Creating a group of creative, like-minded individuals who can communicate and collaborate to achieve an artistic goal seems like an almost impossible feat to accomplish when the concept is laid out on paper. Few people have been able to put aside any ego or complete creative control in pursuit of artistic excellence. Illusion Hills has smashed those expectations and keep proving to be one of the most innovative and enticing young collectivites releasing art today.
Illusion Hills floated onto the scene with their dreamy 2020 project Summers Almost Over Mixtape, a 10 track expedition that introduced the world to their youthful glow and playful songwriting. The mixtape got a makeover when they released Summer in Slow Motion, a reimagined version of their debut. We see the group completely change the feeling of the project, slowing down tempos and adding an overall moody feeling to what was originally a bright batch of songs.
Together, the 8 artists that make up Illusion Hills established themselves as a group who should not be compared and are willing to challenge themselves creatively for the ultimate goal of releasing high quality art. Since their last project, they have released two singles, the high-energy “Weirdo” and their latest, “genesis”. The latter being a hyper-speed trip through the wide spectrum of human emotions. The genre-bending single is Illusion Hills in their purest form, young, love-struck poets trying to make sense of the trials and tribulations that come with being a young adult.
Loading Magazine had the pleasure to speak with Illusion Hills about their latest single and plans for the future.
Who is who in the group and what is everyone’s role?
Brandon: We have 8 members in the group. 4 Vocalists which are mj, Jay, SAI, and Kyle with mj and Jay also doing production, 2 filmmakers which are Pada and I (Brandon), our photographer Alyssa, and our beloved graphic designer Salad.
Where is everyone from?
Alyssa: I’m from LA, born and raised. Salad is from Rhode Island. Everyone else is from Orange County, California.
The new single “genesis” is quite the odyssey of a track, how did it come together?
mj: Yes thank you! So basically last July I was going through a very tough breakup and we had been making so much sad stuff and Jay was just tired of making sad music so we decided to just mess around with some stuff on Logic Pro. We made the instrumental and it made me feel optimistic about the whole situation. That hook just came to me and I was just saying “I’ma come back” over and over again.
Was this done all in one session?
mj: Nope. We have been working on this song since last July and have kinda chipped away at it little by little. We went to Bup’s place in September and in December to record most of the vocals on the record. Jay and I thought it was definitely missing something, so we added a guitar voice memo of him singing at the end and added a couple more layers. Finally finished mixing and mastering it by the end of January which was such a pain. Then boom, we finished the song.
Where did the name illusion hills come from?
mj: illusion hills basically just sounds super cool, but along the years we have given it a lot more meaning. To each their own but the way I see it, illusion hills is the state of mind you reach when doing the thing you love most and be in the calmest peace possible. Like if you love riding your bike and when you are on that bike you are able to be free and like all the weight is lifted off your shoulders. Originally, I wanted to make illusion hills a clothing brand so I made the instagram for it. Then later when we wanted to make a creative group I was like “hollup this is perfect.”
What was the conversation like when structuring a song like this? (Jay)
Jay: We came up with the hook first when we originally made the instrumental. Around the same time we went to record with our friend Ed (Buppy.) and he loved the idea and said he would write for the first part of the song. While Buppy recorded his part, we all made the basis of our recordings in his room. We wanted the song to feel like it had a lot of atmosphere and at the same time make it nostalgic looking back at our lives and moving on.
Were there other versions of “genesis” before you landed on the version that was released?
Jay: Yes! I think there are like 10 different versions of “genesis”. We liked the first ones a lot but the song structure felt really normal and they felt kind of empty so we tried to add other different ways to make the song more interesting but also make it feel like we weren’t dragging on the song for no reason. The ending of the song was one of my voice memos I had in my phone from months ago and mj had the idea of putting a part in the song kinda like the end of “Streetcar” by Daniel Caesar and I dug through my phone to find something that would fit.
Do you feel the environment has an effect in your creative process?
Brandon: Being comfortable in my workspace has a huge factor on my workflow. It’s mainly about creating an environment that is comfortable for me. It is rare to be in a state of full comfort or inspiration so when you are in that mode you need to get as much on paper as possible. I love to brainstorm by myself. It’s easier for me to think about a project as a whole instead of different parts at a time.
What does the word “genesis” mean to you all? Why name the single that?
Pada: Genesis to me is a new beginning. The world was created in the book of genesis, and in a way we are creating a new world with this single
Buppy has a feature on this latest single, what is it like working with an artist outside of the immediate group?
SAI: It is interesting because I am so used to working with the artists in illusion hills so when I hear Buppy sing, or any artist that’s not in Illusion Hills, it gives me a look into how they work and how they go about recording. I can learn from what they do and even apply it to some of the things I do in my recording process.
Why was “genesis” your guys’ choice for your first single of 2022?
Kyle: At that time, that was our latest song we made that we really liked and we had all thought that it had good potential so we decided to make it our first single of 2022. Also to me this song means a lot because we are at the year of 2022 and we’re about to graduate and this song is about how we’re just kids and we just want to make the most of it.
What is coming next for Illusion Hills? (Salad)
Salad: We gonna be the greatest boyband on the planet, just give it time twin.
Stream “genesis” here: