What is your name?
My name is illEgo and I consider myself a rising MC from the UK and have some South African heritage which I’m very patriotic about.
Where are you from?
My family was born out there and moved here a long time ago due to the apartite. I’ve lived on my own since i was 16/17 and recently I’ve just moved hometowns to a town called Brighton in the South East of the UK right by the sea. A lot of people ask why the name ‘illEgo’ – it derived from me making a statement about my mental illness as well as the multiple ego’s that I hear in my head and write in the style of as well as a word play on the word ‘illegal’ to mark a moving on from my previous life.
How long have you been in the industry?
Officially, I’ve only been in this music industry for roughly approaching 5 months now, I wrote and released my first song about 3 years ago now at the end of 2018. That was called ‘Enemies’ which spoke about my view on politics across both the UK and the US. I didn’t do much promotion for this song at the time and I didn’t really have the courage or the willpower to fully devote my time to music, I didn’t have much faith in myself. But I got roughly 2000+ streams across all platforms on that which at the time I was over the moon about, I made a little noise in my old local town but nothing much came of it and I didn’t have the same spark I do now to write and perform. So it was early 2020 I had fully made up my mind about what I wanted to do with my life – write music. I applied and was accepted to BIMM Brighton University to study a Degree in Songwriting which further bolstered my confidence that I could actually achieve something with my music so I spent most of the year preparing for it and dropped my next song ‘My Struggle’ in October, which was quite a nice success with about 10k across all platforms. So I consider that the date that I officially stepped into the music industry.
What is your biggest achievement?
I wouldn’t actually say I have achieved too much in this time, however I am very proud of the networks I have made, and how much I have invested into myself. To manage to build up to 9k following on Instagram in the time I’ve been doing this as well as a small following on Spotify and so far my biggest single is ‘Cold’ which is at 22.2k streams roughly on Spotify alone. So I’m proud to have a very small fanbase already which is a big achievement to me. Unless you consider factors of my life in this question, in which case I would say overcoming living alone from a young age and quitting hard substances.
How has COVID affected you on your music journey?
This next question actually leads on from my last answer a little. Covid has affected my journey quite massively to be honest. If it hadn’t have happened I may not have made the drastic and major changes that I needed to make in my life in order for me to begin this journey. COVID was a slap in my face, the kick I needed to put myself in the right direction. Before COVID I was playing games at a professional level and making ‘okay’ money from it, it was helping me pay the bills at best and it was fun, but alongside that I was addicted to a few substances that just really took over my life. When COVID hit, suddenly I was being shown exactly the type of life I was living and i didn’t like it one bit, i wasn’t happy at all sitting inside from dawn until dusk playing video games, a lot of the time this would be until early hours of the morning as I was in a US team playing online tournaments a lot of the time. So as soon as i was almost presented with my life in front of me, and forced to sit inside and play games and i was looking at myself in the mirror and I just realized there’s so much i was unhappy about and i used these substances and gaming to escape it all. So when COVID hit, I really just figured there’s no better time to change because I don’t think I could’ve mentally dealt with being locked down in the state I was in back then. I really realized once we were locked down, what really made me happy, and the only thing that would go around my head was writing rhymes, poetry, Hip-Hop & Rap.
What is my next move?
That’s an interesting question to be honest. So far I’ve kind of just winged everything that I’ve done so far, but I’ve been learning a lot about the business side of music and I’ve somewhat made a roadmap of music and a little plan to get some exposure to it when the time is right. Currently I have a few more singles to drop that will be featured on my album ‘EXHALE’ which will be released in the coming months. Hopefully by April. So until then i will be dropping particular songs from the album to hype it up and give a taste of what is to be presented on this concept album which focuses on angry and sad emotions primarily, so there’s a variety of angry and emotional tunes throughout the 18 tracks (so far) on the album! The reason I chose this concept is because I have suffered with Mental Health for the majority of my life and I’ve always struggled to speak out about it or find help, and I really want to be an advocate / figurehead for the mental health community, I’d like my music to help people suffering and relate to them because I went through a lot of stuff on my own and lost, music was the only thing that was there for me. So I’d like to give that back to others as there is limited music out there that really focuses on mental health. Sure, emo rap is a genre and it is more widely accepted and spoken about but I don’t think its yet majorly understood.
Are you working on any projects?
Haha, yes, of course I am working on projects! In fact i may as well give you the exclusive information on my upcoming projects as a homage to this being my first press release. As I’ve just said there’s my album ‘EXHALE’ and I will be following that up with a Punk Rap EP called ‘Change the Pace’ – this will probably be 3/4 maybe 5 tracks long and will dip into the punk rap genre of hip hop because i actually only discovered my passion for hip hop through Linken Park and their rapper Mike Shinoda a.k.a Fort Minor. SO I really wanted to explore that style whilst ‘EXHALE’ has a variety of different emotional and angry upbeat and slow songs, I want ‘Change the Pace’ to be a real challenge to my creativity and express more of my roots with music and more appealing sounds. Following that, I have another EP which I haven’t actually named yet but I can say that these both will be lined up and nicely spaced out after my album drops. I’ve been putting in a lot of work towards this roadmap and I’ll continue to build on it as I go. I’m actually very excited to work on the ‘Change the Pace’ EP and really show my versatility as an artist. Should be a really upbeat EP as well.
Where do I see myself in 1 year?
I’ve thought about this quite a lot, but I’m not holding myself to high expectations to just be let down. I would hope to have a small following in one year and hopefully to have played live at a few venues and established myself more into the local hip hop scene here in Brighton. Which appears to have started to actually make a little noise and pop – I consider myself to be somewhat of a unique artist, my style I haven’t really heard anywhere else which I’d like to think makes me stand out, it could also mean I am a particular taste but I would hope that in a full year I would have progressed my music career to at least be more active and to have networked and made more connections within the industry. I’d like to have more of a name to myself, not much but at least be a few steps ahead of where I am now. I still have a few years of my Degree in songwriting to do, so that will take me on its own journey of networks and connections. If all goes to plan, I may not even finish my degree – all depends how well my music career goes in these 3 years – but I won’t get too ahead of myself there. Just gonna keep working hard and grinding towards it.
If you could pick one or the other what would you choose? Money or Fame?
A great question to close this interview with. To be honest, if I was given the choice I would actually choose fame. I don’t do this for the money or fame but I do do this music for the sake of my mental health and for others. If I can change at least one single life with my music, I will feel fulfilled that I have achieved something because success to me isn’t how hard you work or how much money you make, it’s about how much difference you can make to the world and people around you. So I would choose fame because that would give me a huge platform to speak more about mental health, support it and really help others with whatever it is they are suffering with. I have overcome addictions and I am still fighting the demons of my health but I know that it is easier to do that with support and I would love to provide any sort of comfort / support to people as I can through my music. Having a platform to really speak about my opinion on things and be a presence like that, that is why I do music. I do it for the passion and energy, the ability to talk emotionally and tell a story. Of course I would love to have lots of money from it – who wouldn’t but I think that the materialistic part of money just doesn’t interest me when it comes to the goals of my music. I just want to save some lives and make a difference. So yeah, I’d want fame. Despite not really knowing if I would cope with it very well at all!
Thankyou for the interview! I look forward to the future of my career and I really love feedback in my DMs about what you think of my music! So yeah.. I guess please steam my music and enjoy it! There’s a lot more to come!
Listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0knpCigV1n9RAfvmsvRsdk?si=QxW1uA-tQhWpp7vMYMA5wQ
Listen on Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/gb/artist/ill-ego/1458396171
Follow on IG: https://www.instagram.com/illego_official/