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Illy: 'Pressure Is A Privilege, It Means People Care Enough To Expect Something From You'

5 October 2023 | 3:41 pm | Jessie Lynch

"The aim is to always push yourself, so the demo folder has everything from alt-rock to drill. I still haven’t evolved to not wearing shorts on stage. Hopefully that’s for 2024."


Illy (Peter Donaghy/Canva)

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Multi-platinum and ARIA award-winning Australian artist Illy is back with a bang, delivering his latest anthemic single, Hopeless, in collaboration with LA-based singer, actress, and model Indiana Massara.

Produced by the talented duo of Xavier Dunn and Nat Dunn, the track showcases Illy's return to his festival-ready production style, seamlessly blending his hip-hop and pop influences.

Hopeless is a song about trying, and failing, to shake off someone you know maybe isn’t good for you, but that you love anyway,” Illy said of the new track.“It’s big and loud, and the chorus sounds like the feeling of finally admitting that yes, you’re hopeless with this person, but you’re also completely okay with that.”

Following his 2022 single Like You and the exciting news of signing with Warner Music Australia, Illy shows no signs of slowing down as he continues to make waves in the music scene.

Earlier this year, he made a mark by ranking #12 on the triple j Like A Version Hottest 100 with his Ausmusic Month Medley.

Currently, Illy is in the midst of an extensive 25-date regional tour, which kicked off in Fremantle on September 21 and is set to conclude in Frankston on December 23 — so we caught up with him between shows to chat about everything from the new collab, to what’s next for the Frankston-born hip-hop star.

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Congratulations on your new single Hopeless with Indiana Massara. Can you tell us about the creative process behind this collab and what inspired the song?

I wrote the first pass of Hopeless with Nat Dunn in 2019 and loved it straight away.

It was meant to be on the last album, but was always a song I knew I wanted to play live when it came out. So when the pandemic happened, and messed up releases but really flatlined touring, I pulled the song.

I got it reproduced earlier this year to refresh it, and when it came time to find the right voice for it, Indiana came through and was absolutely perfect. She’s killed it. So it’s been a long process but in the end, Hopeless has turned out exactly as it should, which is so satisfying after the journey it took.

In Hopeless, you mentioned blending hip-hop and pop influences. How do you approach combining these genres to create your distinctive sound?

Honestly, it’s a bit second nature. I love melody, love making music that people can have fun with but that translates well live, and have never tried to put on a persona.

The music I make reflects all of that. Also helps to work with really talented people, and leave your ego at the studio door.

You've said that Hopeless is about trying to shake off someone you love but isn't good for you. How do you draw from personal experiences when crafting your lyrics?

I think everyone does. If not like, autobiographical, then the experiences of those around you or that you’ve heard about. Again, if you’re authentic to yourself, it’s usually not too much of a stretch to be able to paint a picture.

Could you shed some light on your musical journey from Like You in 2022 to Hopeless and how your sound and style have evolved during this time?

Between Like You and Hopeless there’s been a lot of work. I’ve got a lot of demos, a new team around me, new bandmates, new collaborators, as well as some familiar faces too, so there’s been plenty of change in some ways, but the music and working on new music has stayed pretty consistent.

The aim is to always push yourself, so the demo folder has everything from alt-rock to drill. I still haven’t evolved to not wearing shorts on stage. Hopefully that’s for 2024.

You recently signed with Warner Music Australia, which is epic! How has this impacted your approach to music, and what can fans expect from this new phase of your career?

It’s not really impacted anything. I’m the only solo rapper from Australia to have 2 ARIA #1 albums - they know I know what I’m doing, and that’s what I do. They don’t need to get too involved. They’re good ppl who want to see me succeed, and win with me. I’m good with that.

You're about to kick off a 25-date regional tour. What made you choose to tour regional areas rather than the big cities?

I’ve been desperate to get back out on the road for literally years. 2020’s touring got wrecked, and then 2021 did too.

Two Degrees had about 80 shows in its cycle. The Space Between came and went with only 2 shows at launch. So this was really a call I made myself.

The capitals I want to come back to, but only when I have a new album. It really was just a case of wanting to reestablish some roots in a circuit I made my bones in.

You've had tremendous success in the Australian music scene, achieving multi-platinum status and winning ARIA awards. How do you handle the pressure and expectations that come with such achievements?

The achievements are whatever. I misplaced my arias years ago lol. All they mean is i have incredible support, that’s the important bit.

I am my own harshest critic, but not because of achievements, bc I care about the ppl who care about me, and support my music. I want them to love what I do. You don’t always hit that, but pressure is a privilege - it means people care enough to expect something from you.

I think you just take that in your stride, and if you fuck it up, don’t sulk, just go again. I think the people who support me know I do my best, and my skin is thick enough that the opinions of anyone else mean fuck all.

Looking back at your career, what would you say has been the most defining moment, and how has it shaped your artistic journey?

There have been a few. I have a few regrets about holding off releasing the last album in 2019 as originally planned, for obvious reasons haha. But overall, most risks I’ve taken have paid off and defined what came next… What a roundabout way of saying I can’t think of anything! specific.

What's next for Illy?

Finish this tour, release more songs, a new album early next year, more shows, more life.. all the good stuff. Can’t wait.


All ticketing details HERE

Thursday 5 October – Magnums, Airlie Beach QLD

Friday 6 October – Otherwise Bar, Townsville QLD

Sunday 8 October – Edge Hill Tavern, Cairns

Friday 13 October – King Street Bandroom, Newcastle NSW

Friday 20 October – All Seasons, Bendigo VIC

Saturday 21 October – Volta, Ballarat VIC

Thursday 26 October – Sussex Inlet Tavern, South Coast NSW

Friday 27 October – UC Hub, Canberra ACT

Saturday 28 October – Corowa RSL – Corowa NSW

Thursday 2 November – Miranda Hotel, Miranda NSW

Friday 3 November – Label, Brookvale NSW

Saturday 4 November – UOW Unibar, Wollongong NSW

Friday 10 November – Finnians Irish Tavern, Port Macquarie NSW

Saturday 11 November – Hoey Moey, Coffs Harbour NSW

Friday 17 November – Forth Pub, Davenport TAS

Saturday 18 November – Uni Bar, Hobart TAS

Friday 24 November – Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff VIC

Wednesday 29 November – Plaza Tavern – Werribee VIC

Friday 15 December – Downtown, Shepparton VIC

Saturday 23 December – Pier Bandroom VIC