Singer, DJ, MC and producer Ill-Esha brings raw power and a fresh style to the electronic music scene. Known for her seamless incorporation of original vocals and MCing into her DJ set, her live shows features mostly original music chopped, screwed and beatmatched with live vocal effects and loops over top.
For many years ill-esha has weathered the dynamic, often ephemeral soundscape of Electronic music, simply by being an original. “I’m not really an observer. I’m very much a participant and a creator,” self-describes the Vancouver, British Columbia-born artist, songwriter, producer, and DJ. “Everything I do in my life, it quickly becomes way more than a hobby.” From growing up in the EDM hotbed of the Pacific Northwest, attending raves in her teens, Ill-esha accelerated her musical passions to the fullest. “First I wanted to be part of this culture as a DJ, doing vocals and curating music. After that, I also needed to participate in the music I was playing,” referring to her progression as a producer and headlining performer. “I’ve just been moving one step up at a time over the years, into being this completely original show.”
Although Ill-esha’s professional career dates back to the late 90s, the Denver, Colorado-based artist asserts that her recent evolution in music greatly contrasts with her initial work. “I spent about a decade in the Drum & Bass world. I was one of two Drum & Bass female MCs in the whole country, for a long time. That’s how I got my start, and started touring.” Delving further into making the kind of music she wanted on her playlist, Ill-esha’s journey broke out of genre. “Something about Drum & Bass just isn’t what I make,” she says, becoming a pioneering artist in the Glitch Hop movement. Even that musical taxonomy is something that today, the veteran shakes off. “It now means something very different from what I do.” Currently immersed in Future-Bass, Ill-esha’s music captivated audiences in 2013, tied to three separate tours, alongside Bassnectar, Beats Antique, and Big Gigantic. With the increasing dates and venues, the artist remains committed to her audience. “After that experience, I upgraded my set-up. Now I have custom stands, instruments—even if it’s heavy and expensive to travel with, I’m proud that authenticity is what matters most in my music.”
While Open Heart Surgery is Ill-esha’s most recent release, it represents a cathartic benchmark, allowing her greatest progression yet. “As soon as the album came out, a lot of positive stuff now came to my life.” It was around this time that Ill-esha formed Polar Vortex with her husband SAUCEmonster, a constantly touring group that features mixed media, videos synced to live instrumentation and electronic percussion. With a new family, non-stop touring, and constant collaboration, a blissful Ill-esha describes her newest creations as upbeat, positive parallels to her life. “I feel resolved now. Hopefully my happy music is just as good.” With that constant driving bass, freestyle, and soulful lyrics, it surely is.