Title Photo credit: Strykerfoto
On the second day of Summer Set Music Festival in Somerset, Wisconsin, I had the privilege of meeting Illenium (aka Nick). Illenium had just wrapped up his first of two sets that day. The first set was at the Big Top Stage, a large white tent, subtly decorated with wild patterned banners and bright up-lighting that lit up the tops of the tent in the evening. His second performance was scheduled at the end of the night where he would headline the after party along with Jauz. His Big Top performance was amazing and one of the first times I had seen that stage packed that weekend. Illenium played a lot of his famous remixes during the day like his remix of Kaskade's “Disarm You” and The Chainsmokers' “Don't Let Me Down” as well as some originals from his album “Ashes””. The after party performance started slow with Illenium's melodic sound, then dove straight into his hard-hitting remixes.
I told Illenium that it was only a couple of weeks ago where I had caught his afternoon set at Lollapalooza. A set he said, had a lot different feel. I agreed that the Lolla set had a lot more intimate and melodic vibe to it, since I slowly found myself being surrounded by couples making out to his music. We both busted out laughing, “Yes!” he exclaimed. After catching our breathes, I followed up by asking if love plays a big role in the music he makes.
“Absolutely. Honestly, that's one of the emotions that music creates without even having a partner or it just emphasizes having a partner. It exaggerates those feelings so much. That's why I love music so much is because it has the power to do that. Especially in a live element like that (The Big Top) where it's close.”
A big part of Illenium's sets, that I have seen, were the feature of his drum pads. I was curious if he was a big percussion guy or knew how to play any other instruments.
“I love those drums! I'm not really a drummer I just got into it since I started producing. I play some piano too.”
He mentioned that he also had a piano on stage with him that most people don't usually see. Since he was on an elevated stage during his set, I could see how that would be hard to show off.
“Originals you have more leeway because you can make a cool symphonic and maybe there's a vocal that lays on it. As far as remixes, I definitely search for really a sick melody that's manipulable.”
I mentioned how female vocals were huge in EDM tracks. Illenium mentioned he takes male vocals into consideration as well.
“I like uniqueness. There's a lot of people that can sound just like Taylor Swift or Kelly Clarkson or that poppy sound. I really like a unique sound, like the “Don't Let Me Down” vocalist, Daya. She has a super unique sound!”
Speaking of both “Ashes” and remixes, Seven Lions remixed Illenium's “Fortress” into a Trance track. The Trance sound of Seven Lions and the melodic sound of Illenium seems like a perfect fit. I asked Illenium if he felt the same.
“Yes I love Trance and I love Seven Lions! I like the sound of his music more than I like Trance.”
Sound Remedy is also featured on Illenium's album. The two have a track together on “Ashes” titled “Spirals”. Sound Remedy shocked everyone just one week prior with the announcement of his retirement. I asked Illenium if he's been in contact with Sound Remedy since the News.
“I haven't talked to him since about the time my album came out. He might come out with some other moniker.” Here's to hoping!
Besides hitting festivals and touring on his Ashes Tour, Illenium is also working on some huge collaborations. During his set, Illenium surprised everyone with a collab between Seven Lions and Said The Sky.
“I'm really excited for it! I have another collab with Marshmello. Also I'm waiting to drop this Flume remix”. Illenium played that remix of Flume's “Say It” during both sets that day, and the crowd went crazy both times it dropped.
Illenium also hinted at one more huge collaboration, which will be announced later. These collabs, along with new originals, will all play a role in his new album that he is currently working on.
I would like to thank Illenium for taking his time to meet with me in between two big sets he played that day. You can pick up Illenium's new album “Ashes” now and look out for his Ashes Tour to see if he's making a stop in a city near you!