[Interview] ILUKA


Taking elements from all things yesteryear and infusing them into her rich, brassy sound,  Sydney-based Independent gem, Iluka (the retro alter-ego of Nikki Thorburn) makes for one gloriously passé listening experience packed with quirky eclecticism. And now thanks to the Mushroom Group and Commercial Radio Australia’s “First Break Competition”, those glorious sounds will soon be coming at you from the commercial radio air waves, guaranteeing a big year ahead. Chloe Webb caught up the decadent darling herself for the low-down on her win, and what the future for Iluka holds.

You recently were announced the winner of Commercial Radio Australia & The Mushroom Groups “First Break” Competition…  Congratulations! How are you feeling?
I still don’t think it has completely sunk in! I got the news while on the road travelling, so I think at the time I felt a bit detached. Now that I’ve returned to Australia and we’re starting to really map out the next 12 months, the enormity of it all has only just started dawning on me!

The win has been receiving a whole heap of attention. What does the prize entail exactly?
The prize covers the release of two singles through The Mushroom Group with artwork and videos, and includes marketing, promotion, publicity, and tour support. The prize also comes with a commitment from Commercial Radio Australia for airplay and commercial support. Very exciting, especially to be working alongside Mushroom who I have always thought were such a great Indie label!

Safe to say big things are happening for ILUKA this year! … Any hints?
Don’t want to be giving away any surprises now. Safe to say it will definitely be a busy one!

Your sound is jam-packed with eclectic stylings. Who, What and Where inspires you?
I think for me inspiration is ever-changing – I am always drawing upon new things to keep myself creatively stimulated. Greek & Norse mythology, Pop Art, French cinema, silent film, eastern philosophy, epic poetry, beat poetry and folklore… Musically my influences range from 1930s Gospel/Soul music to 1940’s/50’s Samba, ska and Cabaret through to everything I was exposed to growing up, for the most part Blues, Folk, Jazz and Rock n’ Roll that came out of the 50’s and 60’s.

You’ve just arrived home after traveling to Thai-Laos. What did you discover there?
Nothing and everything… For me travelling and being on the road is just something I need, almost like a drug to satisfy the creative palette! I get bored by comfort and feeling settled so new countries and cultures provide a really stimulating environment and often a vastly different perspective. I also have a fascination with Eastern philosophy and belief systems, which this trip allowed me to delve deeper into by living in a Buddhist monastery for a time, as well as visiting many hill tribes who have an incredibly deep sense of faith and continue to observe long standing rituals on a daily basis.

Tell us about playing to a Cambodian Village Children’s Community Centre. That must have been a pretty magical experience?
Yeah it was amazing. The most inspiring part was how much love and joy these kids had to give despite all having very little materially and living in very poor conditions. Despite all they had gone through, often many having come off the street, they were able to just be kids which I think in this day and age in the Western world is a very difficult for children to do. Perhaps we could learn a lesson or two!

The Australian Independent music scene is teeming with hidden gems just like yourself… Who should we be listening too?
Ooh’ so many! Ngaiire, Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes, Papa Pilko & the Binrats, The Twoks, The Harlots, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Saskwatch, Kira Puru & the Bruise…just to name a few! People just need to get out there and look…they won’t have to look far, and the local scene needs all the support it can get!

Iluka performs at the Metro Theatre, Sydney (supporting Kitty, Daisy & Lewis) on Saturday March 30.

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