: Blue Jean Baby

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We recently spent a little time getting to know our favourite romantic in revolt, music maker and retro style babe, Iluka.

Name: ILUKA
Star sign: Virgo… though I fall on the cusp of Leo, which is the star sign I really relate to.
Hometown: Sydney, Australia


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Describe personality in 3 words:
Headstrong, idealistic, fiery!

Tell us what you do:
I write songs and I play music, as much as humanly possible.

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How and when did music begin for you?
From as early as I can remember. I was a cheeky, wild haired, eccentric 3 year old, and I would bang away at the piano usually dressed up with a wig and some outrageous clothes, creating these little nonsensical ditties that I would sing over and over again. Some of the hits included ‘Ball In A Hat’ and ‘Pants pant diddle diddle dump’. I was lucky to have grown up with a musical father so I was recording the songs I was writing with him by the time I was 7. Writing songs and playing music has always just been something I’ve done and have worked hard at.

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What kind of music did you grow up listening to around the house?
Mostly the stuff my Mum and Dad played me like Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, the Doobie Brothers, the Pretenders, The Byrds, Talking Heads, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Young, Donovan and Dusty Springfield.

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Do you have any role models?
Women like Stevie Nicks and Chrissie Hynde are some of the female artists I really look up to. Both women are in their sixties and still touring the world, rocking out and creating music that is relevant and wholly their own. When they began the music industry was such a man’s world (and to a degree it still is today) and yet they were unstoppable forces who fought all odds and rose to the top. I only hope that I can follow in their footsteps and create a career for myself that will last as long as theirs!

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You’re active in promoting women’s rights – and performed at the Women’s March in Sydney earlier this year. Do you feel it’s an exciting time for women right now? Can you feel a shift moving?
I think this is an extremely significant time we are living through right now. There is a shift happening and it is happening faster than I could have ever imagined. It’s interesting in history how certain events come to act as the catalyst for momentous change and we’ve seen that with the election of Trump, with the Weinstein cases and the consequent #metoo campaign, and the eruption of women speaking out against sexism and abuse. I think when it all began, for me in particular with the Women’s march on the day of Trump’s inauguration, everyone kind of thought it would all blow over pretty quickly, but the exact opposite has happened. I honestly never imagined I would be a part of such a social and cultural revolution that is happening right before our eyes!

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Do you think music can act as a tool for social change?​ And on this topic, tell me a little more about your single ‘Sympathy’.
Absolutely. I think music is an extremely powerful tool for social change. It can reach people on such an intimate and emotional level while also bringing us together. I believe as an artist it is our responsibility to reflect the times we find ourselves in and to be a voice for change. Given the current social and cultural climate it’s certainly a big part of my creative drive and I would say that ‘Sympathy’ in particular was born in the hope of fuelling the fire and calling more of the disenfranchised to action.

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You were also involved in the Women in Music Conference for Vivid Sydney. There’s a lot of talk about gender imbalance in the music industry right now. Do you feel steps can be taken to better support and nurture our female musicians?
Yes, absolutely. A lot of what the ‘Women in Music’ conference was about was bringing women together from all areas of the industry to share ideas and experiences. It was all about community building. It was such a wake up call to me, listening to so many experiences of sexism and underrepresentation, I really began to realise that we were all a part of a much larger problem in the industry. It’s a really exciting time though because communities of women all over the country (and the world) are forming to support one another, experiences are being shared and conversations are opening up around the gender imbalance and the often insidious sexism that permeates throughout our industry. What we must continue to do, particularly at a very individual level, is challenge our own conditioning that we may not have a place in the music industry. We must continue to lift each other up and propel the industry toward a true reflection of humanity.

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Do you have a philosophy?
 
Yes I do but it is constantly changing and evolving as life does. I think as humans we often seek finite answers, we seek something concrete or someone who will tell us how to live a good life, how to be a good person and institutions like religion feed off this need for finality. I think it’s bullshit. Not God or Jesus or Allah or Moses. Just the institutions that aim to sell us a ‘good life’, a comfortable life where we don’t have to question our existence. I think that questioning and exploration is the key to life. It gives us that potential for possibility, for imagination. We don’t know the answers, we don’t know where we will be, what is going to happen in our life and we never will. Life is just constantly unfolding before our eyes and I believe you just have to keep throwing yourself out into the unknown, out into the chaotic and turbulent ocean of life, with open arms. I guess my philosophy is to remain as much I can in this constant state of wonder and to keep seeking, evolving, expanding, and challenging everything. Particularly through my music.

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And lastly…Besides yourself of course, who should we be listening to right now?
The Lemon Twigs, King Krule, Jonathan Wilson, Kevin Morby, Lee Fields & the Expressions, Tobias Jesso Jr., Anderson .Paak, Vulfpeck and Thundercat just to name a few…

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Muse, Iluka Music
Clothing by Tree of Life
Photography by Britt Murphy