ILLENIUM Dreams Of Where Reality Meets Electric-Fantasy

ILLENIUM is one of the most affecting voices in popular music. As long as electronic music continues to draw out dance and expand upon Rock and Blues traditions, ILLENIUM will be in conversation.

And his music will move with mass taste, not against it, complementing the proper contours of its soul as an oar in the stream. That is a thing of craft.

Self-titled “ILLENIUM,” the fifth studio album from the tastemaker, is set to release on April 28. You can listen to the lead single Luv Me A Little featuring Nina Nesbit, here.

“ILLENIUM” is a concept album blending science fiction with fantasy. The world the art occupies is much as our own: full of addictions and illness, technologies and dependences. In his tale, ILLENIUM escapes dystopia to find love’s magic and sparks in the forest, but the pull of old habits and systems weighs heavy alongside his family’s tragedy.

In the tempest of new music, ILLENIUM will tour North America, Europe, and Australia.

His show, Trilogy: Colorado, at Empower Field in ILLENIUM’s hometown of Denver promises to be the biggest show of his fruitful career. And it has much to compete with on this tour alone: two nights at the Gorge Amphitheater, festival dates, and Vegas performances at OMNIA and TAO Beach Club.

Billboard Music Awards winner, and Grammy Nominated, ILLENIUM was inducted into the Forbes 30 Under 30 in the class of 2020. His songs have been streamed more than 7 billion times! He’s worked with Taylor Swift, the Chainsmokers, Tiësto, and Flume. He sold-out Madison Square Garden, the former STAPLES Center, and Red Rocks. Long before recent performances in Japan and hosting festivals in Colorado and Cancun, ILLENIUM saw the world, and he’s seen it change.

The disc jockey, our protagonist, in earlier life, escaped the closed jaws of a disease as deep as the troubles of human history. Though, it’s taken a modern American spin: addiction.

He speaks towards issues of addiction, addictive personality, technology, and modernity changing us, individually and globally. In this story, true-to-life anthropological reporting is blended with ILLENIUM’s interview with Forbes, outlandish fantasy, allegory, and hyper-saturated theme in the temperamental sands of literature.

Last December, on the plane home from his second Ember Shores festival in Cancun, ILLENIUM slipped into dreaming, hagridden by conditions formless as tomorrow’s storms, sizable as mystery.

He found his feet in a cold room. There was nothing to see by save the eerie lost light of a lost yesterday, still swimming against his space in strands, unable to find escape. It left a pale khaki around him and stretching outside without reason. His was an empty room, save himself. And it was set against the end of the long tube he walked. His was the only door open, save the doors of his mind which were opening and closing with the ferocity of mystery. The dream, in beginning, was still his playground despite its reflection of the transnational path.

Most of the words we build escape us into obscurity. And others follow us. Others still, follow others. ILLENIUM started to hear himself from an interview past. From speakers in the floor, his words played. Comments from online forums were sketched into the black wiry walls of the path ahead. He ignored that horror as best he could in favor of its lesser.

“If you have a secret,” ILLENIUM said over the recording, “it does bad things for you. It’s riding guilt. The only way to get rid of it is by coming clean, and that is the hardest thing to do. I’m lucky I don’t have to experience that. That kind of feeling, that kind of guilt is what drove me to use and do dumb sh**.”

“When they pile up, you’re lying about everything, random sh**,” he said. “It’s hard to keep track of, always feeling ashamed of not being able to be who you are. You know? It layers – covering up who you are and what you’re struggling with.”

“All of my character defects have pros too to their aspects, which is fu***ng weird. Having an addictive personality, if you act to the addiction level, it can be really unhealthy. I find it with social media. I love seeing people,” the recording went on. “I love giving people joy, and I get addicted to seeing that joy. But then it stops hitting as hard because you get a target on your back and you see all this negativity, but you can’t stop.”

