Oct. 23 2013 02:00 PM

Dream-pop group books comeback show, finishing new album

Ilya: (top from left) Geoff Hill, Demetrius Antuna, Carrie Feller, (bottom from left) Matthew Baker, Bianca Fowler and John Mattos
Photo by Nicola Wilson

Ilya is coming out of hibernation. The local band, whose music combines elements of dream pop, shoegaze and trip-hop, has been on unofficial hiatus for more than four years, save for a one-off Halloween show at Bar Pink in 2011. But on Friday, Nov. 8, Ilya will officially restart their next phase with a show at Soda Bar, with Modern Rifles and Machines Learning opening.

In an interview at South Park's Whistle Stop Bar after a rehearsal session, the band explains that they never officially broke up.

"We just kind of went away for a little while," drummer Geoff Hill says. "Even our friends thought we were broken up."

"I don't know if anything got in the way" of the band playing together, keyboardist / guitarist Matthew Baker adds. "But life happens."

While the group was on hiatus, Hill kept busy performing with Manuok, Baker and guitarist Demetrius Antuña played together in KATA and singer Blanca Fowler had two children. About six weeks ago, however, the band—currently made up of original members Baker, Fowler, Hill and bassist John Mattos, as well as Antuña and new keyboardist Carrie Feller—picked up more or less where they left off.

"I think we all missed playing together. And we've been working on a record for a very, very long time," Hill says. "And it's always slowly progressing in chunks, but we finally got together and said, ‘We need to finish this record and start playing out again.'" 

The group intends to finish its third album, which was started back in 2007, though Feller says the direction is "heavier and darker."

"It's not so heavy that it's heavy," Antuña adds. "It's still Ilya." 

However, Fowler also notes that their new songs have more of a pop structure than their first two albums. "Not that they sound pop," she says, "but they're a little bit shorter, verse-chorus-verse and so on."

"If we would have made this album back in 2007, I really don't think it would be as good as it's going to be now," Baker says.

The new album, which doesn't yet have a title, is expected to be finished in 2014.

Correction: Last week's story about The Dirty Sirens identified Christine Huber as the primary songwriter in the band. All of the songs on their self-titled EP, with the exception of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain," were, in fact, co-written by Huber and singer Monterey Salka. I apologize for the error.

Email jefft@sdcitybeat.com or follow him at @1000TimesJeff


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