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There's a small hip hop artist by the name of Illy, and by small we actually mean huge. This Melbourne musician only landed a deal with Obese Record last year, but his career has heated up faster than a Victorian summer, with Illy being invited to play at Pyramid Rock and getting lots of love from magazines and radio all around Australia with his beats and raps.
Illy tells Paper-Deer about how you can succeed if you sweat a little (literally).
The name Illy makes me think of “ily” (I love you). Where does the name come from?
[Laughs] It doesn’t come from that! I only got told about “ily” meaning “I love you” recently. Other things it’s been associated with are "illy", which in a gangsta rap context means “you’re a legend”, and Illy, the international coffee brand. But really, it’s just a nickname I’ve had since I was a kid. No exciting story unfortunately.
You only signed on to Obese Records in March last year, and it seems like your career has skyrocketed in this time. Are you still pinching yourself?
Yeah, it’s been a real trip with how everything’s gone, very heavy. I'm loving it all. It’s nice to know that what you get told is true - if you actually want something and work for it you can get it. Maybe I will become the first Australian spaceman president to captain Manchester United after all.
So we’ve heard about how you’re getting your fans to send footage of themselves singing for the video of Pictures. Funniest clip you’ve received so far? Most amazing location so far?
Yeah, we got quite a few! One in particular was from two girls living in Dubai who took it in their apartment on what must have been at least the sixtieth floor overlooking everything. The funniest was probably a dude singing the words, and when it zoomed out he was riding a cow. Weirdo. Shame we didn’t end up making the video. It would’ve been great.
Triple J love you. Your second album The Chase is now a Feature Album with the station, and they’ve been pumping out It Can Wait (feat. Owl Eyes) all week long. What does all this attention feel like, considering the Jays have a reputation for being “it” in the Australian music world?
It’s great. I love Triple J, no lie, and have grown up listening to it. It was very special on Australia Day to have our traditional Hottest 100 BBQ at our place with about fifty mates, and actually be in the countdown. That was a great feeling, and their support is unreal. Very trippy to actually know these people on a personal level, because I’ve listened to them for so long. And beyond that, there really isn’t a station like it in the world, no exaggeration. You really realise that once you’ve travelled, and we as listeners – not just artists – are very lucky to have it.
What would you say to someone who can’t decide if they should part with their pennies to pick up The Chase?
Look under the couch cushions, you tight arse!
Are you excited about Pyramid? What was your reaction when you found out you would be playing there?
Yes very. My reaction was one of pure unadulterated joy haha. I’ve been there as a punter a few times in the past, so to actually be a part of it is going to be huge.
And what will you be doing when the clock hits midnight on New Year’s?
I'll be partying for Australia, beer in each hand, with my mates.
You’ve shared stages with some awesome peeps like Phrase, Bliss N Eso and Dialectrix. Any artists that you’re just dying to work with?
I would love to do a track with BNE. I’ve known them for years and they’re real influences on me. Aside from hip-hop, I would love to do a track with Xavier Rudd, Megan Washington, Hayley Mary from The Jezabels or Regina Spektor.
Any embarrassing secrets about yourself as a musician that you can tell Paper-Deer?
I sweat a disturbing amount onstage. It’s gross and I have to apologise to people I take photos with after. All that, and I still refuse to not wear a beanie on stage! Dumb ass…
|Illy's The Chase, out now.|
- Friday November 5: The HiFi
- Friday November 26: Yahoo Bar, Shepparton
- Friday December 31: Pyramid Rock Festival, Philip Island