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Interview: Illy


This week we caught up with Melbourne’s Illy to chat about the inspiration behind his new single Oh My, collaborating with Tonight Alive’s Jenna McDougall on the track, and his upcoming tour plans!

You’ve obviously just released your latest single Oh My. I’ve just got to say, I love the references to TV shows Girls and Orange Is The New Black. Are you a fan of those shows?

I’ve definitely watched them. I’ve probably watched more Girls than Orange Is The New Black, but my ex-girlfriend was a big fan of both.

What made you want to write a song praising women?

Just that I’m very lucky to have had such strong, incredible women around me for my whole life. When I was making this album I kind of looked at that and realised I hadn’t really given them a shout-out, and I didn’t really want to do it in an over-dramatic or soppy way, I wanted it to be a fun song. The women in my family, my ex-girlfriend, old friends from way back, they’re fun people and I wanted the song to kind of reflect that attitude. So yeah, that’s kind of the basis for it. It’s one of my favourite songs on the album, if not my favourite. I really love everything about it, the whole vibe of the track, and I’m really happy that it’s finally out!

I think you did a really good job of capturing that fun feel. What women have inspired you in your life?

Well, my mum, my sister, and my grandma would be the first people, and my ex-girlfriend. The girls that I’m still in touch with from high school. I feel very loved, and I try to give that love back. I know I’m very fortunate to have these people. So yeah, they would be the influence for that.

When did you first have the idea to work with Jenna [McDougall] from Tonight Alive on the track?

The track was already there, I’d written the song and demo’d it. I knew the kind of vocal that I wanted but it was very hard to find someone who has that sort of voice. We tried a lot of people, and when Jenna was suggested I didn’t really know too much about Tonight Alive, as it’s not really my genre of music. As soon as I heard her voice I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s definitely approach Jenna and see if she’d be down’. And she was! Literally there had been maybe four or five months of trying to get a singer for it and not really finding the right one. As soon as she sent the vocals back it was like, that’s the one, exactly what we needed and what we’ve been waiting for, and it was perfect. No one else could have done it, it was her track I just had to find her. I’m so happy to have a track like that.

That’s lovely. You shot the music video together in LA, I believe?

Yeah we did, it was mad! It was at the end of the Canadian tour for me. Jenna flew over separately. All the boys in my band flew home, and I stayed on in LA for a day and a half, did the video, then came back home and was pretty much straight into the soundcheck at the Perth show for the start of the Australian tour. It was a real whirlwind!

The story shown alongside you and Jenna in Oh My is of a young girl building her race car, and her progress. How did the storyboarding for that work?

I’d worked with [Director] Mark [Staubach] on Catch 22 as well, so we had a bit of a rapport. He asked what the track was about; he had heard it, but he wanted me to put it into my own words. From there we sort of built the story around it, from what I’d said. There was a bit of back and forth, and I really liked the treatment and the way the video turned out. It’s a little bit of a different spin, but it’s the same sentiment of celebrating strong women, even though Breanna – the girl in the video – is obviously a young girl. It’s still about pushing through against the odds. The ability to keep going is a trait that all these women [that I know] have, and I’ve seen them go through that a lot of the time. On a personal level, it speaks to what I wrote the track for, and it’s also just a really cool video

I liked the ending as well, it was kind of nice to show perseverance.

Yeah, I was like, ‘I don’t know if it’s the right thing if she doesn’t win,’ but I saw where Mark was coming from with Breanna going back to the shed and working on it again. It showed her not accepting defeat and not taking any shit, so I thought that was cool.

So, you’ve just finished your Two Degrees Australian tour, do you have any plans to tour again this year – either internationally or in Australia?

Yeah, both, I think! We’re trying to work out some stuff with Europe at the moment, and we’re going to announce a big regional tour sometime in the next few weeks, so there’s a lot to look forward to. The second-half of the year is going to be spent mostly on the road, which is something I’m really looking forward to!

Check out the video for Oh My below!

Written by Sarah Bellamy