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Interview With ill-ēsha

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Elysha Zaide, ill-ēsha, is an eclectic, awe-inspiring artist in our underground community. She immersed herself in hip hop culture at a young age, delving into Djing and music production. She eventually transitioned to glitch-hop, dubstep, chill trap, downtempo, cinematic, and future bass. An emotive and mind-bending lyricist and pianist, she expresses deep self-reflection intertwined with groundbreaking melody, tasteful beats, and intricate design. Staying true to her roots, Elysha remains a fresh creator. She incorporates live elements and custom stands, instruments such as keytar, electrifying controllers, turntables, and vocal loopers in her performance, providing a freestyle groove. Aside from her original creations, she has collaborated with other pioneering artists, including: Mr. Bill, ill.gates, SteLouse, and kLL sMTH. Through the years, she’s toured solo and extensively across the U.S.A. and Canada, including three separate collab tours alongside Bassnectar, Beats Antique, & Big Gigantic.

Intrigued by how real and authentic ill-ēsha has remained in the game, I reached out to see what this Vancouver, British Columbia-born artist is up to now.  

ill-ēsha Interview

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What inspired you?

I am fascinated by technology and am always looking to push the boundaries of my live show. My interests have developed consecutively as I look to challenge myself more and more. I am inspired by geeky midi controller battles, by groundbreaking artists like Imogen Heap and Bjork, and by the desire to have complete control over all aspects of the process.


What can we expect from your upcoming EP “Wordless”?

This is my first self-release in the electronic music field, and it’s an experiment. I’ve worked with plenty of small labels, but never just tried to get the word out myself and curate something entirely with no help. I’ve got a number of small “EPs” coming out, which contradicts my previous preference for albums. Although I love the art of the classic album, with all the music coming out now, I feel it makes more sense to put things out in small, well-crafted doses. This next EP is an instrumental one and a pretty neat cross-section of my current artistic inspirations, including neon 80s reverb, Australian future bass, and minimal 808/percussion styles. All still, of course, with the quirky ill-esha textures that you know and love.

Are you working on any new projects?

Rapper Chicks is a female hip hop collective I’m very excited about working with. Psalm One and Angelenah are incredible lyricists and rappers, and they bring an energy to our collabs that take it to another level. It’s raw, it’s unapologetic, and it’s a nice complement to the soulful textures I like to throw in. They also inspire me to make harder and more minimal beats.  I’m also doing a lot of writing in general, and trying to collab with more artists again. It’s always an inspiring way to shake up your process.

“Ghostwriter” is a sweet future bass tune released by Hebinomichi’s Vol. III Compilation. It has an old school modem, melodic, futuristic vibe and it’s fused intricately and rhythmically. Can we expect this pattern to continue?

There is a really cool trend towards faster, video-game happy beats right now, firmly influenced by Australian future bass, Jersey club, and Scandinavian pop. It gives me that euphoric uptempo vibe that drum and bass — my original passion– used to. As far as a pattern, I think I’ve always had my own core sound which continues to be influenced by the amazing music I hear around me. I expect that to continue – I hope my music will always evolve, certainly!

Hebinomichi | Artwork by: Trent Kuhn

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What is Hebinomichi and your affiliation within the crew?

Hebinomichi is an artist-run collective, label and crew founded by SteLouse and Ahh-Ooh. Both passionate about good music and inclusive of awesome, up-and-coming artists across the world. I am proud to call myself a member and have been so thrilled to connect and work with artists from Spain, Australia, Belgium and everywhere in between. One of our signature things has become the awesome free compilations we have put out via Bandcamp and blogs, so keep your eyes peeled for volume 4 coming up.

What’s the future of music? Where do you see it going?

I honestly feel like artist collectives are the future. I’ve been participating in the electronic music scene for a long time, and seen it fluctuates from a community-based friendly experience to a series of corporate massive entities. Now, people are tired of the manufactured marketing and I’m excited to see the community coming back – artists are allying together. Instead of fighting to push our individual submissions to the top, we are sticking together, working with each other, and helping push contributions. I see the collective rather than individual artist or record label becoming the tastemakers that people look to, and this kind of support gives an artist a lot more room to experiment instead of worrying that they have to stick to a “formula”. I see all the former boundaries melting away, which is really exciting.

Outside of music production, you’re a lyricist and a DJ. When did writing become a passion? What inspired djing?

I entered the scene as a hip hop MC and vocalist! I was an outcast/nerd wherever I went as I was younger than my grade and a bit of a smart-ass on top of it, so I was constantly searching for a scene I could fit in. In ninth grade I met these awesome graffiti artists that would take me on painting runs and we’d listen to all the best hip hop going on while rapping to each other. I didn’t paint, so I had my little lyric book and would fill it with lines while also watching out for cops. Then I moved to another high school that was right downtown and full of aspiring DJs, so I started jamming over them spinning records with my mic. It wasn’t long before I wanted to take care of the record spinning as well, and then production – I’ve always had a desire to curate everything possible when I’m getting artistic. illesha4 Outside of music production, you’re also passionate about film and voice. Where would you like to see those mediums expand into?