The hallway was long and dark and thin. Single windows set in the crest of each door released uncomfortable light. Every original and cliché color took part in their temporary republic. Each hue announced itself with such prideful importance, that together they were often impossible to distinguish, a blinding white chorus. And when it hit the wall, the whole thing died. It did not bounce. Each string of the angel’s wing that is the heavenly gift of light did not make its usual second stride.

It was not alive like the light of the sun or the light someone gives themselves inside themselves in their moments of true grace or the light of a distant star – with the patience to travel millions of years for the chance to breath on us, life.

It was a wonder there was enough luster still left to leave the hallway its pale sepia-of-better-sorrows complexion.

“You know? You can’t stop. You just want to prove to everyone that you’re trying your best; you’re doing the best you can,” ILLENIUM said from the speakers. “Twitter makes me feel bad. They all do in different manors. It almost makes me mentally unstable. You know? It makes me not have confidence.”

There are some things you have to see only once, and some things you wish you only saw once. The dead light was the latter, the poster child of it.

The recording said, “sometimes when my fans were screwed over, I’m the only person that can really show that I’m fighting for them. I see all this other sh**, though. That part is just tough, dude.”

Tendril clouds of electricity brimming with pungent decay – shock, arousal, and shame – sizeable as school buses ambled by ILLENIUM through the bizarre hallway.

“You can escalate or deescalate situations with twenty to thirty people – whereas hundreds of thousands and all the time nonstop,” went the speakers, almost trembling.

“That is setting your self and psyche up for terrible, terrible sh**,” said ILLENIUM.

He noticed the clouds were multiplying, with different fervor and force each time they passed. Regret takes different and unforeseeable swings at confidences.

He passed by a room labeled “ILLENIUM’s inbox (Requests),” and where other doors only let the brilliant, dead light out at their windows, the luminous passion behind that door, the only labeled door, was stronger; and it seeped through the frame, the entire anxious perimeter like a wanted poster.

And some of the energy released, in failing to escape, seemed to burst into other forms of energy, namely sound and force, a constant popping and a low, terrible rumble.

He almost couldn’t hear the recording over its rabble, partially because the feeling of a ravenous want, an unanswerable agenda sent shivers through his steel.

“Some of it is amazing. And some of it is genuine care. Reddit and Twitter, there’s people that get a lot of satisfaction putting others down, to the core don’t believe in what I’m doing and do what they can to uproot it,” said ILLENIUM through the speakers.

“I was really young, but I was really a dishonest person,” the speakers went. “I wanted to have my family love me again. I had no dreams of being successful or having a career. I just wanted to not be disappointing everyone all the time. But you’re stuck in this loop, and it does not get better.”

“It started out as like, okay, this is fun, and it makes me feel good. And without it, you know, without it, I feel more on edge and more self-confidence issues. I felt not comfortable in my own skin,” said ILLENIUM’s memory, the recording. “I was not confident, and that gave me some self-esteem. It really worked. I had this personality too, right? When I started, especially with opiates, when I started taking opiates, I was immediately – I want this feeling every moment of every day. It was such a relief to numb myself out of the mental sh**.”

The record said, “and that’s the loop because it works at first. That’s the loop that you keep doing, the only thing I know that works. I got kicked out of my house, have no money, pretty much homeless in San Francisco. It’s Thanksgiving Day.”

“I don’t really believe in Jesus or Christianity and stuff like that. But I definitely believe in some sort of higher sh** helping me, ‘cause I would not be here without a miracle occurrence. There’s something greater going on,” said ILLENIUM. “I pray every night, short prayer. I believe in God, but it’s not organized religion. God saved my life. It helped my family forgive me for all the sh** I did.”

“I ask every night; I can’t do life by myself. And let me help people; and let me live my life and give people my experience and hope if they’re struggling,” he said. “Let me help others by my story or by music.”

“Let me help who could use it – in feelings amiss, their ruse to lift,” went a passing echo.

He picked up his pace.

