I have been a melodic bass/dubstep fan for as long as I can remember. From the first time I heard Seven Lions, I instantly fell in love with the genre and dove, head first, into the realm of melodic bass/dubstep. Nearly two years ago, I remember stumbling upon Nick Miller‘s SoundCloud, who is better known to us as Illenium, and knew after listening to “Drop Our Hearts Part I”, that I had found another favourite artist. When the phase 1 lineup for MysterylandUSA was released with Illenium’s name on it, alongside headliners ODESZA, Skrillex, and Bassnectar, I was fully committed to attending the festival. In the days leading up to MysterylandUSA, I was provided with the opportunity so many fans only dream of: interviewing a favourite artist. Time flies faster than you’d think while at a festival, and before I knew it I was watching Illenium’s set Sunday evening, preparing to interview the talented Nick Miller himself. Following his beautiful set, Nick took the time to sit down with me and discuss touring, his debut album, Ashes, and his inspirations. See our conversation below.
1. Last year you toured with Chill Harris as a supporting act, and now you are headlining your very own tour for your album. What has been the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of touring for Ashes?
“Just being able to play my music to 100% my fans, you know people who know it. It’s a crazy feeling travelling around, especially with the music I make, you know the point of it is to try to emotionally connect with people and stuff like that. Being able to listen to it and then see it live and actually seeing the people like, like there’s people crying, it’s pretty, like it’s a cool feeling and it just it makes me very present and that’s pretty awesome.”
2. Earlier this year, you released your debut album, Ashes. What was/were your inspiration(s) behind the album?
“There was a lot. You know, when did I start it? I guess I started it a little over a year ago, and the overall inspiration was I wanted to make an album. I wanted to try and make something that would let me experiment a little bit with like not as trendy or not as, you know where I didn’t have to focus on it performing well and just make music and have the whole thing tell a story. And so the actual inspiration from it just comes from like, everything. It was my first time being able to go to a festival and play music at a festival and all these experiences kind of emotionally do things to you and just trying to portray that.”
3. How did you decide on your stage name, Illenium?
“Um you know the name, it’s kind of an anticlimactic story *laughs*, there’s not really anything on the name. Pretty much the whole actual meaning behind everything is the symbol, the phoenix symbol, just kind of telling that story of rising after you fall, and hope and all that. It’s inspiring when you have that kind of symbol with this music, so that’s hopefully what it’s achieving”.
4. In the past, you’ve collaborated with Crywolf, Said The Sky, and Sirma. Given the opportunity, what/which artist(s) would you like to collaborate with?
“Any artist. I really ODESZA, Porter Robinson, I feel like Dillon Francis would be really fun, he’s really like, different and stuff, like his melodic stuff is really cool and I feel like that would be fun. So any of those”.
5. From the very beginning, you have remained very true to your specific musical sound. What first inspired you to create the melodic music that you do?
“A lot of it was the music that I got into. I was living in Colorado, like ski bumming it and I wasn’t really into music, I wasn’t into dance music and this was like a little over four years ago. And then I went to a Bassnectar show and I kind of saw the melodic aspects of that, then I started listening to it and I just fell in love with it. And then I wanted to be like how do you do this, you know, what is happening?! So I just messed around. I was working a desk job and it was just on the side. So you know, kind of just fell in love with it. I really like acoustic stuff too, but I like chill, even the electronic music stuff I like the chill stuff”.
6. What was the moment you first knew that you wanted to pursue a career as a producer/DJ?
“I didn’t really think of it as a career until the music started performing well, and I was like, can I do this? And so I just tried and was starving for like a year and was super poor *laughs*, it was funny but it was good, it was awesome. I’m very happy for what’s happening”.
7. You were once an artist to watch, who are some rising artists you would recommend to listeners?
“Oh rising artists. I really like Wheathin, I think he’s changing his name right now? He’s really good, MYRNE, Melvv is awesome. I mean there’s so many good people right now it’s awesome. I like those guys a lot right now. Oh! This guy William James is really good, I played one of his songs today, very Porter-y sounding but he’s like SO good and his production is cool”.
8. Alongside original releases, you have quite the arsenal of remixes. What is it about particular tracks that inspire you to want to remix them?
“Pretty much always the vocal. It’s like if I can hear something, and the vocal pops out on it, and I’m like holy crap this vocal is so good! And then I can almost fill in the instrumental areas pretty simply. The vocal is so huge and you can like incapsulate, it’s what people relate to, it’s the easiest. And then there’s a lot of other stuff people relate to like guitar, natural sounding stuff. I love using all that. Some remixes, the original is so good, like the track is just not remix-able, because it’s too good. There’s been a few where I’m like, can I remix this? And then I’m like nope, I can’t, so I’m not going to do it *laughs*, so it’s a balance of that”.
9. This summer, you are on the road for your Ashes tour, as well as performing at festivals such as Backwoods, Summer Set, and Big Dub. What are some of the things you look forward to most about festival season?
“I just love playing outside. I don’t know what it is about it, but like the vibe of people at a festival is so great because music is the thing that’s on their mind. It’s not work, it’s not shit that clouds that so it’s just really easy to connect with people on that. I love festival crowds. It’s such a hard thing, do you like that better or that better, like I don’t even know. It’s too hard I don’t know *laughs*. Sometimes you’ll go to a festival and you’ll be on the MainStage and there’s a ton of people there, but being in a room of like, 500 people that know your music is better. It’s that intimate experience”.
10. Lastly, what are some of your dream festivals to play at during the course of your career?
“I really want to do Outside Lands in San Fransisco. I grew up in San Fransisco so that’s a big one that I went to a lot, and it’s very eclectic it’s not EDM, it has a lot of other stuff there. I really like that one. Outside Lands is awesome. Some European ones or Australian ones too, I want to get there.”
Once again I’d like to extend my gratitude to both Nick and his team for setting up this interview. Wishing you the very best in your summer adventures!
Photo Cred: Benjamin Steëfel