ILLENIUM is one of the most affecting voices in popular music. ILLENIUM will be discussed as long as electronic music continues to elicit dance and expand on Rock and Blues traditions.
And his music will move with mass taste, not against it, complementing the proper contours of its soul like an oar in the stream. That is a thing of craft.
Self-titled “Illenium,” the fifth studio album from the tastemaker, is set to release on April 28. You can listen to the lead single, “Luv Me A Little,” featuring Nina Nesbit, here.
“ILLENIUM” is a concept album blending science fiction with fantasy. The world of art is similar to our own in that it is full of addictions and illnesses, technologies, and dependencies.In his tale, Illenium escapes dystopia to find love’s magic and sparks in the forest, but the pull of old habits and systems weighs heavy alongside his family’s tragedy.
In the tempest of new music, ILLENIUM will tour North America, Europe, and Australia.
His show, Trilogy: Colorado, at Empower Field in Illinois’ hometown of Denver promises to be the biggest show of his fruitful career. And it has much to compete with on this tour alone: two nights at the Gorge Amphitheater, festival dates, and Vegas performances at OMNIA and TAO Beach Club.
ILLENIUM, a Billboard Music Award winner and Grammy nominee, was inducted into the Forbes 30 Under 30 class of 2020.His songs have been streamed more than 7 billion times! He’s worked with Taylor Swift, the Chainsmokers, Tisto, and Flume. He sold out Madison Square Garden, the former STAPLES Center, and Red Rocks. Long before recent performances in Japan and hosting festivals in Colorado and Cancun, Illinium saw the world, and he’s seen it change.
The disc jockey, our protagonist, in earlier life, escaped the closed jaws of a disease as deep as the troubles of human history. Though it’s been given a modern American twist: addiction.
He speaks towards issues of addiction, addictive personalities, technology, and modernity changing us individually and globally. In this story, true-to-life anthropological reporting is blended with Illenium’s interview with Forbes, outlandish fantasy, allegory, and a hyper-saturated theme—in the temperamental sands of literature.
Last December, on the plane home from his second Ember Shores festival in Cancun, Illinium slipped into dreaming, hagridden by conditions as formless as tomorrow’s storms and as sizable as mystery.
He found his feet in a cold room. There was nothing to see but the eerie, lost light of a lost yesterday, still swimming in strands against his space, unable to escape.It left a pale khaki ring around him and stretched outside without reason. He saved himself by having an empty room.And it was situated at the far end of the long tube through which he walked.His was the only door open, save the doors of his mind, which were opening and closing with the ferocity of mystery. Despite its reflection of the transnational path, the dream was still his playground at first.
The majority of the words we create fade into obscurity.and others follow us. Others still follow others. ILLENIUM began to hear himself from a previous interview.From speakers on the floor, his words played. Comments from online forums were sketched into the black, wiry walls of the path ahead. He ignored that horror as best he could in favor of its lesser
“If you have a secret,” Illenium said over the recording, “it does bad things for you.” It’s guilt riding.The only way to get rid of it is by coming clean, and that is the hardest thing to do. I’m lucky I don’t have to experience that. “That feeling, that guilt, is what drove me to use and do stupid sh**.”
“When they pile up, you’re lying about everything, just random sh**,” he said. “It’s hard to keep track of, always feeling ashamed of not being able to be who you are.” You know? “It layers, covering up who you are and what you’re struggling with.”
“All of my character defects have pros attached to them, which is fu***ing weird.” If you have an addictive personality and act on it, it can be very unhealthy.I find it on social media. “I love seeing people,” the recording went on. “I love giving people joy, and I get addicted to seeing that joy.” But then it stops hitting as hard because you get a target on your back and you see all this negativity, but you can’t stop.”
The hallway was long, dark, and thin. Single windows set in the crest of each door released uncomfortable light. Every original and cliché color took part in their temporary republic. Each hue announced itself with such prideful importance that together they were often impossible to distinguish, a blinding white chorus. And when it hit the wall, the whole thing died. It did not bounce. Each string of the angel’s wing that is the heavenly gift of light did not make its usual second stride.
It wasn’t alive like the light of the sun, or the light that someone gives themselves inside themselves in moments of true grace, or the light of a distant star, with the patience to travel millions of years for the chance to breathe on us, life.
It was a wonder there was enough luster still left to give the hallway its sepia-of-better-sorrows complexion.
“You know? You can’t stop. “You just want to prove to everyone that you’re trying your best; you’re doing the best you can,” Illenium said from the speakers. “Twitter makes me feel bad.” They all do it differently.It almost makes me mentally unstable. You know? “It makes me not have confidence.”
Some things must be seen only once, while others should be seen only once.The dead light was the poster child for the latter.
The recording said, “Sometimes when my fans are screwed over, I’m the only person that can really show that I’m fighting for them.” But I see all this other sh**.”That part is just tough, dude.”
Tendril clouds of electricity brimming with pungent decay—shock, arousal, and shame—were sizeable as school buses ambled by Illenium through the bizarre hallway.
“You can escalate or deescalate situations with twenty to thirty people, whereas hundreds of thousands and all the time nonstop,” trembled the speakers.
“That is setting yourself and your psyche up for terrible, terrible sh**,” said Illenium.
He noticed the clouds were multiplying, with different fervor and force each time they passed. Regret swings at confidences in unpredictable ways.
Where other doors only let the brilliant, dead light out at their windows, the luminous passion behind that door, the only labeled door, was stronger, and it seeped through the frame, the entire anxious perimeter like a wanted poster.
And some of the energy released, failing to escape, seemed to burst into other forms of energy, namely sound and force, with a constant popping and a low, terrible rumble.
He almost couldn’t hear the recording over its rabble, partially because the feeling of a ravenous want and an unanswerable agenda sent shivers through his steel.
