Independent Artist of the Week: ilex
January 27th 2023
Sydney drummer, percussionist and producer Holly Conner brings a new sound to the ambient music scene under her solo name, ilex. Expanding on what is now her signature sound, ilex focuses on immersing the listener into her creative textual soundscape. Holly is a highly sought out percussionist and drummer performing and creating with a number of bands across Sydney, including Microfiche, Minus Marcus, Clews, Angeles and Glen Hopper. She’s also our Independent Artist of the Week this week, so she joined Lill Scott on Up For It! to tell us about he music that earned her that title.
“This is my solo project, it’s a chance to explore all the things I want to explore. That I maybe don’t get to explore in those other bands. I guess that means taking a more textual, ambient sort of approach to percussion. A bit different to playing live drums – belting the drums. It’s a chance to explore another side of my musical personality and kind of find the beautiful sides of percussion and maybe something a bit more unexpected.”
The newest release, ‘what is soft is now strong’, adds a sunny disposition into her discography. Knitting together a collection of synthesizers, birdsong, filter sweeps, warm bass, and her own acoustic percussive samples – most notably the vibraphone – creates a bright, other-worldly, atmospheric tune. A chorus of birdsong is reminiscent of Australian summers where the weather is warmer, and the days are longer.
“I actually wrote this track for [Microfiche]. Originally it was all acoustic with double bass, drums, saxophone, trumpet, piano, clarinet. I did always want to make my own version of it, the ilex version of it. Years later, I came back to it, and finally had the time to make it electronic version, make it the way I want to make it”
ilex’s sounds can evoke a series of emotions that differs for everyone. Some find it melodic and uplifting, others can feel the varying intricacies of human emotions. Each song takes the listener on a journey of their own making.
“The aim is to create an immersive space that makes you imagine landscapes, go outside your present moment. Maybe think about dreams or spark your imagination.”
“I’m thinking about a mood. Sometimes I guess I imagine colours. Definitely trying to capture a feeling. It might not be a specific feeling, but I want people to feel something when they listen to the music.”
ilex’s creative process involves a heavy amount of experimentation, again exploring the different sounds of percussive instruments that are often labelled as heavy and industrial. ilex subverts expectation and shows how dulcet and diaphanous percussive instruments can be.
“Lots of effects in Albeton, and taking my own sample, my own acoustic percussion. I have a wide collection of odd and different percussion instruments and I put effects on them to put them in other world – delays, reverb, looping.”
ilex’s new age sound is a headphones-on, closed-eyes and an open-heart listening to complement her dreamy abstract electronic tunes. Listen back to her interview with Lill Scott up top or stream ‘what is soft is also strong’ below.