Australian hip hop sensation Illy will play in Airlie Beach this Sunday.
Australian hip hop sensation Illy will play in Airlie Beach this Sunday. Contributed

Illy says that music is his life, which won't change

ILLY is stumped by the question of who would play him in a movie.

It might seem like a left of centre question for the Australian hip hop artist, but considering his new album, Cinematic, leads itself to the idea of film, it seems like a valid one.

"I don't know, I am trying to think of a good actor that comes to mind," he said.

"It might sound lame, but probably Leonardo Dicaprio."

This Sunday Illy will perform at Magnums Hotel in Airlie Beach as part of a string of small shows across the country.

While most of us are enjoying some down time this festive season, Illy likes to be somewhere nice and relaxing on New Year's Eve.

His latest album is a tale of a smart and idealistic hip hop storyteller who put everything on the line and, through honing his craft and sheer hard work, made it work; going from, as he himself so succinctly puts it on Yoyo, the ground floor to the top tier.

Now the Illy tale is expanded further, another link in a musical career that started with 2009 debut Long Story Short, where Illy collapsed 21 years of life into an album.

It continued in documenting the struggle for success on 2010's The Chase, and Bring It Back's return to Illy's musical roots in 2012.

Now with Cinematic - released through his own label, ONETWO, via Warner Music Australia - Illy offers a deft statement that music is his life, and there is no way that will change any time soon.

"I feel pretty confident in my artistic vision now," he said.

"I feel like my hooks and lyrics are at a level I'm really happy with, and Cinematic reflects that: it plays out almost like a movie.

"It sums up where I'm at now, looks at everything I've done, and how appreciative I am that I get to make music."

Illy said it was his intention to make an album that flowed like a storyline and believes it is the best album he has made to date.

"My songwriting has matured," he said.

"Maybe that is because I am more responsible, more life experiences and it is my fourth album.

"The inspiration is still there and I am surrounded by some very talented people."

The album was recorded at executive producer M-Phazes' studio in Melbourne, alongside producers Jan Skubiszewski (Way of the Eagle), Stylaz Fuego (360, Owl Eyes) and Cam Bluff.

Illy has also pushed forward and enhanced his unique musical vision.

Cinematic is a genre-skipping record that pushes and sits outside of the usual musical boundaries - it's full of buzz saw synths, soul, glitchy pop hooks and epic beats - while also delivering Illy's trademark biting lyricism.

That's as sharp as ever too.

Illy offers whip-sharp observations and commentary, making, as he says on More Than Gold, "art from personal reference points".

Tackling topics like his mother's cancer on Am Yours, pushing back against critics on Talk, and discussing complicated relationships on Tightrope, Illy also provides suitable party-starters like hit single On and On and the hedonistic No Tomorrow.

"On this album I wanted to focus beyond the rap," he said.

"I wrote a majority of songs and wanted to focus on that more in the future. I realised I do have the chops."

Touring is the best part of the music gig for Illy who said performing was the icing on the cake.

"When you are working on an album you can become very introverted and you don't get to see the outside perspective," he said.

"When you tour that is when it pays off."

  For tickets phone Magnums Hotel on 4946 6188


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