Scoring is definitely my passion, and I’d love to compose more. I’ve been doing a bit of work composing and doing sound design for apps, and I used to do cartoon voices for animation – more stuff in that direction would be rad! I’m not excessively touring at the moment, so I’m spending a lot more time committed to composing and seeing what exciting new forms of media I can work with.

Artwork by: Sauce Monster

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‘Hyperbolic Space Crochet’, released on Seclusiasis, marks your fourth LP released last May. In this LP, we can really feel your synth magic in there, very fresh future & liquid bass grooves, alluring vocals, jazzy, and collabs which makes for an overall lucid journey.  You’re filled with endless depth and emotion as you continue to stay true to your underground roots. What continues to inspire such fluidity? What is your creative process like?

As much as I’d love to say something glamorous, my creative process (like many artists) swings between being super high on something awesome I’ve made and feeling like I’m the biggest waste of space. In between is the constant struggle to be new and innovative, yet stay true to yourself. Musical inspiration strikes somewhere in between the collision of all those emotions for me. I’m also very inspired by the new collective communities and all the young artists I’m being exposed to!

Artwork by: MiSTiGRiS ANSI art collective

‘Line by Line’ is such a dope creation, big ups on the profound depth that was triggered through 90’s flashback w/ BBS scene which brings solid fusion of glitch hop, future bass, two step soundscapes revolving around old Mac and Windows sounds, modems, old keyboards, etc. Phenomenal art work by MiSTiGRiS ANSI art collective. Share with us the inspiration, reflection, and connection behind this.

The existence of the BBS and the pre-internet scene is a huge reason why I’m so computer-based in the first place. As a friendless, “gifted” ten-year-old, the school district administrators suggested a local educational BBS that was filled with other friendless gifted kids. Of course many of those kids were-up-and-coming hackers, and ran their own BBSes – I became very quickly involved with a few of them, and one of the guys behind MiSTiGRiS also ran a BBS called the Screaming Tomato that I was on. We have stayed in touch, as he’s also an accomplished musician, and when he asked me to contribute to the 20-year-anniversary pack, I was so inspired by how much modem culture has contributed to the arc of my life and career that I wanted to do a new piece using old-school textures. Nearly every sound is resampled or resynthesized from classic Windows and Mac sounds.

Share with us the role of the piano and synthesizer in your life.

The piano was my first instrument, and it’s still my choice for intuitive writing. It’s also been a bit of a crutch, as I took many years of classical training that can actually hinder the process when you’re trying to make experimental electronic music. I quit lessons in a rage at the age of 12 (in retrospect, I should have probably just switched to jazz theory) and reconciled at 18 when I started realizing what a powerful tool it was. My entire sound, I believe, centers around the fact that all my parts are played in live – of course, all on the piano. I have a nice controller with drum pads, but I still end up using the piano to tap out my drums anyway. Now the synthesizer is the unicorn to the piano horse, I love having the extra degree of articulation that controller assignments can bring to a performance. Buying my keytar a couple of years ago was one of the best performance decisions I’ve made as well, since it allows me to more physically/obviously express my musical emotions. In fact, I’m rather handicapped when I don’t have some sort of keyboard to write with – I’m actually quite terrible at click-programming parts and can’t write in airports with a mouse like some. illesha6
Do you have any daily mantras/rituals that you practice? What helps to keep you balanced?

In recent years I really started feeling the effects of producer life – too much time inside, living at night, not moving around enough. So I committed finally to yoga, which I’ve been doing on and off for years, and have managed to maintain 4 to 6 times a week. It’s amazing, even on days where I feel I’m short of time I’ll get a lot more done in the studio if I make it to class. Focuses my mind, regulates my breathing, and of course energizes my body. I’m not very good at straight-up meditation so the physical alignment and concentration of yoga helps to get me there. I also really started to focus on food – starting with making my own ferments (kombucha, sauerkraut, ginger beer and kim chi) and have slowly and painfully been learning gardening.  Sounds pretty unlike someone who enjoys neon colors and video games, but I find that digging in the earth and paying attention to the physical world around you is a great balance for the rest of it. I’d like to grow most of my own vegetables, have some chickens, and create a little urban-farm-studio fortress peace of happiness.

What is next? What’s your goal for the year?

After a few years of mostly solo stuff, I’m excited to spend more time on collabs with members of my various crews as well as finding interesting places to put my music. I’ve been spending a lot of time on songwriting again, and I’d love to write some good pop music with other artists.  Mostly the theme is just connecting again with the community that made me fall in love with this whole thing in the first place.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I just want to give endless thanks to the crews who keep believing in and supporting my music, you are my lifeblood and keep me going – shouts out to SECLUSIASIS, GRAVITAS and HEBINOMICHI for being my everything! <3  Also, stay tuned to for news on my group, RAPPER CHICKS.

Stay Connected w/ ill-ēsha & her crews:


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