20 Questions with ill-esha
ill-esha from Vancouver, BC is one of my favorite producers, DJs and vocalists out there. Her recent whompcast blew the hinges off my mind, pissed off my neighbors and made a motherlover out of me; I have been handing out burned CDs of her mix like rocks to fiending crackheads.
ill-esha performs tomorrow night (Thursday, July 16) at Thirdsdaze in Seattle at THE REBAR. Get out for some ridiculous new music and hear what the future holds. I am jealous! Also on the lineup are locals Zacharia, Aksion and Kat1lyst, who will be bringing their unique brands of bass music to the rain-slicked streets of the Emerald City.
Check out my email interview below with ill-esha who is holding down the far Pacific Northwest with mountains of bass and a forest of talent:
1. What actions can we as members of the EDM community take to encourage more female creators in the electronic arts?
I don’t think that lacking females in music production is a product of lack of community support; in fact I believe the latter is only a symptom of the greater global stereotype of females in general. We are still taught to be submissive, pretty, placating… and it translates into a fear of taking on anything that would be competitive to a man, or anything that’s “too hard” or “too technical”. That being said, I think there should be more workshops put on by females – for both males and females – giving people friendly intros to all that “technical” stuff. Without making it a girls-only club, the message subtly gets across that capable people exist in both genders and hopefully inspires something. I love doing workshops with youth and have made appearances at high schools and community centres to show people how much fun it is to geek out.
2. What is West Coast sound?
West Coast sound is hype and chill at the same time. I think glitch hop is a direct product of this… really crunk synths and basslines with half-time tempos. We love to surf and snowboard, but we also love to party!
3. What can save drum and bass? Do you think this genre even needs, or wants, to be saved? Who are the innovators right now in DnB?
Drum and bass has shut itself down because people hoard their dubs, and labels hoard their releases. The music that’s coming out for the average citizen to buy was often made several years ago. There is some great stuff being made now that is either too risky for the labels to sign or simply won’t come out for another few years; bah!! People that still get me going are B-Complex from Slovakia (an incredible musical prodigy), Dan Marshall from Wales (teenage talent!), as well as UK producers Alix Perez and Sabre. I’m also liking the drumfunky, more minimal stuff from North Americans like Sinistarr and Mutt.
4. What can stop dubstep? It seems to be taking over the West Coast. Any thoughts on this?
Dubstep can and already is going the same way as drum n bass. Innovative ideas being eclipsed by overcompressed wanky bass slams and headbanging programming. Hey, I love the bangers as much as anybody, but when that’s all there is it gets tiring and monotonous. I enjoy a Rusko tune, but not five in a row. Vancouver has some great dubstep parties right now, but I do hope that more experimental producers like Eskmo start to take over the limelight from the more commercial stuff. There’s also that really boring stuff my friends and I call “dubstand” which is sleepy and repetitive – no thanks!
5. What do you want to tell girls out there who want to learn to make electronic music or DJ? Who are your favorite female producers and DJs?
Girls, quit worrying about being girls. And be prepared to give up your social life if you want to be a producer. 🙂 But it’s not as hard as you think, computers are less scary than ever with easy to learn programs like Ableton. Favourite females? Well, Reid Speed and Empress have proved for many years that they are fierce forces to reckon with behind the decks, and both have continued to evolve in their sound and production. Mieka du Franx is spirited, soulful and successfully runs her own record label.
6. How can girls learn to have the confidence they need to create and perform the electronic arts?
I guess it can be hard when society tells you that it’s a boys’ game to do these things. But screw it. Honestly, I originally came from a point of pretty low self-confidence and at some point you have to toss that aside and go, “Whatever, I’m making music now, no time for this garbage.” Oh, and stop reading beauty magazines. Even just to kill time in the airport. That stuff brainwashes you.
7. What is the bass music scene like up in Vancouver? How is it unique, and what is it contributing to the West Coast Future Sound Movement?
It’s crazzzy!!! I am in love with it!! Glitchy + Scratchy have almost singlehandedly built a loyal, energetic young scene that is absolutely thriving on glitch hop, dubstep, aquacrunk, skweee and whatever else we can throw them. There is a great lack of pretension – we have costume themed parties and nearly everyone not only dresses up but goes totally overboard. Also, our beautiful setting is very conducive to great outdoor festivals. There’s a lot of extremely talented young producers about to break out here, like Jay Wikid… lots of tunes to add to the movement. And we made Glitch Hop Forum, which has proved to be the greatest resource yet for this style of music to connect talent all over the world.
8. You are playing Seattle tomorrow- do you see more collaboration in the future for the two flagship cities of the Pacific Northwest?
I certainly hope so. It’s not easy to jet back and forth in these times but I think there’s great energy that should be linked up.
9. You are one of the founders of GlitchHopForum.com. Why did you start it, and where do you see it going?
Well, there just wasn’t anything like that on the internet. Really the site was the brainchild of Dewey dB and The Mongoose of Glitchy + Scratchy. Once we all realized it didn’t exist, Dewey decided to create it – he’s been responsible for a lot of other great music sites like dubstep.ca, dubstepradio.com and downtempo.ca – and it’s been growing ever since. I think it’s going to be the biggest resource the scene has, and at least as big as sites like dubstepforum.com have become.
11. What artists inspire you most? What music are you loving right now? Who are you listening to the most?
Vibesquad can really do no wrong in my opinion. Eskmo makes the best dubstep I’ve ever heard. Also a lot of the Australian cats are great, like Spoonbill and Opiuo – they’ve really got some great things going on. Antiserum is a great friend and inspiration.. we’ve got some stuff on the go. I’m listening to a lot of glitch hop, since it’s so new.
12. Shambhala? Going and/or playing there?
I’m supposed to be playing on a smaller unofficial stage.. but it’s not official. 🙂
13. Your mixes are full of fresh, eclectic tracks. Where do you find them? (Ha ha ha and you can just tell me personally if you want 😉
Most of them are made by me or my friends. I am proud to be connected to so much talent.
14. What music did you grow up or come of age listening to?
Really lame folk music till I was old enough to buy my own. I entered high school the year Kurt Cobain killed himself, so there was a lot of grunge, punk and industrial. Then I switched to a high school downtown and got flyered on the street one day and went out of curiosity – rave on!
15. How would you describe your sound?
Musical bass? Harmonic dissonance? I guess my trademark is having really lush, symphonic or vocal elements over top of juicy fat bass and hard beats.
16. How do you think the weather of Vancouver affects the music produced there?
Well, we have fabulous summers and rainy blah winters. I’d say the only way it really affects things is I get a lot more done in the winter and say goodbye to the studio for the beach in the summer.
17. Any plans to come to LA?
I’d love to – book me! 🙂
18. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
19. What equipment/software do you use?
I’m a die hard Cubase user, but until I have enough saved up for version 5 I’ve been using Logic 8 because it goes with my Mac. Can’t stand the audio editing though so I always have to rewire Ableton to it. I have a lot of nice microphones and an Avalon tube preamp for recording, and plenty of fun plugins. Alchemy is my favourite synth at the moment.
20. What is next for you? Any exciting news or big future plans?
I’m trying to plan an Australian tour and another one of Europe. We’re also about to launch a new record label featuring all this great Vancouver talent so stay tuned!