Interviewed by: @CopaseticSoulz

ILL TONE is finding success making hiphop in Vancouver by applying himself from every angle, pushing to grow his range and connect with his audience on a level ahead of his peers. He recently returned from tour throughout Europe with the Beatnuts, and he is recording his second album and making a name for himself locally with his energetic live shows and professional hustle. He leading the new age of artists who handle every aspect of their career and his hard work is paying off.

Q: How is your follow up album coming along?

A: The follow up album’s been a bit of a struggle, to be honest. It’s not an issue with the creative aspect. The pre-production is done, the songs are written… but finding time to record it, mix it, and collaborate with the features has been tough. Between touring and doing production work for others, my own stuff has been shifted to the back-burner, which sucks ass but it is what it is for now. I’ve also been pondering the idea of splitting the LP in half and releasing 2 EP’s instead. In any case, the shit is called “To Assimilate Myself”, and it’ll be out… some time. Haha.

Q: What have you learned from your first album that has changed the way you are approaching the production of this project?

A: That’s an excellent question. I can’t even really describe the number of things I learned from my first album, mainly with engineering. I mixed that album, “Bringin’ the Hope Back”, while I was in school learning all that shit so it’s safe to say I have a lot more experience now than I had then. The beats on the new one sound better, the production is better, I feel that my songwriting skills have improved immensely. Basically, there is no facet of the new shit that won’t be 20 steps UP from the old shit.

Q: What unique style can people expect from this release?

A: The upcoming music is quite different from what I’ve released in the past. The most unique part about it is the beats. Five beats were co-produced with Dead Giveaway and the rest I made myself. Dead Giveaway is a skilled musician as well as a ridiculously good drum programmer, synth specialist… just an overall beat making mammoth, really. I’m good with sampling and like to tamper with the virtual synths a bit, but my drum programming is a little more on the boom-bap side. So we’ve taken electronic / new-age synths, live instrumentation, sampling, and all different kinds of drum styles and we’ve thrown it all in to an awesome fucking music gumbo. It’s pretty rad. One song might have crazy space age synths with heavy machine gun-esque snare rolls and some other southern style shit happening then a crazy 80’s metal guitar solo will come in… or something, and the next song might be really minimal on the drums with just a kick / snare / hi hat with a good sample over top… but also with some space age synths somewhere in the background, or not. From harpsichord to wobble bass… it’s all there.

Q: From which artists do you draw the most influence from?

A: I try to be my own artist, and think that I have achieved at least some level of individualism, but having said that, the only real way to remain un-influenced by other artists is to not listen to any of them and that would be pretty wack. I take a lot of influence regarding my live set from Kyprios. When I was younger, I listened to everything from Lil’ Wayne to Immortal Technique which may seem odd but it helped me learn the technicalities of rapping. My favourites during my teenage years were Nas & AZ, Pharoahe Monch, Eminem, Masta Ace, the Beastie Boys… too many to name. I guess all that must’ve influenced me to some extent. I was also big in to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a lot of other rock music which may be why I incorporate a lot of live instrumentation in to my own music. These days I bump a lot of Aussie hip hop, Atmosphere, lots of other stuff.

Q: Where do you see the evolution of your artistry headed?

A: I wanna start a crazy 50 piece band with people playing lutes and bag pipes and harps and shit.

Q: Who are some of your favourite Vancouver artists right now?

A: There’s some really dope artists in Vancouver. A-RO is always a personal favourite. He lights up his live sets, makes beats, raps, collaborates, engineers a bit and is an all round good dude. Emotionz is someone I’ve looked up to in the scene since I moved to Vancouver almost a decade ago, and how he continues to evolve both his beatboxing, songwriting, and networking never ceases to impress me. Recently started collaborating on live shows with ILL-Legitimate and are loving both the lyricism and live show. Ashleigh Eymann… just check out any song and she will be one of your favourites too. Kyprios, Attikus, Claire Mortifee, Cander… the list goes on. Also heading out with EVIL EBENEZER on tour next month. The dude’s songwriting skills are pretty next level. Singing and rapping. His songs have a lot of depth.

Q: How do you maintain originality in such a trend driven industry?

A: Maintaining originality can be tough, definitely. When I sit down to make a song, I try to just say what I want rather than say what people are wanting or expecting me to say. The trends are usually pretty fuckin lame so they are easy to stay away from, for the most part. The day you catch me on stage in a pair of tight jeans and lensless glasses screaming “SWAG BITCH!” is the day that I grant you permission to kick me in the sack.

Q: What can we look forward to from Ill Tone?

A: Well… you can certainly look forward to more crazy shenanigans and shocking remarks. Like I said, I have that album coming out eventually, I’ve started working on a new mixtape which I hope to have done by x-mas, and I’m heading out on tour next month as an opener on EVIL’s “Best Summer Ever” tour. Also, I’ll be completely overhauling and re-launching my website some time in the not too distant future. Looking forward to that to!

Stay in tune with what I’m doing on my website www.ILLTONEMUSIC.com or either of the following social media sites.



Leave a Comment