Maybe he inherited it from the intensity from his hippy mother who named him from reading the Iliad, but Ilian Walker is intense and likes to talk. A lot. When we chatted he claimed he wasn’t quite ready for press interviews, but the man known as “the producers producer” talked my ear clean off with me saying nary a word. He was geared up to talk about his new album, Bohemia, his third studio album under the guise of Ils, he believes is his best to date, and I have to agree.
Part of the reason it is so masterful in production is that its working title was ‘Masterpiece’. I asked Walker why the change to Bohemia, and he explained that he didn’t want to seem too conceited. “A lot of people might not agree it’s a masterpiece, you know what I mean?” he laughs. “It was just a really motivational working title to push myself. “I found it useful and it did drive me to new levels. If you’ve got masterpiece written on post-it notes all around your house it constantly sets the bar higher and higher. When you’ve got like 30 tracks, and you’re trying to pick the best ones to finish, trying to give the whole thing continuity if in the back of your mind it’s “masterpiece masterpiece masterpiece” it really does affect your approach. I really thought I could do a really good job on this one, and it was just a working title to give me a kick in the arse,” he chuckles again.
Another reason the album sounds great is that it features some incredible vocal tracks, each of them deep and moving and sounding like actual songs, not just a beat with a vocal dropped over the top. “Developing a vocal tracks for me is really the next level,” Walker says. “It really is bloody challenging. I’ve mastered how to make instrumental music, I feel confident in myself I can make good instrumental music and tearing club tracks. I never really used lyrics in the past. I was a bit of an instrumental purist as a producer. I wanted to move toward lyrics for this album; it adds another dimension”. As to the content of the lyrics, he is, “very fussy about lyrics, for me they have to mean something. So those three songs on the album have a great deal of personal meaning for me. Cherish especially, it’s the summarisation of the human condition and if that song doesn’t touch you in some way you’re probably dead or something”, he laughs, punctuating with a “ya know what I mean? Maybe I’m just getting old and developing as a person or something like that,” he chortles.
“I think on an artist album, there’s always room for a couple of songs like that,” he continues, “otherwise it’s all very same-ish. If I was going to do a purely club thing I’d rather do a DJ mix CD, to get a clubtactic vibe off it. But an album should work on different levels. An album is a reflection of one’s self, whereas 12’s are DJ tools really.” He discusses his philosophical feelings behind his album, how it reflects his journey over the last few years, and normally I scoff at that kind of talk, but Walker told it with conviction and sincerity. “In all honesty,” he adds, “my ultimate goal for an album is longevity. In my head when I’m making an album, I’ve got my grandchildren, if they’ve heard of ‘crazy Grandpa Ils’, going up to the attic and finding the dusty CD and have a listen and go ‘fucking hell!!!’, you know what I mean?” he laughs, “something that will still have relevance.”
I note that the album is quite dark, with one song being written using the lyrics of Stevie Hyper D, his close friend and dnb MC who passed away in 1998, and Life Is Precious and Storm From The East, songs written about war. “I like quite atmospheric things, and that can be interpreted as a little bit dark, but I dunno,” he says “I didn’t set out to make a dark album. I’d say there’s a bit of a colouration in that direction and that often works well with breaks. I think it’s possibly a bit intense album in places,” he says stressing the word intense. However, it’s not completely intense or moody ‘listening’ material though, as Walker knows how to craft floor burners like Ill-Logic, Tiny Toy and the early Prodigy sounding Feed My Addiction. And we may be seeing some live Ils floor burning action later this year, as Walker hinted he may be coming to Australia in September or October, but wasn’t a 100% sure, so didn’t want me getting too excited.