Interview: Illyria

Today I have Ilija from Post Black Metal band Illyria with me for a chat, find out more about the group in the following interview:

Where does the name Illyria come from?

I studied ancient history in high school and one of the main topics was the powerful expansion of Roman Republic/Empire. ‘Illyria’ is the Latin provincial name of the Western Balkans that the Romans occupied. It sounded similar to my name and it also affected me geographically because I am from Serbia which was classified under Illyria… it all lined up for the perfect name for a musical project I wanted to start.

Your genre is “Post Black Metal”, how would you describe this?

On paper, I like to keep it simple: post-rock and black metal forged to create complementing sounds of chaos and beauty. When it comes to our music on a compositional level, there are definitely more influential aspects such as progressive rock/metal and also some alternative indie music.

Your single Sarim is gaining fans, what is the song all about?

Sarim is a very pleasant song however it is also quite mysterious. It is about the first time I played an online multiplayer game called Runescape when I was 10 years old – I had no clue how to play, I just walked everywhere. One of the first places I recall travelling was a fishing village called ‘Port Sarim’, now ten years later I still play the game when I have free time. The whole band plays, we wanted to seize this first album to reflect on our younger times. Sarim is about cherishing the memories of being a child and appreciating the innocence because there’s no way will I feel that again – it is a personal nostalgia trip to comforting times.


Where do you get your inspiration?

In my final year of high school I found a band called Deafheaven and they released ‘Roads to Judah’. At first I was a bit shocked because it was ‘black metal’ but it wasn’t the Norwegian church-burning stereotype that I only perceived at the time. I delved in the opposite way that most people discover the beauty of black metal; I found all these bands like Alcest, Lantlôs and Wolves in the Throne Room… I instantly fell in love with the atmosphere and emotions they portrayed – it captivated me so much. Obviously when the other guys joined the band they chipped in their styles and now it’s amalgamated into something we love that we can call our own.

Who is the band made up of and who does what?

Illyria originally used to be a duo-project but over the years it’s now a complete five-piece band. Matt plays drums, Dan plays bass and James, George and I are all on the six-strings. Added onto that I also perform all the vocals as well on the album but for live we like to share the load.

How did you come together?

It was originally George and I at the start, we only released our first single Cold Summer together but after that we were ambitious and wanted to turn the online project into a band. It took us just under a year but I managed to convince Matt who was in my other band at the time to play drums for us and George swayed his close friends Daniel and James to fill the gaps. We are a tight contingency and are all on the same wavelength to make the music we love.

Who is the comedian of the group?

Everyone is quite the comedian to be honest but if there is one absolute stand-out it’s definitely George. I would call him more a ‘court-jester’ in contrary to a comedian to be honest… normally we laugh at him than with him because of the sheer stupidity and accidental acts he commits. Plus he definitely provides the absolute weirdest memes that make you go ‘what the heck?’ in the band-chat.

What is the music scene like in Perth, are there many opportunities for up and coming bands?

Perth is a unique city artistically. It is so isolated from the world so it is a significantly tight community. Despite this it is also very distant to the rest of the world and makes it hard to understand other city-demographics. You sometimes forget that there is a whole world out there with a plethora of bands like your own. Thankfully, Perth is large enough to bring in sublime musical acts but it is also a small bottleneck for bands here to go out to the world and showcase their music. The music scene is very supportive here given context that there are a lot of bands in the scene and majority of musicians in Perth are also the fans. The aura from Perth’s music scene is very cooperative and tolerant, diverse styles of music and venues are always encouraged. Due to this, there are so many more opportunities to play shows on a local and regional level. I hope that if we keep this positive attitude over time we will obtain more rewards in the future.

How do you feel when you hear your music played on Triple J?

I remember the first time we heard our song on Triple J. It was ‘Wonder’ on-air via Short.Fast.Loud. It had been well-received on Unearthed so it was an amazing opportunity already. We all tuned in together and we were absolutely buzzing! I think our favourite moment though however is before they played our track they absolutely butchered the pronunciation of our name. We took it like champs but we laughed for hours and hours just for how they tried to say our name. It’s definitely something that we’ll always remember and yes they have improved since then.

What was the process like when putting together your self-titled album?

It was a beautiful blessing and a horrible, horrible curse. My best friend from school Jeremy engineered, mixed and mastered the whole album and bless him because there was like 150+ unique tracks that was slowly destroying his computer. We took our time to record yet we were naturally nit-picky with our approach – it took us over a year to get it all done. It was a ridiculously exhausting process but rewarding in the end for not only us but also for Jeremy.


Tell us a little bit about the cover art….

A young local art student named Jade Hewton created it – by hand. It still astounds me to this day how someone so young can draw that. I bought the art instantly as I believe the chimera perfectly showcases the three different natures of our music represented by each animal. I would love to work with her more in the future and if not, I hope other bands/artists utilise her talent.

What is next for Illyria?

The day we released our album we instantly had a meeting of where to go from there because despite being personally active for 3 years… it really is only the beginning now. Album 2 is still a long and thorough compositional process but overall we want to play more shows. We want to build a strong and solid foundation in Perth and the rest of Australia first before anywhere. If any opportunity arises of course we’ll take it, but we are focussing on working hard here in our own backyard first.

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