Ill Blu interview: “Royal.”

Rare chat with excellent, elusive UK Funky duo ahead of _Bellion/Dragon Pop_, their first EP for Hyperdub coming out in July.

20.06.10

Words by: Ruth Saxelby

Most UK Funky can’t be bought in shops, or well anywhere really, so it’s thanks to Hyperdub (check a release roundup here) that ILL BLU – one of the scene’s most prolific production duos – can finally be heard in the privacy of your own home, away from clubs and outside of pirate radio sets. Following a string of instant scene-classics including Blu Magic, Time To Get Nasty and Princess Nyah’s sensually menacing Frontline, ILL BLU’s first single for Kode 9’s label is headed by the carnivalesque Bellion but it’s the ultra-stark, 808-heavy (and we do mean heavy) and percussive b-side Dragon Pop (listen above) that truly stuns and should really be four times its mere four-minute length. An elusive pair, James and Darius nee ILL BLU are tough to pin down, but I spoke to them for a quickfire MSN convo one afternoon to talk beat auctions, shades of blue and Cheryl and Ashley.

Dummy says:
Your tracks are pretty hard to get hold of – how come you’ve released so little?

darius says:
we try to keep exclusivity

Dummy says:
I heard a lot of producers sell instrumentals to DJs directly as it’s a better way to make money than pressing up CDs or 12s.

Ill Blu says:
we understand that and also apply that approach

Dummy says:
Are there any DJs that pay more than others? Does it get competitive?

Ill Blu says:
lol nah

darius says:
everyone gets the same price

Dummy says:
So do you let one DJ have it first or do you let everyone buy it?

darius says:
the most influential djs get the promo first and that gets the ball rolling

Dummy says:
How did you get together as producers? Were you making grime before?

Ill Blu says:
we were making hip hop before i met darius when he was doing his own solo music and we worked together on a hip hop group called G*fam which nyah was also a part of

Dummy says:
Had you made anything like house before? What made you switch?

Ill Blu says:
weve always been into and listened to Uk music, garage, grime etc. the catalyst for us producing funky was frontline

Dummy says:
You remixed Cheryl Cole’s Parachute – what other pop stars would you like to remix or work with?

Ill Blu says:
Hmm

Ill Blu says:
still thinking

Dummy says:
Ok.

[Some time later…]

darius says:
janet jackson, kelis, alicia keys, jay-z, nas, and ellie golding

Dummy says:
Do you think Cheryl should have divorced Ashley or stuck with him?

Ill Blu says:
she did what she thought was best he cheated on her with several women

darius says:
erm im not too fussed really!!! but i guess love is over powering so if she loves him then go for it

Ill Blu says:
the trust is gone in that relationship lol

Dummy says:
What are some good things about producing in a duo?

Ill Blu says:
you can bounce ideas off one another

Dummy says:
What other funky producers are you into at the moment?

Ill Blu says:
champion, hardhouse banton, dj Gregory, funkystepz

Dummy says:
Do you have a favourite shade of blue?

Ill Blu says:
Royal

Dummy says:
You have that robo-voice that says your name on all your tracks – do you prefer that to how some producers brand their tracks by talking at the start?

darius says:
yeah

Ill Blu says:
yeah i don’t like producers talking on the intros

darius says:
talking at the beginning is unprofessional i think.

Ill Blu Bellion/Dragon Pop is out on Hyperdub in early July.

Ill Blu’s myspace

READ SUNIL’S INTERVIEW WITH MARCUS NASTY FROM LATE LAST YEAR.