Above ILLENIUM, the ceiling opened, becoming thick glass, warbly to look through and foggy. And he saw his fans, real people speaking and interacting in the real world at his festival. And he yelled and banged on the glass but could not get through by perception or force. He walked to see them and be nearer to them.

There was a white family of 6, all in tie-die t-shirts and matching corn-row haircuts, he realized quickly, for the Dispatch and O.A.R. music festival taking place next door at another luxury resort.

Their tie-die and corn-row symmetry, however whack, was an expression of one of love’s rare surface synchronicities. The family – mother, three daughters, and a son – almost brought ILLENIUM to tears with how vivid they were, how vigorous. The light that shined off of them could have been aloe vera for how it made his skin feel to the touch.

It was beautiful to be confronted in the hallway of what was feeling, increasingly, like a tomb of weaponized shame, an electric-fantasy. Reality was ugly, but irreality is a numb trap, fertile for regret. He walked away and towards the beachfront between the two luxury hotels of his festival.

“I want to hear you splash each other to this beat,” came over the pool above his prison.

ILLENIUM yelled out, but no one heard or saw him. And he kept moving.

“I just started raving,” said one woman. “I will celebrate like this the rest of my life. It’ll be my 89th birthday and I’ll be raving!”

“I love my job,” said one man on an international getaway with his girlfriend. “When I say I love my job, I mean I love her a**,” he finished, grabbing the aforementioned. They sparked a J and offered it to a stranger.

3 men wrestled on the beach, taking turns once one was pinned to substitute in the freshest of the bunch to the pleasure of two women who watched from a bed set on the coast. The referee snapped his towel at the competitors before being tackled into the sand. There was a couple in the water playing with each other. She was taller than him by two heads, and they wore matching pink bathing suits.

One man did pushups in the sand as a woman counted him off.

The beauty of it all against the cold feeling of his feet was enough to drive a tear to ILLENIUM’s dreaming eye.

“Do you have any test strips?” asked one woman in the hallway of the hotel. “The housekeeper threw ours away.”

There was a mother and daughter, one moving to Connecticut and one moving to Florida. “This is our goodbye festival,” they said. Mom said, “I f***ing love ILLENIUM.”

“I saw him 14 times this year,” said one man.

The artist watched his frustration, a seed of anger, turn into a small strand of lightning. It joined one the fog’s feeling tendrils. He watched his pity sizzle and burn at the fog, but it was far too large to take any sort of caution or step back. It rolled on.

“I believe in energy. I believe in collective consciousness, and this is a prime example,” said one woman spinning and gesturing to the crowd in festival.

She wore a 3D printed necklace of ILLENIUM’s symbol, the phoenix.

And she showed a raving novice a handshake denoting peace, love, unity, and respect. The student said it was a high mountaintop on the starry range of his festival experience. And the starlight was in his eyes, too.

ILLENIUM had heard enough. He found a spot under the glass near a sinewy looking group of young men taking shots, and he tried to escape. He employed his full force. He kicked. He screamed. He panicked. He clawed. The skin of his knuckles began to give way.

And he didn’t see any way, individually, out. His dream in full turned to a nightmare. He clawed and screamed for help. He ran in search of seams.

A surge of electric waves pushed him against the very back of the hallway. And the tempo of the popping light speeded up. He rolled and scrambled and splashed chest deep in the shocks and cuts of satin-thin currents, boisterous as bullhorns, and the brisking waves pushed him against the wall. And he didn’t see any way, individually, out.

It felt he had to get back. He had to return something. For the first time, he spoke in his dream – instead of listening to his own speaking, a mad mystery compounded by all things modern. ILLENIUM started to say, “I can’t do life by myself. And let me help people; and let me live my life and give people my experience and hope if they’re struggling, else another light might go out.”

He awoke as if violently pushed by a hundred winds in his bedroom.

You can follow ILLENIUM on Instagram, here, listen to his latest single “Worst Day” featuring MAX, here, and follow him on TikTok, here. Catch one of his shows, here.