Second Whistler visit for Illy 

The Australian rapper returns with No. 1 album Two Degrees behind him

PHOTO SUBMITTED - A Good Year Illy has had a good year for new music and is bringing it to Garfinkel's.
  • PHOTO submitted
  • A Good Year Illy has had a good year for new music and is bringing it to Garfinkel's.

Last time he was in Whistler, in 2015, Aussie rapper Illy brought his homework with him — writing songs for what eventually became his first No. 1 album in Australia, Two Degrees.

The album, Illy's fifth, was released last November to acclaim, and now comes the Canadian tour — with a stop at Garfinkel's on Sunday, March 5, at 9 p.m.

"I loved it there in 2015. It was my first tour of Canada," Illy recalls over the phone from Melbourne.

"I was working hard at it. I came home and worked to get the album out; it has done really well, and the first singles did really well. Our third single off Two Degrees has just been launched at home."

Two Degrees is has more electronic influence, he says, moving away from a strictly hip-hop sound.

Illy says: "It has pop as well as rap. When I was planning it I could see that I wanted to make it more challenging, more melodic. And I've been really enjoying that. I've always loved big choruses and melodies.

"I got the experience in music over the past few years, and all I needed was the confidence to do it. For me, I wanted to do it whole-heartedly."

And this success has made him more ambitious.

"So, this time it will be the a bigger Canadian tour. We'll be going to Toronto and Montreal for the first time, and I just cannot wait to see it. I really wanted to get to the east."

Illy is also looking forward to a little cool weather in Canada after a scorching summer in Australia — maybe with the temperatures hovering around two degrees, like the album itself.

When the opportunity to return came up through his agent, he pounced on it.

"With winter being there, I really wanted to get back as soon as possible. It has been a scorcher summer, so I am ready for a bit of a change. It will be well worth it getting to Whistler," says Illy, who describes himself as "a very, very amateur snowboarder."

He adds: "I am ready for your cold. That said, we'd probably stand out with our tans." 

Two singles off Two Degrees, "Catch 22" (featuring Anne-Marie) and "Papercuts" (featuring Vera Blue), have brought Illy his highest chart success for singles as well — and both made it to the Australia Day's Triple J Hottest 100 Countdown, coming No. 23 and No. 7, respectively.

"This is the eighth year in a row that I've made it to the Triple J Countdown," Illy says.

"It's pretty crazy."

He laughs to hear the Australia Day antics in the resort, where most clubs play the countdown, and the party lasts for two days.

"We played in Whistler on a Tuesday, and I remember that it was crazy, but I don't know what it would be like for Australia Day!" Illy says.

He says that the chart does more for emerging Australian artists.

"In Australia, it gets a lot of attention, everyone has it on. But it's more of boost for a new artist — it can do a lot to make a career when everything is on an upward trajectory," Illy says.

"For me it's still very cool, but not quite as much of big deal. I am still very happy, though!"

The Whistler show will have Illy accompanied by a drummer and DJ.

"I'm excited to be coming back. Those people at the show last time, they will have a good idea of what we're about," he says.

"We want to get people sweating and jumping around, partying and just showing them a good time."

He plans to spend the majority of 2017 touring in support of the album. Canada is the first call, then back to Australia for a national tour, followed by Europe and a return to North America later in the year.

"I might try to start work on new material in the down time," he says. But I'm trying to stay away from it in order to get sanity back. One thing for sure, it is going to still be a busy year, I know that much," he says.

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