It’s been a great start for Hamilton’s electronic rock band Illitry (ILL-a-tree). The young band has shared the stage with Rich Aucoin, Eight and a half, Zammuto (formerly The Books), Shout Out Out Out Out and DIANA. They played a well-received set at Hamilton’s annual Super Crawl festival and performed earlier this month at Opera House in Toronto for Canadian Music Week. Not only is Illitry currently prepping their debut EP, but they are also busy rehearsing as our first guest artist in the new HPO Indie Series, which launches this summer on June 25.
We had a chance to catch up with Troy Witherow, lead singer of Illitry. Here’s what he had to say about Illitry’s journey so far.
Illitry is a project that I started at the end of 2011. At the time, I was becoming more and more interested in electronic music mostly because it could be performed solo, and I had no band mates. I had a small history of performing as an acoustic singer/song-writer but had grown tired of that performance style. I wanted to create something more expansive; something bigger and enveloping. As it turns out, the world of electronic music was quite the rabbit hole for me. Almost 4 years later, and I have nearly abandoned the guitar, my drummer plays a skeletal hybrid of a kit and musicianship has become as much about tweaking parameters and launching sequences as it is about chops – maybe more.
Live performance has been a central component to Illitry but recordings are on the way. We’ve released a string of singles, all recorded, produced and mixed at Threshold Recording Studio by my man Michael Keire (who has been an amazing asset to this band, and at times has felt like a true band member). Our first multi-song release The Sunset EP is coming this year. Sonically, a goal of mine in the recording process has been to blur any lines that might separate acoustic instruments from electronics. So, a vocal might endure enough processing to sound like it’s from another planet, while a synth might be recorded raw, gritty and as is. This is not a new concept by any means, but I think this is what has created that haziness often associated with our music, sounds and poetry all drenched in the same dusty twilight. I always feel like the music sounds like it’s the end of something, but for me it’s actually much closer to the beginning.
Over the past few months, Hamilton-based composer, arranger and rock musician Christien Ledroit has worked alongside Troy, with Illitry band members Kevin Fraser and Michael Boyd to create innovative music that highlights the skills of the band’s musicians and your HPO. We asked Troy to share his experience in blending Hamilton’s vibrant classical and indie rock genres.
We’re not just trying to butt the heads of these two ideas together and see what happens. It’s more like we’re trying to weave them together in an artistic way. We’re trying to blur the boundaries and even forget about categories of acoustic versus electronic. We’re levelling the playing field of those two worlds. That’s always been a big part of this band in general so having the opportunity to do it with members of an orchestra is like seeing that vision more fully.
This concert features Illitry’s own original works including Wildberry, arrangements of songs by contemporary electronic artists and music by French romantic composers Ravel and Faure. Illitry will be joined by HPO musicians including Principal Bassist Rob Wolanski, violinist Sonia Shklarov, violinist Cecilia Chang, violist Karen Matsumaru and clarinetist Margaret Gillie.
Check out Illitry’s brand new video for Wildberry below. This song will be re-imagined for orchestral ensemble and the new arrangement premieres at the concert on June 25.
Over the past two years, the HPO has built on partnerships with local artists like beatboxer Hachey the MouthPEACE and rock band Thought Beneath Film. The new HPO Indie Series brings our region’s local emerging artists and professional orchestra together for a collaborative, cross-genre approach to music-making that is relevant and unique to Hamilton.
Discover and share this exciting new concert experience. It’s all about Hamilton’s vibrant music scene. Your scene.
HPO Indie Series
Thurs., June 25 at 7:30pm
Park St. Gasworks
(141 Park St. N., Hamilton)