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– interview by Jianda Johnson

Slowly, steadily, and sweetly in their own atypical way, the (he)art-rock project ILYA bestowed me with enough trust to interview with me not once, but twice. You see, they’re gentle in revealing their underbellies to folks. But when it comes to musical integrity and direction? ILYA is BRUTAL. Brutally-honest, brutally-lovely, brutally-raw, brutally-skilled. Taking no prisoners. Giving it all to you. Offstage, it’s a different matter entirely. I tried my best to respect their time, and talents. Maybe you can tell me how well I did. C’mon. Scale of 1-10:

JJ: You’d said the name “ILYA” is arbitrary: why do you want your band “NOT to represent,” as it were–what is the artistic statement this makes?

ILYA: The name “ILYA” (in the context of our music endeavor) is arbitrary – the meaning is not. ILYA represents: absence of judgement.

JJ: How long have you been together–how did ILYA come to be?

ILYA: Since February of 2001. ILYA came to be through six people getting together with the mutual passion to create something beautiful involving music, and the intent of forming a truly collaborative effort… no dictators. A platform where everyone could express themselves musically. It’s amazing how this works out. Although there are six of us, we always seem to figure out something that makes us all happy, and we are blessed to have this.

JJ: “Poise is The Greater Architect:” what’s the significance of this album title?

ILYA: Well…in the current music world it seems that brut force both musically and lyrically seems to be “the way to go” and very popular…we just feel that more “poise” and a gentler approach can be just as powerful, if not “greater.”

JJ: How are songwriting and lyrical duties split up, if at all?

ILYA: Matthew and Blanca use personal songs and poetry written years ago, or spontaneously create lyrics inspired by music ILYA plays during rehearsals.

JJ: How do you generate such atmospheric sounds–what kind of gear do you use?
ILYA: Pedals…experimentation and creativity with pedals…we have a lot of pedals. We really learned how many we had when we just had to bring them to Japan for tour.

JJ: You control your sounds and levels very masterfully, but–how much noise is too much? How do you craft the sound to be ‘just so?’

ILYA: Thank you for noticing. We all just know where we fit as individuals into the sound of ILYA. Nobody steps on each others “musical toes”. We know our place. There are a few points in our songs were we do get loud/noisy, but we do it in a dynamic way…we are very big on our dynamics.

JJ: How much would you say dreams and the unconscious influence your work?

ILYA: Dreams and the unconscious rarely influence our work – at times, they are the aftermath of our work.

JJ: Who does your artwork and photography–and what’s the concept for your CD cover art about?

ILYA: Our artwork and website is done by Duane (guitar). The photos were taken by Chari Verespej while she was in school for photography. Duane saw the photo (before it was the cover of course) and felt it visually fit the sound of “Poise…” and ILYA. He presented it to the rest of the band and everyone liked it.


ILYA: The cover photo is very much open to interpretation…just like our music.

But one way we look at it is that it’s very powerful, while still being gentle…which ties in with the title of the record.

JJ: How did you wind up in San Diego, or are all of you SD natives?

ILYA: All of us grew up in the San Diego area except Duane. He moved here in 1994 for his career as a professional skateboarder.

JJ: What is your work/studio ethic if any?

ILYA: Puntuality, accountability, respect, and HUMOR are our studio ethics.

JJ: What other modes of art would you say influence your work?

ILYA: Cinematography, photography, and literature.

JJ: Who are some of your favorite artists?

ILYA: We all have broad tastes in music, and they don’t all overlap…so, we don’t know if naming particular artists is fair to everyone in the band.

JJ: What’s a ‘dream collaboration for you–someone you have yet to work with but who you’d love to work with?

ILYA: There is probably only one person so far that we’ve discussed that would be a ‘dream collaboration,’ and that person is Nigel Godrich. For people who do not know him he’s the producer that worked with Radiohead on their last three records…especially OK Computer.

But surely, we’ll talk more about this subject before our next record.

JJ: How easy was it for you to find distribution for your music?

ILYA: Actually, as of now “Poise…” is self-released…so we have no distribution. We’re “feeling” around to see what’s best for ILYA. But so far, outlets like MP3.com have been a big help, as well as Better Looking Records (betterlookingrecords.com) for letting us sell the record on their site.

JJ: Thanks so much for allowing us this vantage point, this insight into your music. We wish you continued success.

Nab a copy of “Poise is the Greater Architect” and support indie-thinkers, indie-expression, and indie music. Sonic, heart, mind, body, soul, spirit voyages are guaranteed. This music is illustrious. For every ugly eep, bleep, bop and boombip, there is a sweet, soft, gentle ooh, ah, and summery whisper to keep their sound at once edge, balanced and challenging.



Thank you for your kind attention.

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