This year has been massive for Illy, with the success of his album Two Degrees spawning multiple tours and festival spots. The Melbourne rapper is currently on his largest tour yet, travelling across regional Australia to bring his music to remote towns and cities.
We caught up with Illy during some downtime on his Two Degrees tour to chat about the interesting things he’s seen in regional towns, who he’s keen to see at A Weekend In The Gardens, and his plans for heading back into the studio to make more music.
Music Feeds: You’re currently on your massive regional tour for Two Degrees, which is really cool as a lot of regional places don’t really get many artists coming through. What made you want to travel to smaller places?
Illy: Well, the album had been really well received and people wanted to see us play shows in these places, and we love playing live, and I love being on the road. It was kind of like a win-win situation, everyone was going to be coming out of it happy, so yeah, we just went for it. Before the album came out, me and the people who are involved with my career had a plan for doing this big tour, but it was completely dependent on how the album went. So, the fact that we’re doing the biggest tour of my career is kind of like, testament to the support Two Degrees has had since it was released last year.
MF: Has it been pretty smooth-sailing on the tour so far?
I: Yeah, it’s been sick! The WA leg was like 5000kms, eleven shows in sixteen days, so that was a pretty brutal one. We started the whole tour with that. We were all very excited at the start of those sixteen days, by the end of those sixteen days it felt like we’d all been hit by a truck. But, if we’d done it at any other point in the tour it would have just been impossible. Other than that though, everything is pretty cool. My voice is just coming back – I haven’t had it for the last two days, but it should be alright for North Queensland in a couple of days. It’s all good! They’re all such small things to complain about, I don’t even feel like complaining.
MF: Yeah, I can imagine it’d be quite tricky ‘cause you wouldn’t have a lot of days off on those larger tours.
I: Yeah, totally. The time that you do get off between shows, you kind of have to really go into hibernation and self-preserve. But after this North Queensland run, everything sort of spreads out a little bit. After this run of four shows, we then start doing mainly just weekends, like two or three shows a week which is way easier to handle.
MF: Are you on a bus for the tour?
I: Well, we’ve got a tour van and then flying and then tour van and then flying and then tour van [laughs], it keeps going.
MF: What do you do to pass the time while travelling?
I: Um, sleep [laughs]. Like I said though, we really want the shows to kick ass and when you’re doing like four or five shows back-to-back, then having a couple of days down, then repeating, you really do have to use the time down in-between just to get back to 100 percent, really. Or even 70 per-cent. Whatever percent you can get back to.
MF: You’ve probably seen quite a few weird and interesting things on the tour. Like, I know a lot of regional towns have giant fruit or animals as their mascots, have you seen any things like that?
I: I mean, probably the coolest things I saw was this place called Horizontal Falls, which is about 90 minutes by sea-plane north of Broome. It’s basically like a waterfall, but it’s horizontal, as the name suggests. So it’s like between two mountains, and when the tide is going in and out it gives this effect of a waterfall. That was probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen in my life. It’s definitely my highlight of the tour that’s not a show.
MF: You’re playing A Weekend In The Gardens later this year. It has a great line-up, who are you most excited to see?
I: To be honest, everyone on the line-up the day that I’m playing are friends. With Spit Syndicate and Thundas I’ve grown up with them, you know? Like, we’ve known each other over a decade now. Me and Spit Syndicate have known each other for, shit, probably 12-13 years now. Every time we link up with the Thundas boys it’s a really good party. I’ve never met Birdz, but I’ve heard some of his stuff and I’m looking forward to hanging with him as well. Pretty much the whole line-up is a home run!
MF: And across the three days too, that’s going to be super cool.
I: Yeah, and obviously Paul Kelly! I mean, you can’t go past Paul Kelly.
MF: Definitely! You’ve had great success with Two Degrees, what are your plans for next year? Is a follow-up planned?
I: This will be probably the last tour for the album cycle. I’ve already kind of got one eye on getting back into the studio over summer. As soon as this tour is done, really, I want to get back into the studio and start work on new stuff ‘cause I haven’t really gotten to make much this year and I’m missing being in the studio a little bit. Hopefully, I’ll have a track out before the end of the year, and then over the summer, I’ll really start to get some shit together.
MF: That’s super cool! So, you’ve started working on new music?
I: Yeah, I’ve got a handful of demos that I really like, and probably about 10 demos that are a bit whatever. Once I have a bit of downtime I’ll get straight into that, jumping in head-first, and hopefully have some shit out pretty soon!