Platinum-selling Australian hip hop artist Illy adds to the growing list of top acts dropping in to Port Macquarie.
His latest album Two Degrees went to No.1 on the ARIA charts on release and kick started his desire to head out on his most extensive tour of Australia to date. It includes the far reaches of the country – Port Hedland, Launceston, Toowoomba, Cairns, Warrnambool, Newcastle, Mildura and Albury. It follows on from his largest ever capital city tour, featuring sold-out shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane earlier this year.
Illy has taken to the road with Groovin’ The Moo Festival twice, along with a previous regional headline tour three years back. He says he is “really psyched” to be doing regional stops again.
Album Two Degrees includes the single Oh My featuring Jenna McDougall; the triple platinum ARIA Award-nominated and APRA Award-winning single Papercuts with Vera Blue; the double platinum Catch 22, a collaboration with UK powerhouse Anne-Marie; and live favourite You Say When featuring Marko Penn.
From the age of 12, Illy was writing music, originally playing it out on the drums. “As soon as I started listening to hip hop I gravitated towards it,” he says. “Music will influence young people who listen to it.”
His parents were very supportive and just wanted him to be passionate about what he did. He says hip hop gets a bad rap, but it can be incredible inspiring. “You don’t have to dig too far to find the beauty.”
Some of his favourite performers are Jay Z, Biggie, Kanye and Australian hip hop artists Hilltop Hoods, who he says were a huge influence on him.
The fans that make up his audiences are a wide-ranging group. “Being 31, I’ve been around for a while but some younger kids are coming through to hear my music.”
When he writes a song he says the music comes first. “I draw on the energy of the music to come up with a topic. When I write, I have an idea of the vocals I want, but you are setting yourself up to fail if you have someone in mind [to collaborate with] and they can’t do it.”
The standouts for him on his album Two Degrees are the title track and Oh My. ”They’re my personal preferences,” he says. The title came after all the tracks were down. “It sums up where I am at and my thinking.
“In a speech President Obama gave he said ‘incremental change over time is the only way to make a lasting change’. This album is a different sound for me, and this change-up has happened over time.
“When you steer a ship you change course two degrees at a time to change direction because if you change too fast you could capsize.” He knows he is lucky to be doing what he loves. “When my music gets played I get as excited now as the first time.”