It’s no secret here – Illitry is one of my very favourite local bands. It has been a pleasure to watch the band’s music evolve since the first time I saw them live, back in March 2012. With a few impressive singles released so far, their EP is about to be released, and I cannot wait to hear it.
Catch Illitry at their first Hamilton show since Supercrawl – this Thursday at The Baltimore House. The show is part of New Hands’ November residency and also features Ken Park, and myself DJing before and in between bands. This is going to be a fun one!
They follow that with a Toronto show at the gorgeous Drake Hotel on November 27th with Bass Lions and Kira May.
I spoke with the brains behind it all, Troy Witherow, to catch up before the EP’s release.
I Heart Hamilton: The EP is finally here! I know you’ve been at work with Michael Keire at Threshold Studio studio for a while now. How does it feel to be presenting your biggest release yet?
Troy: I’m excited to get it out there and hear what people think of it.
What can we expect from this EP? Have you been working mainly on just this particular collection of songs for some time now, or did you have many to choose from and lose any in the process of putting together this EP?
We had an original batch of about 10 songs we were going to record. Some of been left by the wayside, while others made it through to the EP. Half of this material is brand new, and half of it is something I’ve had for seemingly years.
I was really excited to hear you would be working with Michael Keire because I knew he would only bring out the best and elevate your music even more. What is it about Michael that makes him such a great collaborator?
Of all the great things I could say about Mike, I think my personal favourite is that he really pushes me. Sometimes it actually pisses me off a lot, but that’s usually my own problem. I’m grateful for how much Illitry has developed and I owe him a huge thanks!
Your older recording “Roadtrip” is the first bit of music we heard by Illitry and that track has since developed into “Runaways.” How do you feel about the evolution of the song?
Very happy with it. That song was just a home-recording originally, put up so we could book shows. It’s kind of cool that people who were friends, or were fans of Illitry early on may have downloaded that old version. I feel kind of vulnerable that it is out there, but that’s okay. I’m obviously much happier with ‘Runaways’.. it’s just better.
The video for “Runaways” is also so great. It must be neat to see someone else’s interpretation of your music and see what they can create visually. Can we expect more videos to come?
You can definitely expect more videos. It’s really fun. It’s always a weird feeling to watch the video for the first time. I’m kind of a control freak when it comes to Illitry, and watching videos is a great exercise in ‘letting go’. Let the person do what they want. The most important thing is to find somebody who you trust will do a good job, and then just let them do their thing.
When we last chatted, we talked about the evolution of the band – going from your own project, to expanding into a duo, then more of a full band, and now it seems to be going back to a solo electronic project. How do things stand now with the setup?
I still have hopes to extend it into a full band one day, but for now, I call it a ‘solo studio project’.
I’m really excited to see you on the same bill with New Hands again [this Thursday, November 20th at Baltimore House]. It’s going to be an awesome show with Ken Park as well, and I’m honoured to be DJing in between! You and New Hands compliment each other so well. Maybe we can expect more shows together in the future?
I sincerely hope so!
A few months back you did a really unique show at The Staircase Theatre where you collaborated with Realtime Activities who created projections. For this upcoming Toronto show, you’re working with them again. Does having that added element change the experience for you when playing live?
I love Reg. RealTime Activities is one of my favourite collaborative experiences. I’ve always been very passionate about the live show, and the visuals he brings to the table really make the live show feel cool for me on stage, and I hope for the audience. It does change the experience for me. It makes me feel like I become part of the show, instead of being the centre of the show. It makes me more comfortable.
How did you come to choose Bass Lions and Kira May as support for the upcoming Toronto show? I know Anthony of Bass Lions played in Illitry for a while, so it’s cool to see them on a bill with you. I just caught them at The Casbah recently are they sounded great.
Yeah Bass Lions just released an EP so the time was ripe to finally play a show with them. And Kira May is just awesome, and we’ve been wanting to play again with her for a while.
Favourite breakfast food: Lately, smoothies! I’ve gone 80/10/10 raw vegan for November as an experiment
If you were a drink, what would you be? IPA… I don’t know… too bitter maybe?
Your go-to karaoke song: Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
If you could speak flawlessly with any other accent, what would it be? Scottish.
Favourite word: no idea
Favourite concert/live performance you’ve seen: … not sure.. I have high hopes for the Caribou/Jessy Lanza show in Toronto on Nov 24 though
What is on your playlist right now: Flying Lotus, Luke Abbot, Caribou, Zammuto
If you could take a detour to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? .. Germany?
Favourite mode of transportation: Train when possible.
What’s one thing on your bucket list: I don’t really have a bucket list. Just going to some cool place in the world.
My thanks to Troy for chatting with me! Really excited for Thursday’s show and to see what’s next for Illitry.