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Premiere: Producer Ill-Esha Unveils Futuristic Sounds and Visuals in ‘Black Swan’

The Canadian artist is releasing her EP ‘Cryptowaves,’ which involved turning cryptocurrency graphs into synth wavetables

Anurag Tagat Nov 29, 2021

Canadian producer ill-esha. Photo: Michael Hystead

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It’s been just over a year since Asian-origin Canadian producer ill-esha aka Elysha Zaide dipped her toes into the decentralized world of crypto, blockchain, NFTs and everything in between. “It’s actually such an amazing place of equality where I’m not getting judged,” the Vancouver-born, Denver-based artist says over a call.

Active since the late Nineties in the electronic music world, ill-esha has traversed everything from glimmering keytar-infused tunes to drum and bass, plus EDM. Her latest EP Cryptowaves injects all that into the mix, plus an intriguing connection to the crypto world itself. When she was first introduced to the world of cryptocurrencies, she looked at the performance graphs of each token on a dashboard. “I said, ‘This looks like a waveform,” ill-esha says.

The artist also connected dots on a larger, perhaps philosophical scale. “The more I started to learn about finance, the more I realized that it’s in a way just as emotional and dramatic as music and art are, because the way the charts move up and down are reflecting people’s fear, people’s greed… you see all these terms in the world [of finance],” she says. It formed the thematic outline for the lyrics on songs off Cryptowaves and you can hear (and visually understand) the connections in the music video for ill-esha’s song “Black Swan.”

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Starting off with more esoteric, skittering beats, ill-esha’s pop-inflected vocals come in only around the two-minute mark, narrating a metaphor-heavy story that seemingly ties into the world of decentralized finance. She adds, “In every song, there are a lot of different terms embedded in the storyline and all sounds are made from cryptocurrency graphs.”

As for the four-track record itself, it’s being sold exclusively as an NFT collection and will be available to stream only via blockchain-activated platform Audius for six months. Meanwhile, the spacey, intergalactic music video is streaming via YouTube in high-definition, but will be sold in 4K quality to a single bidder of an NFT. She adds, “I’m trying to build my own economy of fans, supporters and collaborators around me that can actually invest in the project and get a piece of it.”

The video for “Black Swan” comes on the back of ill-esha’s involvement in cutting-edge electronic label Ninja Tune’s charity compilation @0, with her track “Sonata of Solitude.” With Ninja Tune co-founder Matt Black, ill-esha is also part of International Live Beat Challenge, a forthcoming competition centered around electronic performances.

Watch the video for “Black Swan” below. Get ‘Cryptowaves EP’ as an NFT here.

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