Whether you revel or recoil in response to Australian rap flow, the facts are clear: Illy is dominating his lane. You can’t deny an artist who has released five studio albums. That’s an admirable body of work when you consider that an average listener maintains the attention span of precisely three minutes – give or take. Illy was nominated for an impressive six Aria awards, about to embark on a sold out tour and his track ‘Papercuts’ with Vera Blue reached double-platinum sales status. Given the success of ‘Papercuts’ it is inevitable that expectations are high for his follow up single ‘Catch 22’ with British vocalist Anne-Marie (who ironically jumped on the track because of his Australian accent). The pair aren’t too worried about it, I mean collectively the pair are a sure thing, but also because they’ve been busy hanging out in LA playing video games and riding around in a DeLorean. We got an exclusive behind the scenes look at Illy and Anne-Marie filming the video for ‘Catch 22’ which you can watch below:
Illy took a timeout in the arcade to chat to us about the importance of collaboration in his five-album long journey. Watch the official video for ‘Catch 22’ with Anne-Marie then read on:
ACCLAIM: Working with M-Phazes has been consistent along your musical journey. How has that partnership helped to grow your sound? Do you feel like you have evolved together?
ILLY: It’s definitely played a part in my story. I think we’ve both grown a lot over the years separately, so every time we come together we are better and because of that history we are able to get the best out of each other and really make it work well.
A: Talk us through your new album Two Degrees. What is it about this release that differs from your previous releases? Do you think that translates to listeners?
I: Two Degrees is really just the latest example of that growing up and getting tighter as an artist, and branching out creatively. It’s definitely the most confident I’ve been. There are a lot of new sounds I’ve gone for, which I may not have been ready to go for in the past, especially moving away from just rapping. I really tried to push my songwriting side on this one. I think that, for better or worse, people have definitely been able to tell. Changing style is always gonna be a love/hate thing for people, but I love it all, and I can’t please everyone so that’s all that matters.
A: The two lead singles are very different propositions. Why do you think ‘Papercuts’ with Vera Blue resonated so well with listeners? What reaction do you anticipate from your fans for your new track ‘Catch 22’ with Anne-Marie?
I:I think ‘Papercuts’ is a unique track as far as Australian hip-hop goes. I wouldn’t even call it that, but from an artist who came from an Australian hip-hop background, it’s unique. And the combination of that huge beat and amazing vocals by Vera just worked. I also think people can relate to the lyrical side of it, of being in a self-destructive relationship. It’s all a part of it.
‘Catch 22’ is a different vibe and is a bit lighter. I think people have responded well to it because it’s just a good song really lol. Anne Marie is brilliant and it just works as a track.
A: You shot the video with Anne-Marie in LA which was really just the two of you hanging out playing video games. How was that experience? What’s Anne-Marie like to work with?
I: It was sick. She’s a legend. She was in the middle of her first US promo tour, and was super sick the day of the shoot, but she came through and smashed her performance. Spent a few days around the shoot with her and her crew, and they’re all such great people. It’s good seeing good guys win so I’m really happy that everything is going so well for her right now.
A: How important has collaboration been for you over the years? What’s the best and worst thing about having to share your space creatively?
I: It’s been a huge thing for me. I write almost everything on my albums, all the hooks etc, but I can’t sing them as I hear them in my head. I would struggle to write for just my own voice as it would be pretty limiting on what my tracks are capable of sounding like, so being open to collaboration is crucial for what I do. The best thing is simple: just getting the finished version of a track that sounds incredible, from when it was just a melody in my head. Seeing that executed is sick. There’s not really too much downside as I write by myself so I’m only sharing the part I’m comfortable sharing. It’s all good.
Illy ‘Two Degrees’ Australian Tour
With special guests Papercuts, Paces, & Maribelle
Saturday March 25: Metropolis, Fremantle
Friday March 31: Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Saturday April 1: Festival Hall, Melbourne
Friday April 7: Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Saturday April 8: The Tivoli, Brisbane
You can buy Illy’s album ‘Two Degrees’ here.