ILLENIUM Interview @ Slim’s SF 05.14.16

*interviewed by Nick (with Amy in attendance)

I Heart Moosiq was blown away by Colorado based San Francisco native ILLENIUM’s sold out show at Slim’s in San Francisco with SAID THE SKY and SF’s own Electric Mantis in support. It was a magnificent evening, the crowd was flying high on cloud nine, and ILLENIUM even found time to sit down and chat with us. Read our interview below.

I Heart Moosiq: Welcome back home. What was the first thing you had to do when you got back to SF?

Illenium: To be honest I haven’t even had the chance to do anything yet. I got in at 5:30 then we just booked it [to Slim’s] to finish setting up and doing soundcheck. Then we went down the street and got some really good German food. After the show I get to hang out at my parent’s house tomorrow.

IHM: Are they actually here at the show?

Illenium: My dad is, my mom is flying back tomorrow. She’s in Europe on a family trip with my sisters. We have a show in Santa Cruz tomorrow so we’re driving down there tomorrow then back up. I’ll have Monday and some of Tuesday off. Gotta head back down to LA Tuesday for another show.

IHM: Tomorrow’s show at Santa Cruz, is it at The Catalyst and have you been there before?

Illenium: No, I’ve never even been there before.

IHM: It’s a warm venue. It gets really hot in there since it’s small.

Illenium: We were originally  going to do a smaller room there but then we sold out really fast. So we moved to a bigger room which I’m really excited for.

IHM: Cool. I wanted to ask you what made you move from SF to Colorado.

Illenium: You know I just love the mountains and I love skiing. It was also a point in my life where I needed a little change. I kind of got into some shit in San Francisco that wasn’t the best for me, then I needed some space from it. Colorado really worked for me and I’m grateful for it because that’s where I found music. San Francisco though is still my favorite city. The city itself is so beautiful and a lot of inspiration comes from here for me. I could potentially move back here one day, but it’s much cheaper in Colorado.

IHM: Definitely. Where are you in Colorado?

Illenium: Denver. I originally moved to Aspen for about two years, then I moved to Denver about three years ago.


IHM: How long did it take for you to meet Said the Sky over there?

Illenium: I met him over two years ago and we moved in together with Sean, my tour manager, after about a month and a half after we met. We figured this is kind of working so let’s try it and it’s the best roommate situation ever.

IHM: And you guys have a few songs together.

Illenium: Yeah, so pretty much everything we make we help each other with it. Like he’s helped me so much with the music theory side. I’ve had a little bit more of the production and mixing. Everything is collaborative in a way. We help each other in any way we can.

IHM: So when you decided to do the tour you were just like, “Yup, gotta bring him along”?

Illenium: Yeah man, I love his music. It’s always been an inspiration to me and I feel like as he keeps growing … you know … it’s such a great opportunity to check this guy out if you haven’t seen him. He plays awesome music live. It’s an opportunity for me to tour with two of my best friends.

IHM: It’s my first time seeing him and I love his energy. He looks really happy to be up there and enjoying himself. It makes me feel happy for him and I don’t even know him personally.

Illenium: It’s contagious. He’s an awesome dude.

IHM: How do you find vocalists for your tracks?

Illenium: You know vocalists, it’s kind of tricky sometimes. I personally love working on a song that’s very bare. Like pretty much progression and a rough structure and then getting a vocal and building everything around it. Or literally getting an acapella and building around that. I’ve had a lot of fun just making tracks and putting vocals on top of it – it gets a little tricky because when you’re making it and building it around the vocal, it’s easy to mix it. If you’re making a track without the vocal then it’s like mixing a huge element. But as far as finding a vocalist, that’s where my tour manager Sean is insane. He digs into soundcloud very deep. He use to work for the EDM Network and use to run a few channels and they were all indie-vocal stuff. You also just got to reach out. You reach out to 20 and maybe one or two respond.

IHM: That’s cool. I didn’t know if people would go to open mics and other local shows to find artists.

Illenium: I wish it was more like that. I’m sure it use to be like that. Probably doesn’t happen much for me because I don’t leave the house much. It is kind of tricky because there is recording technique that goes into that you might not see it with a live singer. I’ve worked with amazing vocalists but sometimes recording their voice can be tricky. Which is a fun element for me.

IHM: I wanted to ask about your logo. To me it looks like a phoenix.

Illenium: It is a phoenix.

IHM: That makes a lot of sense with your album being “Ashes”.

Illenium: That’s the whole symbolism of me moving from San Francisco and coming from a place where – not that San Francisco is that place but where I was – the whole rebirth aspect.

IHM: The phoenix is my favorite mythological creature.

Illenium: By faaaar dude. I just finished watching all six Harry Potter movies too.


IHM: Oh yeah, I noticed at the merch stand that you have the ‘Ashes’ vinyl for sale and it’s signed. Do you always do cool stuff like that?

Illenium: Yup, all these “Ashes” tour shows we do. There were a few shows where we didn’t have any because it sold out so quick. Hopefully we make it through this weekend.

IHM: That is pretty cool. Since you’re living in Colorado, have you have ever performed at Red Rocks?

Illenium: Yes, yes I have.

IHM: How is it? It looks like a beautiful venue.

Illenium: It is. It’s so dope. It’s one of my most favorite venues. It’s so scenic. It’s very special because of where my music started at. Moving to Colorado and I got really inspired when I was at Red Rocks as a normal person attending a concert. So I was like, “I want to play there one day”, and that day was about four years later.

IHM: I love that. Out of all the venues I want to visit I want to go to Red Rocks and…

Illenium: The Gorge.

IHM: Dude, yes!

Illenium: I’m actually playing The Gorge this year.

IHM: Sasquatch?

Illenium: Paradiso.

IHM: That view is going to be pretty cool. Speaking of festivals how excited are you to be playing at Lollapalooza?

Illenium: Extremely excited. I’ve always looked at it as like a really huge festival. It’ll be really fun.

IHM: It’s one of my favorite festivals so I’m really excited to go back there.

Illenium: Yeah, I’ve never been but I really love Chicago.

IHM: They have really good food.

Illenium: It’s on the lake too, so it’s really nice.

IHM: Well I’m looking forward to see you play there and thanks for taking the time to interview with us.

Illenium: Thanks. I’m happy to be back in San Francisco playing a sold out headlining show. And thanks so much for your guys’ support. I’ll be back in San Francisco soon.


There are a few dates left for ILLENIUM’s mostly sold out ASHES TOUR, make sure you catch him while you still can, it’s an exhilarating experience.

ILLENIUM: Facebook / Soundcloud / Twitter

Stream Illenium’s debut album ASHES in full below, and purchase on iTunes.

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