Ivan Knight and the Imaginary Friends (2020) is the first album release by Ivan Knight and the persona of Ivan Knight and the Imaginary Friends. The album started production back in the spring of 2019, when Ivan was still marketing himself as a solo artist. Over the course of the production, Ivan went back and forth from having a band, being a solo act and back again, which is why the album has a wide variety of instruments, arranging from live drums and guitars to hip hop production and classic synths. The album contains reworked songs from previous E.Ps such as "Welcome To My World" and "All Hail The King" and also features the three singles "A Trip To The Sea", "Heaven" and "Buddy Don't Go".
The album's origins started in 2019, when Ivan was suffering from a serious depression. Ivan was struggling to find work or write any new music, resulting with him coming up with a different album concept every day and trying to write songs around them to see which one worked for him. "I just felt like all my good stuff is made by accident, so the right album to make would be the one where everything comes to me at once and I write it all in a night rather than something I remain stuck on for months." Eventually, Ivan came up with an album concept that he supposedly came up with over 20 songs for. And although Ivan started the album in a dark state of mind, over the course of making the album, he felt more joy from writing songs and he felt inclined to write music as future album ideas came into his head. After a year and a half of recording songs, Ivan trimmed the tracklist down to 11 tracks with the help of his best friend Dylan Tann (Lead singer and Guitarist of Progressive Rock band 'Metora Cliffs').
One of the first major recording sessions for the album took place in Rockfield Studios, where Queen had recorded their magnum opus 'A Night at the Opera'. There, Ivan continued to write lyrics as he recorded piano samples included on Buddy Don't Go and Frog's Leap as well as drums for Welcome To My World. The rest of the recording sessions took place in multiple bedrooms as well as the University both Ivan and Dylan go to. Dylan started out as the lead guitarist in what was going to be a full band line up, but as Ivan wanted to take the direction in a more alternative hip hop direction, the guitars were subdued and rerecorded by Ivan Knight to be more minimal and less complex. The only songs were Dylan's guitar playing remains are Welcome To My World, Volcanic Love and Shut Down. The only other musician to feature on the album is Edward Tagg who plays Bass Guitar on All Hail The King. Ed was with the band for a very short time, but during that time he played Bass on 'The King E.P.' in which the title track was remixed and remastered to fit on this album. Ivan decided to keep Ed's bass parts as he felt 'they kept the song a garage rock tune and not just another weird hip hop mashup."
Ivan has cited Billie Eilish as being the main inspiration for the album, as according to him, that is the first album to break him out of his writer's block. He has cited Gorillaz, Twenty One Pilots, Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails and Juice Wrld as being major influences on the album's sound.
Initial reactions were generally positive, with the album scoring a 76 on 'Albumoftheyear.com'. A common element people praised was how the album dealt with many different genres and sounds but still felt concise and organised. People who had heard Ivan's previous E.P's expressed how the album was a vast improvement, citing the reworked tracks as being much better than their original counterparts.
Members of Flex Entertainment have cited "All Hail the King" "Dance or Die" and "Heaven" as some of the best songs on the album.
Youtube critic "BradTasteInMusic" praised the album for being an immersive journey and noted the heavy influence from David Bowie in the album. He cited Heaven and Shut Down as being two of the best songs from the album.
Time will tell how the album holds up, but Ivan plans to release a follow up album that continues the narrative of the Frog character the album repeatedly refers to.
- Welcome To My World
- All Hail The King
- Dance Or Die
- A Trip To The Sea
- Buddy Don't Go
- Volcanic Love
- Underwater Moonlight
- Frog's Leap
- Shut Down
(Hidden Track - Buddy Don't Go Reprise)
Ivan Knight- Vocals, Programming, Sampling, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Vocoder, Percussion, Ocarina, Melodica, Drums on Tracks 1 & 5
Dylan Tann- Drums, Backing Vocals, Ukulele, Guitars on Tracks 1, 6 & 11
Edward Tagg- Bass Guitar on Track 2