ILLLS - STEVEN ROSS


“The main thing I look for are simple melodies that people can easily remember but have a hard time forgetting.”

Last month ILLLS released his debut LP, Hideout From The Feeders via Aloe Music. Straight from Oxford, Mississippi, Steven Ross has brought us a delightful collection of tracks with the perfect dose of darkness. Since there’s a little bit of magic in it for everyone, a listen is highly recommended. It’s got enough fuzz for the heavy-hearted, but plenty of float for the dreamers too. Just be careful because some of the tracks are damn catchy, we’ve got ‘Out’ on repeat.



Were you expecting such a nice reaction to your debut LP?
Well I try not to expect anything. Everything in the music world comes and goes really quickly so it’s usually best to just keep your head down and keep recording.

Who do you bounce your ideas off now that you’re a one man band?
That was a little strange at first, but the main thing I use is time. After I record, I like to let things breathe for a few days. When I go back and listen, it’s almost like another person hearing it for the first time. I think showing people something you’ve done as soon as you finish is the worst thing you can do.

It’s pretty ballsy to persist and breathe life into a project that wasn’t originally solo. Did you ever think about letting the idea go?
I actually did for a while, but the project was so young then that it seemed like a waste to cut something off before it had really even started. In some ways I feel like it’s still really young so I’m ready to keep doing more and more with it.

Your music is delightfully dreamy, but there’s definitely a subtle darkness or heavier mood too. Do you consciously maintain this as to not blend in with the rest?
Yeah it’s actually kind of the reverse of that. I always start with ideas that seem like they have an overly dark or heavy mood. I try to inject some of the lighter elements to give it some balance and to also not let myself slip into the indulgences of being too self pitying or whiney.

The tone of the guitar throughout rings a New-Order-type-bell. Are they a big influence?
I hate to have influences that are too obvious or that I consciously fall back on in the writing process, but there’s no question that Peter Hook is one of those guys I always seem to come back to. The main thing I look for are simple melodies that people can easily remember but have a hard time forgetting. It’s hard to do that in general, but especially on bass like he did.

Mississippi has provided us with some real goodness as of late. Do you plan on staying put there for a while, or is there somewhere else you’d like to go to mix things up (from a creative point of view)?
That’s a big decision I’m in the process of making right now. I will most likely be moving in the next few months, but not necessarily for creative stimulation. The group of friends/bands that are in Oxford is more than enough to keep me motivated and excited about music, there’s just only so much you can do in a town this small. I’ve never felt any connection or pride for the place I’m from. It’s great if you like where you live but I don’t think just because a person is born somewhere means he or she has to like it. In general the South is terrible, I just got lucky enough to spend a few years in one of the good spots.

Research tells me you don’t take yourself too seriously, which is a good thing of course. What else gets you going other than music?
I think there is a time to take yourself seriously, like when you’re recording, and then a time to realise that nothing really matters that much. I have a lot of other interests and things I’m planning on pursuing in the future, but for now I’m putting pretty much everything into music. Between working, recording and drinking with friends, there’s not a lot of time left for anything else.

What bands do you want to catch live in the next few months?
That’s hard to say. I’m on tour right now with my friend, Cole’s band, Dead Gaze, and I usually just like seeing what bands we end up playing with. There is a lot of stuff coming out that I like right now but it changes every week.

If you could collaborate with one artist (dead or alive) who would it be?
I’ve gotten that question before but I really don’t know. Honestly I’m really enjoying the freedom of not collaborating with anyone right now so I might have to pass that one up ha!

Finally, what’s on the radar for you in 2014?
Hopefully 2014 will be really busy. Looking to start the year at SXSW, followed by some U.S. touring and then have the next record out late in the year. Like I said, I’m just going to keep my head down and keep recording.
Deafen Countyillls, Oxford