American DJ and producer Illenium talks ASCEND LP and his collaboration with The Chainsmokers.
Known for his three-studio album with the newest release, Ascend released in August 2019. The album top the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart and reached his highest peak on Billboard 200 at number 14. Illenium worked on numerous mixes including for The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down”. See below for what Illenium has to say.
ASL365: 2019 was your biggest year yet, especially the release of your ASCEND LP. Tell us a little bit about the album. Why did you call it ASCEND and could you explain the album art to us?
Illenium: I named the album ASCEND because it is my third album in a trilogy of sorts that has the theme of a phoenix rising from the ashes. The artwork symbolizes hope and the final stage of the phoenix after it’s risen. My first album was named Ashes, and the second Awake, so the third album Ascend completes the cycle.
ASL365: ASCEND has many great collaborations. How did the track with The Chainsmokers come about?
Illenium: Ever since I released my remix of The Chainsmokers song “Don’t Let Me Down” I wanted to do an original collaboration with them. We worked on “Takeaway” for a long time before we came up with something both of us loved. It’s been received really well and I’m happy we were finally able to put something out together.
ASL365: Do you have a typical production process? If so, what is it? And describe your sound in 3 words.
Illenium: I spend a lot of time just messing around with ideas in my studio. Sometimes I start with a vocal and other times I build the music from the ground up. My sound described in 3 words would be “emotional bass music”
ASL365: You’ve been touring quite a lot last year, how has it been? Have there been any highlights or lowlights? and what are 5 most important things in your travel backpack?
Illenium: I travel a ton throughout the year. I’m fortunate in that I get to tour with some of my best friends so the highlight is spending time with them. I think the lowlight would be having to spend so much time on planes and buses and not having time to really explore cities because we have to go in, play the show, and make it to the next one.
ASL365: What’s the difference between your live show for the ASCEND Tour compared to the past tours? How long did you take to prepare it?
Illenium: The Ascend tour had a much higher level of production than any of my past tours. We spent a solid few months preparing everything, making the stage designs, visuals, and rehearsing all the songs. It was quite the process.
ASL365: How do you stay sane and maintain a work/life balance being an international touring DJ? What do you do for fun? And your best advice for keeping stress level low.
Illenium: I try to maintain a work/life balance by actually relaxing on my days off. I don’t get too many so when I do get downtime I take advantage of it and try not to work. For fun I like to play video games, ski, and go to the movies. My best advice for keeping stress low is to surround yourself with people who support you and to take things one day at a time.
ASL365: You were on Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ list along with other music stars. What does it mean to you? And anyone from the list that you admire of?
Illenium: It means a lot to be grouped in with so many other successful musicians. My friend Jon Bellion also made the list so I was stoked to see that. I admire his work a lot.
ASL365: What do you love most about being a DJ and producer? Who or what in this industry are you currently really into?
Illenium: I love being able to create music and share it with people. I would still make music everyday even if I wasn’t successful because I’m so passionate about it.
Currently I’ve been listening to a lot of Porter Robinson’s music because I’m excited for his new album coming out.
ASL365: Could you share a little known fact about yourself?
Illenium: I lived in France when I was a child.
ASL365: What are your plans for 2020? More music and touring?
Illenium: Yup. Hopefully lots of new music and big shows along with more international dates
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