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The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Underrated Artists: Revisiting ILLENIUM’s best music

Recent 2014-2015 remix releases kickstart a wave of nostalgia

I’ve been a fan of electronic producer ILLENIUM for almost a decade, but unfortunately, I feel more attached to his earlier music. With each new album, it seems his creativity lessens and each song appears to be a reach for virality rather than truly telling a story. However, ILLENIUM’s releases from last week finally impressed me — only because they were not actually new. 

ILLENIUM uploaded five incredibly nostalgic remixes to Spotify, two of which are still some of the best reworks I’ve ever come across. The first chords of his remix of Kaskade’s “Disarm You” immediately made my heart jump. The tune brought me back to 2015 when I first witnessed ILLENIUM’s melodic production, leading me to instantly fall into an electronic music rabbit hole that I never crawled out of.

Electronic producer ILLENIUM’s older music showed his true talent as a DJ, creating immersive and unique melodies that others still haven’t replicated. (Photo collage by Saira Ahmed)

I have seen controversy surrounding remixes, as some feel they cloud the vision of the original artist. However,  I always viewed remixes as a gateway to discovering other artists and genres while creating an even more introspective and innovative piece. ILLENIUM’s remix of ODESZA’s “Always This Late” did just that for me. 

My 11-year-old self was able to appreciate the artistry of ILLENIUM’s vision and interpretation of the mellower song, creating a more beautifully intense and heavier piece that made me feel like I could conquer anything. I then listened to ODESZA’s original and found a much different, more relaxing style of electronic music that I share the same love for. But, without ILLENIUM remixing it, I don’t think I would have had the same appreciation for ODESZA’s work. 

Coming back to this remix after years of leaving it in abandoned YouTube playlists was exhilarating. However, I couldn’t help but feel like the EDM community lost an important voice and vision as time progressed. None of ILLENIUM’s recent songs have hit the same level of thoughtfulness, anguish or euphoria that these older tracks and remixes did. 

When comparing his recent album, self-titled “ILLENIUM,” to the last album of his trilogy, there is a clear drop in creativity and a prioritization of a poppier sound. 2019’s “ASCEND” featured memorable tunes like “Gorgeous,” which has a more dubstep sound but changes to a symphonic synth-based piece once the second beat drop hits. Every beat hits just the right spot and creates a wave of indescribable emotion, seamlessly transitioning to a prelude and the album’s prettiest song, “Lonely.” Not a single track on his self-titled album is even a fraction of this melodic masterpiece. 

The other two albums of the trilogy, 2016’s “Ashes” and 2017’s “Awake,” are even more astonishing. “Ashes” has a dreamy feeling laced into every track, with “It’s All On U” and “Reverie” being my go-to anthems when I need to feel happy. “Awake” has some more intense songs like “Crawl Outta Love,” a release that was perfectly timed with my angsty teenage years. 

ILLENIUM’s voice as a DJ was very present throughout this trilogy. Every opening track, most notably “Needed You” from “Awake,” features a variety of unique melodies with synth riffs and drum patterns that no other producer can replicate. Every relisten reveals a new layer or tone I couldn’t pick up before,  highlighting the uniqueness of his previous songs compared to the recyclable formula I see in his current pieces. 

Regardless of his music now, ILLENIUM’s original production style will always be a part of me. I’ve had “Where’d U Go” and “Sleepwalker” blast through my speakers countless times, and seeing “ASCEND” live has been one of my most cherished memories. Knowing I could always come home and transport to another world with his older releases — that’s something I will always cherish. 

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About the Contributor
Saira Ahmed
Saira Ahmed, Managing Editor
It is senior Saira Ahmed's third (and final) year on The Epitaph, but she is still looking forward to writing about the same topics as she did two years ago: niche issues on campus, scathing album reviews and artistic profiles. She cannot wait to use what she learned from the paper in the real world, aspiring to be an environmental photographer and journalist. Outside of The Epitaph, Saira enjoys spending countless hours searching for new music and creating Pinterest boards.

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