Illenium‘s nomination for best dance/electronic album (Fallen Embers) isn’t just a big deal for him, but for the genre of music he helped pioneer. The producer’s first nomination marks the soaring, bombastic future bass genre’s foray into the awards and also puts him amongst a group of first-time nominees including Major Lazer, Marshmello and Black Coffee, whose music has been setting trends in the dance world and beyond for years.
Coming off a huge closing set at Ultra Music Festival in Miami last weekend, the artist born Nick Miller will make Grammy history if he wins Sunday in Las Vegas. “I’m not sure what set this one apart,” Illenium tells Billboard of his nominated album, “but I’m really happy that it stood out for them.”
Where and when was Fallen Embers made?
I made Fallen Embers in the middle of the pandemic. Almost all of it was made at my home studio in Denver, Colorado. I did most of the collaborations with people online on Zoom.
How long did it take you to complete it?
I worked on it for around a year, from start to finish.
What non-album collaborator did you first play it for, and what was their reaction?
I tend to show a lot of people stuff I’m working on throughout the whole process. I really like to get feedback from as many of my friends and family as possible, to know if I’m heading in the right direction. I don’t know if there was anyone that I just showed the whole album to and they hadn’t already heard any of it.
Did you know the album was special, or a “hit”?
It definitely felt like a different kind of album for me. I was holed up at home for almost the entire creation, so I think the music reflects that. Usually I have the ability to play the songs out live, and it really influences the way I produce the songs. So I definitely think it’s special, because I’m not normally in that mindset, and the world was just in such a weird place when I made it.
Why do you think the album appealed to Grammy voters?
I was surprised when I got the news. I was really excited and couldn’t believe it. I’m not sure what set this one apart, but I’m really happy that it stood out for them.
What were you doing when you found out you were nominated?
I just woke up and saw all the texts and mentions online. It was a really exciting day for me.
The collection of albums nominated this year is really sonically diverse, from house to future bass to bass and beyond. What’s your take on disparate styles of dance music competing against each other in the same category?
I would really hope that they start to expand the categories of dance music. There are so many different genres so I know that it can be hard to make an award for everything. But I think certain styles end up dominating the category and would make more sense if there were a couple more options for people to fit in to.
What’s the best Grammy afterparty you’ve been to?
I haven’t been to any.
Are you going to Vegas for the show? Do you think the city’s standing as a dance music hub will in any way influence the Grammys this year?
Yes, I’ll definitely be going. I think it could affect the ambiance, as Las Vegas is a pretty crazy city.
If you win, how will you celebrate?
I’d be super excited to win. I’d take a day to thank everyone that has been a part of my career and got it to this point and try to use that success as a way to keep moving the project forward.