In The Studio Know With iLL BLU
8th April 2019
Producers, DJs, and all round music mavericks, James and Darius, aka iLL BLU, are taking on 2019 with a host of new tracks and collabs. They stepped away from the decks to step inside Superdry for the insight…
Let’s start with an obvious – what does iLL BLU actually mean?
iLL BLU was a name we thought of after we made the track ‘Frontline’ with Princesss Nyah. We knew we had a big tune on our hands and we wanted to continue producing as a duo so we thought what would represent us. iLL BLU represents our different approaches to making music. ILL being raw and rugged with beats and BLU being a cool, melodic and rounded approach.
You’re childhood friends, so it’s safe to say you both get on, but when do you clash?
We get on really well, we never really clash musically and our way of working is very complimentary too. However, we do have quite heated debates over current affairs!
How did music producing come about, and how did you make a career of it?
James: Music was always around me growing up as I played drums and other instruments at music school, so producing started off as a hobby for me. When Darius and I met, we had similar music influences and so we connected over that.
Darius: I started to rap and produce beats in the early 2000’s with 50 cent, JAY-Z, and Hi TeK being the key influences. Then came funky house around 2006. Our career ignited with the track ‘Frontline’ and since then we started to get more remix work and produce for a variety of different artists across different genres.
You’ve been a production force in the music industry for a decade – what have you learned along the way?
We’ve learnt that there are lots of ups and downs. The volatility of the industry, combined with the fact that music is subjective, means that you have to stay focused and be consistent. We believe it’s essential to stay humble and look ahead of the curve. We think it’s key to be versatile and open minded to new change and talent to stay fresh and on trend.
You’ve worked with some of the most iconic and diverse singers, from Sam Smith to Hot Chip. Who else is on your wishlist and why?
Our Wishlist would be:
Koffee: We think she’s an amazing talent with a new, exciting sound that we haven’t really heard coming out of Jamaica.
Drake: We respect him could make a sick tune that could go everywhere!
What does a track need to get you excited to collaborate and remix on?
We love a cool and interesting vocal, or if we hear an artist who has a nice tone to their voice.
You’re known for your genre defying reinventions – is it important to constantly develop your sound?
Yes, we stay very open minded and keep things interesting. Essentially there’s a running theme and vein of consistency to distinguish us within other genres but in a new exciting way.
Your new track Go Time is a powerhouse of collaborators – Tell us more!
We’ve been working with ZieZie for a while now and we wanted to make another banger like our previous single ‘Chop my Money’. We had already produced the track and he delivered the hook with some incredible melodies. Ay Em, we met in the studio and he was the perfect fit. Gecko, we have history with him and the whole way that his feature came about was very organic. We had previously worked with C Tangana and produced a track for him. It made perfect sense to have him feature on the song and he brought something different which was very exciting.
Wildest night you’ve DJ’d at?
We’ve had too many wild nights to remember!
You recently visited Superdry’s Regent Street flagship – what did you make of the new collection, and what did you pick out?
We loved the collection, there are so many great pieces. We picked out some cool camo jackets, some great sweatshirts too. The joggers were dope- thanks guys!
What’s your definition of ‘style’?
Simple yet effective!
Finally, what’s your summer plans, and how are you going to be partying?
Summer plans are to create more bangers and we will be partying in style!