“Some of it is amazing. And some of it is genuine care. “On Reddit and Twitter, there are people who get a lot of satisfaction from putting others down; they don’t believe in what I’m doing and do what they can to uproot it,” said ILLENIUM through the speakers.
“I was really young, but I was really a dishonest person,” the speaker said. “I wanted to have my family love me again. I had no dreams of being successful or having a career. I just wanted to avoid disappointing everyone all the time. But you’re stuck in this loop, and it does not get better.”
“It started out as, like, okay, this is fun, and it makes me feel good.” And without it, you know, without it, I feel more on edge and have more self-confidence issues. “I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin,” Illenium remembered, according to the recording.”I was not confident, and that gave me some self-esteem.” It really worked. I had this personality too, right? When I first started, especially with opiates, I thought to myself, “I want this feeling every second of every day.””It was such a relief to numb myself out of the mental sh**.”
The record said, “And that’s the loop, because it works at first.” That’s the loop that you keep doing; it’s the only thing I know that works. I got kicked out of my house, have no money, and am pretty much homeless in San Francisco. It’s Thanksgiving Day.
“I don’t really believe in Jesus or Christianity and stuff like that.” But I definitely believe in some sort of higher power helping me, because I would not be here without a miracle occurrence. “There’s something greater going on,” said Illenium. “I pray every night, a short prayer.” I believe in God, but it’s not organized religion. God saved my life. It made my family forgive me for everything I did.”
“I ask every night; I can’t do life by myself.” “And let me help people; and let me live my life and give people my experience and hope if they’re struggling,” he said. “Let me help others by my story or by music.”
“Let me help who could use it—in wrong feelings, their ruse to lift,” a passing echo said.
He picked up his pace.
Above ILLENIUM, the ceiling opened, becoming thick glass, warbly to look through, and foggy. And he saw his fans, real people speaking and interacting in the real world, at his festival. And he yelled and banged on the glass, but neither perception nor force could get through.He walked to see them and be nearer to them.
He quickly noticed a white family of six dressed in tie-die t-shirts and matching cornrow haircuts for the Dispatch and O.A.R. music festivals, which were taking place next door at another luxury resort.
Their wacky tie-dye and corn-row symmetry was an expression of one of love’s rare surface synchronicity.The family—a mother, three daughters, and a son—almost brought Illenium to tears with their vibrancy and vitality.The light that shined off of them could have been aloe vera, given how it made his skin feel to the touch.
It was beautiful to be confronted in the hallway with what was feeling increasingly like a tomb of weaponized shame, an electric fantasy. Reality was ugly, but irreality is a numb trap, fertile for regret. He walked away from the beachfront, between his festival’s two luxury hotels.
“I want to hear you splash each other to this beat,” she said over the pool above his prison.
Illenium yelled out, but no one heard or saw him. and he kept moving.
“I just started raving,” said one woman. “I will celebrate like this for the rest of my life.” It’ll be my 89th birthday, and I’ll be raving!”
“I love my job,” said one man on an international getaway with his girlfriend. “When I say I love my job, I mean I love her a**,” he finished, grabbing the aforementioned. They sparked a J and offered it to a stranger.
Three men wrestled on the beach, taking turns once one was pinned to substitute in the freshest of the bunch, much to the pleasure of two women who watched from a bed set on the coast. The referee snapped his towel at the competitors before being tackled into the sand. There were a couple in the water playing with each other. She was taller than him by two heads, and they wore matching pink bathing suits.
One man did pushups in the sand as a woman counted him off.
The beauty of it all against the cold feeling of his feet was enough to drive a tear to Illenium’s dreaming eye.
“Do you have any test strips?” asked one woman in the hallway of the hotel. The housekeeper threw ours away.
There was a mother and daughter, one of whom was relocating to Connecticut and the other to Florida.”This is our goodbye festival,” they said. Mom said, “I f***ing love Illinois.”
“I saw him 14 times this year,” said one man.
The artist watched his frustration—a seed of anger—turn into a small strand of lightning. It joined one of the fog’s tendrils. He watched his pity sizzle and burn in the fog, but it was far too big to be cautious or take a step back.It rolled on.
“I believe in energy. “I believe in collective consciousness, and this is a prime example,” said one woman, spinning and gesturing to the crowd at the festival.
She wore a 3D-printed necklace of Illinium’s symbol, the phoenix.
And she showed a raving novice a handshake denoting peace, love, unity, and respect. The student said it was a high mountaintop on the starry range of his festival experience. And the starlight was in his eyes, too.
Illenium had heard enough. He found a spot under the glass near a sinewy-looking group of young men taking shots, and he tried to escape. He employed his full force. He kicked. He screamed. He panicked. He clawed. The skin of his knuckles began to give way.
And he didn’t see any way out, individually. His full-blown dream turned into a nightmare. He clawed and screamed for help. He ran in search of seams.
A surge of electric waves pushed him against the very back of the hallway. And the tempo of the popping lights speeded up. He rolled and scrambled and splashed chest-deep in the shocks and cuts of satin-thin currents, boisterous as bullhorns, and the brisking waves pushed him against the wall. And he didn’t see any way out, individually.
It felt like he had to get back. He had to return something. For the first time, he spoke in his dream rather than listening to his own voice, a mad mystery exacerbated by everything modern.ILLENIUM started to say, “I can’t do life by myself.” “And let me help people; and let me live my life and give people my experience and hope if they’re struggling, or else another light might go out.”
He awoke as if violently pushed by a hundred winds in his bedroom.
You can follow ILLENIUM on Instagram, here; listen to his latest single, “Worst Day,” featuring MAX, here; and follow him on TikTok, here. Catch one of his shows here.