Interviews / Music

Cliché Sits Down With IVA to Discuss her Amazing Career

A little about IVA: IVA is a Swedish-American crossover artist who has traveled the world, won numerous awards and has inspired countless aspiring artists through her vast experience and knowledge. Cliché caught up with IVA for a little Q&A we know you’ll love.

If you had to choose one, which title would best describe you?

A rare crossover artist, a songwriter, a bandleader, an art-song

interpreter, vocal teacher or an opera singer.


Good question – I think the most important role I have is as a rare crossover artist. I cross over from opera into popular music, I write my own songs and I mentor many students as well, crossing over from artist to teacher. 


You’ve had such a storied career so far. What is your most proud moment and why? 


My most proud moments have come through my teaching. I thought that some of the awards I have received or performances I’ve given were highlights until I began to see my students thrive and learned how letting them be seen was their true desire. That was also my desire, yet sometimes working as an artist has been quite lonely. I am surrounded by love now and my students and I have the joy of discovering music and their unique talents together. 


Tell us about your chance encounter with the casting director of Late Night with Conan O’Brien and what was it like to sing on the show.


At the time I was dating a man who was a big fan of Conan O’Brien and played with the idea of being a comedy writer. I was at the gym and there was a woman next to me in a Conan O’Brien jacket and sweats. I asked her where she’d bought them and she said she worked on the show. I asked her how someone got a job as a writer on the show, and she said one needed an agent but that she would be happy to arrange tickets for my boyfriend and I. I thought this would be my Christmas present to him. When I called her, she said they needed an opera singer to be part of their “staff talent show”. (Thank you, Cecelia!) That was incredible luck for me and I went in the next day to tape. We had a quick rehearsal and I made up a classical song that could go outside the range of human hearing. There was a dog in the audience cheering me on. I was worried it would be Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (“for me to poop on”) but it was a cute golden retriever in a top hat with opera glasses. I had a blast, and the casting director and I are still friends 🙂


What is your true passion in life and what are you currently doing to partake in your passion? 


My true passion in life … hmm … I think it’s to bring peace to people. I thought it was music, but it’s actually the peace that I find in music. I want to share that with the people I love, and really with as many people as I can. When I make music, I have a feeling of being whole and truly myself. I want to share that feeling with my friends, my family, my students and hopefully my listeners. This can be a tough world, and there is solace in knowing who you are — which is a feeling. May everyone know that feeling. 


What do you enjoy most and why? Writing songs, performing or composing concerts or something else? 


Concerts are my favorite. I get nervous and the rehearsing and preparing can be quite intense, but it is worth it to be able to share myself with many listeners. I have been told that I’m quite a deep thinker and willing to share my innermost thoughts, and being on stage singing my own songs seems to be the perfect way to share. 


Do you have plans for another album? 


Yes. I have recorded the first single and have many more new songs which I have been performing online during the pandemic as well as live now that we can play out. 

Is there an artist that you’d love to collaborate with?


I’m quite inspired by Florence and the Machine, as well as Maggie Rogers. I’d also love to sing with Josh Groban … I think our voices would complement each other. And my greatest wish is to write and sing with Paul McCartney. He is my musical spiritual father, and has been since I was five years old. I know I’m not alone in this, but a woman can dream, right? 


How has Covid-19 affected your life and career over the past year?


Phew … it’s been lonely as I live by myself. I’m an extrovert and I love to be with other people, so the pandemic made it really hard for me to feel the joy of laughing with another person. Thank God for the internet. I was able to make videos for “Adam and Iva” a comedy duo I have with my friend Adam Ollendorff, have online concerts and teach my students. I learned the guitar online as well with my teacher Geoff Bennington. And I was able to spend a lot of time with my father as my mother passed away right before the pandemic. Those were silver linings. I donated to Philabundance, a Philadelphia non-profit that provides food to the community. I was lucky to still be able to work, and I wanted to share that with people who couldn’t.


What is your favorite venue to perform at?


That is a tough one – I loved singing at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, and in the beautiful big park in the center of Stockholm called Kungstradgarden. I also loved performing on the Philadelphia Waterfront Stage and on the waterfront in Karlstad, Sweden for the Swedish American of the Year award events. I’d love to perform in Central and Prospect Parks in New York as well. And perhaps someday at the Philadelphia and Metropolitan Operas. I think my absolutely favorite place is the World Cafe Live. They’ve hosted me many times and I hope to return with my new music once the dust of Covid clears. 


How did you first get involved in music and the creative arts? Did you have someone that you looked up to growing up or someone who strongly influenced you? 


I grew up in a musical family. My grandparents played multiple instruments and sang, and my father had a huge record collection he played on Saturday mornings for us. Our across-the-street neighbors were classical music lovers and exposed me to a great deal of music as well. When I was nine, a woman named Evelyn Swenson, a friend of my grandparents, invited me to sing at Opera Delaware where she was conducting and composing children’s operas. She gave me my start on the stage, and I was hooked. 


Do you consider yourself an Opera singer or Pop singer and why?


I consider myself more of a pop singer. Currently I don’t sing in staged operas, and I love writing my own music. However, I’ve decided to tie these together as I am working on an opera called “Inside Out”. It’s about my experience as a victim of domestic abuse from an intimate partner. It was one of the most confusing and terrifying experiences I’ve ever been through and I was confounded by how it consumed me for many years. I finally left the relationship and have healed over many seasons to be able to write this opera. I feel stronger than ever, in fact. I know myself and what matters to me and I better understand the darkness in this world. That is part of why I’d like to bring peace and self-knowledge to others as I’ve experienced for myself. Both the victims and the abusers benefit from healing and self-awareness. Life can change – we can change. But we need to accept and understand where we’ve come from and what we’ve been through. I hope my opera can transform a difficult experience into an enlightening one and change the conversation about domestic abuse from being a cultural norm to being seen as the dangerous disease that it is, a disease for which we must, we will, find a cure. 


What can we expect from you in the near future? Are you working on any projects?


See above 🙂

How can fans best connect with you?


Connect with me on my website at

Follow me on
Instagram, you’ll find many home and live performance videos there, and you can see my fur baby Moxie there. 


Facebook and YouTube are great places to connect with me as well. My music can be found on all major streaming platforms: Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon. 

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Image provided by Shervin Lainez

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