Interviewed by Helen Vivas
Photos from The Confluence Group
Festival Squad had the honor of a recent interview with iLL. Gates:
- First off, your new album “Terminally ill” is insane! We are huge fans of it at Festival Squad. That being said, you mentioned that it took you over 3 years to complete this project. Why do you think it took you more time? And how was the creative process different for this album versus your EP’s and other albums?
I was on the road for like 3 years solid. I wrote and wrote and wrote and didn’t really think much about how it would all fit together. Just little snapshots of how I was feeling on the road. It took a while for all of the different places to make sense emotionally, so I broke it down into ‘Terminally iLL’ which is all the happy stuff with vocals, and then ‘Departures’ which is all of the stranger and deeper stuff. They’re each 14 tracks and then I’m most of the way through a third album that I’m tentatively calling ‘The Arrival’ to keep with the travel theme.
- Let’s talk about the title- Terminally ill. You mentioned that you created the title to be “a beacon of positivity in these dark times” during your facebook live stream. Can you elaborate on how you came up with the title and why you decided to take an alternative route with your album?
I call going to the airport being Terminally iLL because I am usually so exhausted that I want to die when I’m traveling. Travel is also very fun, and there is usually a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m going to keep doing this til I die, so that makes me Terminally iLL too.
- How did the different countries you were producing the music in help shape the album?
Australia was a big influence; I wrote Paradise Won there at the Paradise One compound’s music retreat titled ‘Rhythmic Seeds’. That place is amazing. It’s like a creative commune in the jungle where they grow all their own food and stuff. It’s just amazing. Anyway, Freq Nasty was there teaching yoga, and then Hugo the Poet and Dub FX both had workshops that I attended as well. They taught me how to rap and we all did a vocal track together! It was amazing. I also wrote Bamboo (Departures) there with a guy named Ben Walsh, who is this totally crazy percussionist. Really amazing. We made the song all out of sounds from the jungle around us. I can’t wait to put it out!
- You are known for your amazing collaborations. On this new album, you collaborated with over 10 people. What’s it like working with so many talented artists? Is there any collaboration that you haven’t done yet that you are eager to pursue? And who is your go-to person for collaborative fun?
It comes naturally to me. It’s more fun to play with other people than play by yourself. It’s not ‘working music’. It’s playing music!
I’d love to get a Bassnectar collab on my own album someday, but they always end up on his because he’s the big boss man. I love him.
I really want to work with more rappers, especially more established rappers. I’ve got a studio gig in NYC that I’m hoping will open some doors but I don’t want to say too much about it at this point.
- You’re known for you dark, edgy and incredibly heavy basslines. This album shows the audience that you are just as talented at using strong melodies in your tracks. My question to you is- what should fans be expecting next?
Departures is going to be a lot darker and deeper than Terminally iLL. It’s all ‘outside of the box’ stuff that sounds different from all my other music. I can’t wait!
- Okay- we can’t ignore the question about your style. Explain it to us! How does your atheistic style play a role in your music career and your creativity?
Everything in my life is a vehicle for expression. Every interaction, every weird haircut, every piece of clothing, everything. I try to make as many conscious choices as possible and to make people feel as much as I can.
- Lastly, looking forward to 2017- what should we expect to see from you?
I’m moving to NYC for this crazy studio gig. I have my other two albums to drop, and I’m going to be streaming a LOT.
Also: I’ve started a label for my students. If you want to learn from me and maybe have me put out your songs check out www.ProducerDJ.Club
Festival Squad readers- be sure to check out ill.Gates at on the East Coast at Basslantic in Atlantic City with other big names such as Bassnectar, Nosaj Thing, Caspa, The Widdler, and Ninth Child. And for our West Coast readers- ill.Gates will be at Lighting In a Bottle Music Festival and What the Festival.
Last but certainly not least, who doesn’t LOVE a GIVEAWAY!! Ill.Gates is holding a contest to win great prizes, including deluxe merchandise packs, meet-and-greets, and copies of his new album, Terminally iLL.
Enter the contest HERE.