Colorado never fails to breed exciting talent in the bass music sphere. Nick Miller, or Illenium as his stage name goes, is the latest artist to emerge from the state’s thriving electronic scene. Having risen through the ranks of the digital realm, garnering millions of plays across SoundCloud and YouTube, Miller is now preparing to release his debut album, Ashes.
Four years ago, Miller was just another fan in the crowd. Everything changed, however, when he saw Bassnectar perform at Red Rocks in the summer of 2012. “When I saw him, I got Ableton the next day,” he says. From that point on, Miller devoted his time to perfecting his craft, eventually honing in on his overtly melodic bass music style. In the time since, Miller has gone on to remix the likes of Kaskade and Odesza, as well as perform at Red Rocks himself.
Miller’s new album Ashes finds him writing some of his most conceptual work to date: “It’s a story of rebirth,” he says. “About losing something and being down, and being able to find hope and light in tough places.” It’s a pervading theme for Miller — so much so that his logo even carries the symbol of the phoenix embedded in its text.
The first song on the album is “Reverie,” a delicate, lyric-driven piece which Billboard Dance is exclusively premiering. With its lush saw wave chords and catchy topline from Brooklyn singer King Deco, it’s an enchanting composition to say the least. Citing the formal definition of the song’s title, Miller says: “It’s like a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts, or like a daydream. That’s exactly what I want listeners to dive into on the first track.”
Ashes contains 10 tracks in total (12 on the bonus edition) and was written over the course of the last seven months. “I thought maybe I should push it and try to get more,” Miller says, “but at the end of the day, when I had these songs sitting there and I listened to them one after the other, these ones just flowed the best and had the most meaning for me.” Furthermore, every song on the album contains vocals in some form, whether sampled or recorded. “I love vocals,” Miller says.” “Seven Lions once said it’s the one instrument I can’t manipulate or do anything with. It adds an element that everyone can relate to.”
Miller has also used the album to explore new sides of his production. “I’m really excited for how many chill tracks are on it,” he says. “I kind of experimented with non-dance things, just like singer-songwriter stuff.”
It thus comes as no surprise that he’s teamed up with one of his closest allies for the release, and one of the biggest proponents of the chiller side of electronic music, Mr.SuicideSheep. The tastemaker platform, which has grown to nearly four million YouTube subscribers, has played a crucial role in Miller’s career. “They’ve supported my stuff since day one,” he says. “I just love what music they support and how passionate they are. They’re a label and a promotional network that is all about the music.”
Illenium’s debut album Ashes will be out on Monday, Feb. 15, as a joint release on Mr.SuicideSheep’s Seeking Blue Records and Miller’s new imprint, Kasaya. Aside from hitting digital retailers, it will also be available in limited quantity on 180 gram 45RPM vinyl.
Pre-order Ashes on iTunes here, and Bandcamp here.