understand will always be there by you.
Always be there and these are the friends I’ve grown up with. So they’re like “when I see you it’s the same, it’s just busy” and I’m like thank God. And I’ve become more spiritual because I’m alone. When you’re alone you talk to God because you get scared telling people your problems because everyone uses every opportunity to kind of draw you out. I just talk to God about everything.
How do you feel with social media, it can be so negative these days especially in this generation. How do you navigate yourself through the drama and tell me five things you do to boost your happiness and ignore the hate?
Okay so what I do, I tell everyone, if it’s out of sight it’s out of mind. So if I delete the app, it’s not there. Online feels like a crowd, everyone’s attacking you, you’re reading it and it’s hitting you, but if it’s not there, it’s not real. So I delete the app if something’s negative.
You delete it?
I delete Twitter. I don’t delete my account, I just delete the app and I’ll stay off the app for a week and I’ll come back and everyone’s moved on. I feel like before I would try and address things and it’s making it worse because you’re trying to explain yourself to people who don’t really care. They just like the drama.
They want a reaction from you.
They want a reaction so I’ve realised, if I don’t say anything people will leave me alone, they’re like “she’s not going to reply anyway, so just leave her.”
And things that make me happy, being alone. Watching movies. It’s so weird, I’m into dinosaurs and documentaries; I’m so weird! I’ll sit at home and watch a documentary about the universe, crystals.
It just relaxes the mind.
It relaxes it. I do that, friends come over and then we just talk. I want to know about their life rather than mine.
How about cleaning?
How do you know that? I’m obsessed.
I think I saw that on your Snap one time. Someone came in, you said, “take off your shoes.”
Yeah, I’m a germophobe. I clean all the time. I have a white carpet on purpose so you come in, you take off your shoes. I clean 24/7; it’s therapeutic.
And where do you go to vent? Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram?
Snapchat. Snapchat friends story, not main. I wouldn’t do my main because I don’t want people to think I’m upset. You don’t want people to think “oh she’s upset today, yes!” So I do it to my friends.
You’ve done so many hair looks already, tell me which has been your favourite look so far and why?
Blonde will forever be my favourite look because it makes me feel like Ivorian Doll. Blonde is so beautiful, I don’t know it’s just like Barbie and I try to go for that Nicki (Minaj) Barbie look.
Who is your celebrity male crush?
You know what! People might be like “ew!” Fivio Foreign because he’s weird. I don’t like the norm, he’s very weird and I want to know more. He’s my crush.
I see you vibing on social media with the Americans. DreamDoll mentioned you on a live, you did a track with Saucy Santana. What is your ideal US collaboration and why?
Megan Thee Stallion. Everyone knows Nicki Minaj so that’s why I’m not going to say it. Everyone knows. Meghan because I feel like we’re both so energetic.
In fashion and music females get compared to every single day. Females digging other women and being told they have to look a certain way. How do you deal with female comparison?
To me, my managers taught me that if someone copies you, see it as a compliment. The old me would have been like “why you copying me?”. It’s hard enough already being a female in a male-dominated field, and it’s like why do all the females have to argue? When all the men are doing long line-up collabs and all the girls are like “oh I’m beefing her,” and it’s not real beef. It’s not real! So when people compare me I’m like “okay fine.” I don’t mind, I don’t care because every female should be helping each other instead of “I’m better than you, I’m better than you,”; it’s not good.
The younger generation sometimes get peer pressured to get surgery, I can see you’re standing by your natural beauty. Have you ever been peer pressured too?
I’ve been influenced. So when I first started I was a bit insecure. It’s sex appeal and natural’s not sex appeal in America’s eyes. For me, it was like the bigger you get you’ve got to start enhancing breasts, bum and you’ve got be sexy. But after a while, I was like you know what, I want to be different. If I cross over and become global I want them to be like “oh she didn’t even do anything, she’s popping”. I want to be natural then.
What advice would you give to women to love themselves more?
Not everything you see is amazing, beautiful. Half these girls that get it (surgery) done have problems, complain about pains, complain they’re going in to have surgery, you’re scarring your body. If you don’t like scars don’t do it, if you don’t like pain don’t do it.
It’s a cycle, we’re going to pass it and then you’re going to be upset that your bums big and everyone’s trying to be all slim again. Just leave it, wait for the trend to end.
Where do you see yourself going when it’s safe to travel?
Straight flights everywhere. We’re doing my own tour, we’re working on that. Flying out, I speak to a lot of American people so we’re going straight there, then I’m going to Paris. I want to travel so people can get to know me and start going to events abroad rather than just London.