Illy‘s been consistently releasing extremely successful music for more than a decade, but he still gets nervous when he’s putting a new song out there.
The new single Loose Ends employs the excellence of G-Flip to give him a hand singing one of his more pop-tinged records of late. Seesawing between boom-bap, the edges of pop & moments that spread into dance music, Illy’s never afraid to give something fresh a go.
To chat through the new track, Nic Kelly’s in Bold, Illy’s in not-bold. This chat’s been condensed a bit for sense-making purposes, fyi.
How are you.
I’m just pacing around my apartment, because where else can I go in this fucking city? Other than that, I’m good.
Lockdown number two baBEY!
I read just before we started that there’s like, 320 or something cases today, so they’re about to shut everything down. This might be the last time I get a phone call out. I’m glad it’s with you.
They’re gonna put like a dome on top of Melbourne, so there’s no communication in and out. Just one big bubble.
I didn’t think that dystopian future was going to happen now, but I guess it is.
Well, hopefully people get to hear this song before the lid goes on. Very good track this is. I know you’ve tiptoed between some sounds in the last couple of years, but you’ve found a happy medium now, haven’t you?
Like, there’s always a bit of anxiety that goes into it anytime you kind of push into a different sound. I really love this track. I loved it from when the demo was written. But, yeah, you’ve got to take risks, right? What’s the point of this shit if you’re just gonna make the same song over and over?
Talk me through the bare bones of this song because you can hear that it was a really strong write already before G-Flip jumped on it.
So I did it with Cam Bluff. We went up for a writing trip to Darwin in September last year…
I just, I love Darwin! And we’re both from Melbourne. And we had a really nice place up there, we’ve got friends up there… it’s cold here and it’s hot there, basically! We just went up there and set up a studio. And basically we were there for ten days, the first day we put our stuff down, set up the ‘studes’ and then this was the first song that we did, and immediately, like, you know… Lean On Me took two years to go from where it started to finish, whereas this one, it was basically where it sounds now without G-Flip, that night. We both kind of knew it was going to be something cool. And then I sat on that for seven or eight months, sent it to G, she heard it, loved it, got on it and it was like hearing the song for the first time again because the demos that I do, it’s me singing… and when a real singer gets on there it’s always a thrill.
Do you still not think you’re a real singer?
I think I’m a real songwriter?! Singer’s still up for debate.
I mean, look, when you put you two together, she is doing some serious fucking vocal gymnastics at the end in that final hook, isn’t she?
Yeah, like I’ve been a huge fan of everything she’s put out basically, and we’ve been friends for a couple years, but I really feel – and I’m obviously biased – but I feel like some of her strongest work is on that song and I think she really demonstrates how much of a force she is when she belts out.
I suppose there is this kind of understanding of G-Flip of being this incredible multi-instrumentalist and able to do everything, but rarely do we focus on how much of an incredible straight-up vocalist she is and how incredible that voice of hers is.
100%. It’s really cool to have her on this track. Like I said, I loved the demo. I knew it was a strong song but when she came through and sent through her vocals and I could hear the track complete, it was like… fuck, man.
Is that why you actually got a feature on it, because you don’t trust your voice to be strong enough?
No… when I write a song, I kind of have an idea in my head of what is needed on it and this is just one where I was like, I think that this will sound better with a female vocal with me.
You love your duets don’t you.
I do! Not just the duets, but I know I’m a good songwriter, so I like having really talented people sing the shit that I write!
It must be a really fulfilling feeling hearing someone take your melody and your lyrics and take it into a completely new world.
Yeah, and also I have to say – I left the bridge part open – that’s G’s writing work there. Full disclosure.
I want to congratulate you again as well on Parmas In June because that was a proper great write from you again as well. You’re just knocking these hooks out of the park, that song turned into something very special, didn’t it?
It turned into something I didn’t expect or necessarily want it to! I don’t want to be affiliated with chicken parmigianas for the rest of my life, but it seems June is gonna be a tough month going forward. But it was cool. I mean, it’s always nice when you do something and don’t expect much from it and then it really catches on. I think it’s just been a crazy time and people were able to resonate with the sentiment behind it. It’s been a weird time. A song about Parmas catches on, what the fuck?