Gearing up for an extensive victory lap of all corners of our big brown land, Frankston's finest wordsmith Illy comes fresh from his first run of European shows.
As special guest of the Hilltop Hoods, the rapper born Al Murray was surprised at the diversity of the crowds he played to in Germany, Amsterdam and London last month.
"The shows were great and it was a really open crowd, a lot less Australians than I thought would be there at the shows," he says.
Expats would have been all the more homesick when Illy dropped his Triple J Australian Music Month mega-medley, which is now a staple in his live sets.
Late last year, the rapper orchestrated a monumental mash-up for the Like a Version series, combining the main parts of iconic songs by Silverchair, Hilltop Hoods, Paul Kelly and Flume, and adding a dash of Powderfinger to create a tribute to Australian music past and present.
With the track coming in at number 66 in the Hottest 100, the heartfelt mash-up resonated with a lot of listeners, just as Illy had hoped when he picked the songs.
"It's about the youth, storytelling, live music and what's happening right now, so that's why I chose those tracks," he recalls.
"Also, I wanted to choose songs that had distinct melody that you would hear and instantly know what songs they were."
He hints that it could have turned out a little differently, though. "Tomorrow and Nosebleed Section were always going to be the ones," he says. "As far as the throwback or storytelling song, there was Hunters and Collectors in there, but I think Paul Kelly worked out well with the pace and the variation, so I'm happy with the ones we chose."
With his most recent album, the gold status-achieving Cinematic, almost a year old, the emcee reveals that he has started work on his next album.
"I've spent the past two months overseas, a lot of the time in studios with new producers, so I've taken the first steps but it's still a long way off," he says. "I would like to have it out mid-next year but probably later next year is more realistic, I would say."
Illy’s Cinematic Tour hits Judds Hotel, Kalgoorlie, on August 13; Pier Hotel, Esperance, on August 14; Studio 146, Albany, on August 15; Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, on August 16; Players Bar, Mandurah, on August 17; North West Fest, Port Hedland on August 22; Leisure Inn, Rockingham, on August 23; and Bunbury’s Prince of Wales on August 24. Illy returns to WA for the One for the Cities national tour, which hits the Astor Theatre on November 28. Tickets through Oztix or Showticketing.