Illicit Blends Punk-Rock With Songwriting Capabilities in Their Newest Releases

Illicit is a rock band from Kitchener, Ontario. The band was started by lead vocalist Jordan Cantwell and drummer/vocalist Fadi Khoshaba in February 2017. Guitarist Zak Taylor and bassist Dan Martin later joined the group after replying to an online ad. With the addition of third guitarist Jason Mcdonald, the 5-piece was able to establish their authentic sound. The rock collective Illicit has released 2 brand new singles this year that have garnered the group much attention across their hometown and beyond. “Summer’s Fleeting” and “Riptide” featured the musicality that the group is best known for, leaving their listeners headbanging all night long.

Fusing the better parts of their punk-rock approach with infectious melodies, stunning musicality, a contagious level of energy and a superbly detailed soundscape, their most recent singles rightfully showcases Illicit as the unstoppable force that they are. Currently, the 5-piece is hard at work in the studio preparing their next EP, set for release in the new year. In the meantime we highly recommend you check out “Summer’s Fleeting” and “Riptide”, as well as the music video for the title track of Illicit’s debut EP “Lost Days”. Stay tuned for more! Listen to Illicit’s new music here.

For those who aren’t aware, how did you first get into music production and composition, and how would you describe your approach to making original music?

Dan (Bassist): I first got into music as a kid when I was given a guitar for my birthday and began taking lessons. It wasn’t until I joined my first band that I was exposed to music production and fell in love with making original music and putting it out there. The approach we have to making original music is very much experimentation. Someone comes with a riff or melody they like and every one builds on to it making a full song

Zak (Lead Guitar): For me, it started back in high school. I had been playing guitar for a couple of years and wanted to start making music instead of just playing/learning other's songs. In every case, we would let each respective member create their own part. Jordan will create the framework of the song and the main guitar/vocal parts. He ends up recording and sending us a demo of the song. For leads, I try to write something that compliments the vocals.

Jordan (Lead Vocalist): I first got into music mostly from Guitar Hero and it was really the first time I was exposed to rock music. The songs and bands that I heard on Guitar Hero were the songs and bands that I would check out. My approach to creating original music is to take elements of all the different songs and styles I'm listening to and putting it together. Making it something of my own while still being influenced by the different artists. As long as the tune feels right, then that is all that matters.

Fadi (Drummer): Back in 2008, I was introduced to a video game called RockBand 2. As I am a huge nerd, I fell in love with the game. After 3 years of playing drums on expert difficulty, I entered high school and immediately signed up for 4 years of music class. My approach to making original music is to write and track drum parts to fit the song, not to show off my chops.

We're completely captivated yet again by “Summer’s Fleeting”, you all have such strong chemistry throughout your tracks. Can you tell us more about your intentions when you first began to curate this single?

Dan (Bassist): I feel like the intention with Summer’s Fleeting was to make a song that sounded so much bigger than any of our other songs. The bridge is so much slower so that the final chorus has a huge payoff and power.

Jordan (Lead Vocalist): There weren't any clear intentions with Summer's Fleeting from the get-go, however, the intentions became clearer during the recording process. This was a song that started from a riff I had in my head since high school, I showed it to everyone at practice one day and we just started riffing ideas back and forth. I wanted the lyrics to be a little more personal and honest than anything else we've written before it.

Fadi (Drummer): We took a different approach to writing Summer's Fleeting. We really wanted to feel out different avenues when it came to making the song sound big. Especially with vocals. Backing tracks, samples, lower octave melody over-top the main melody, attractive leads, etc. Summer's Fleeting was definitely a stepping stone for us song writing-wise.

We also thoroughly enjoyed “Riptide”! Where did you draw inspiration for this particular track and experimental new sound?

Dan (Bassist): The inspiration behind Riptide was to have more of a bouncy pop-punk kind of song. We don’t like

having one particular sound so this was to continue that trend.

Jordan (Lead Vocalist): For me, Riptide was inspired by two records. The last 'Paramore' record (After Laughter) and the most recent 'The Story So Far' record (Proper Dose). We wanted Riptide to be heavy but poppy, and I went with a different approach for the vocals. Just to keep it fresh.

We know that you're a lover of integrating a variety of elements in your music. Would you ever incorporate contrasting genres into your music, or do you think it would ruin the type of sound you're attempting to reach?

Dan (Bassist): I think our sound will organically change as time goes on. It might incorporate contrasting styles at some point, but it would be with our own twist to give it an “Illicit” sound. Music as a whole is very malleable which leaves a lot of room to adapt, change, and experiment.

Jordan (Lead Vocalist): Adding different types of elements to our music is something I love doing. The more and more I write, the more interested I am infusing different sounds and genres. I love it when I hear records that will keep me guessing until the very end. I also love hearing how different a band can sound from one record to another. It really helps you appreciate each record.

Fadi (Drummer): We have been in the studio recording out next E.P. and we have been messing around with more and more of that. Integrating different styles, different elements, and all-around different vibes to our songs. An example of what we've been messing around with is adding 808s in a song that could use a bit of a modern twist to songwriting in a 5-piece band. It's exciting, it's refreshing, and it's what keeps us itching to write more music.

What would you say inspires you and your music the most?

Dan (Bassist): What inspires us and our music the most is our individualism. We all have very different lives, but “Illicit” connects us and brings out the best in us. We bring our tastes, thoughts, and feelings to our music and put it out into the world.

Jordan (Lead Vocalist): I love exploring whats out there. Listening to different music from different bands. It's a great way to inspire you to write more music. It's because of that that I always kinda feel like I'm working on songs. When I'm not working on them physically, I'm playing them over in my head, arranging them. There's a lot going on up there.

It was great having you here on BuzzMusic! Tell us more about your upcoming EP! How long has this project been in the works?

Dan (Bassist): This E.P. is going to be something to really look forward to. It’s been almost a year in the making and we are loving the sound of it. It’s going to hit harder and pump you up more than anything else we’ve released yet.

Jordan (Lead Vocalist): As far as how long the E.P. has been in the works, its been a few months already. The recording sessions have been spread out due to playing shows in between and our lives outside of the band, but it's progressing. As we're almost 75% of the way done, we can confidently say the E.P. will be a lot more cohesive compared to the first one we released. This E.P. is going to have all different types of songs. Fast, slow, heavy, soft, poppy, chuggy, basically showcasing what we can do. It's going to be SICK!

Zak (Lead Guitarist): The EP has been in the works for a while now. It will have a similar sound to both Riptide and Summers Fleeting with surprisingly heavy songs and thrown into the mix as well. From all of us at ILLICIT, we really appreciate you taking the time to ask us these questions. We'd like to thank you for continuing to help us shed light on our music and our band, and we hope these questions exceeded your expectations.