In the moments leading up to the release of his self-titled fifth album, ILLENIUM is tackling a threat deeply personal to him.
The electronic music superstar is partnering with the nonprofit End Overdose, one of EDM.com‘s best industry leaders of 2022, on his upcoming tour to educate fans on how to spot signs of an overdose and administer the opiate overdose-reversing treatment Naloxone.
ILLENIUM, 32, suffered a heroin overdose in 2012. Having overcome the most difficult part of his battle, this is his call to arms to defend the community that rescued him.
“I think my story is different. I’m not a person that was just going to a festival and accidentally took the wrong drug. I was addicted to opiates,” ILLENIUM tells EDM.com over Zoom. “At the time of my overdose, I was using heroin intravenously and was at such a low point in my life. I had gone through so many different treatments and I had no sense of self. I didn’t really care about my life.”
“Coming out of that, being at such a bottom… I was so powerless at that point that I was willing to pretty much do whatever I could do,” he continues. “Spend my time with whoever I could. I didn’t want to lose my family. I wanted to love myself eventually. I wanted to care. Music did that for me massively. That’s why I started making music. That’s why I got so obsessed with electronic music.”
It was ILLENIUM’s deep dive into electronic dance music that gave him a new lease on life.
“Everything was so organic. It was so fun to see these artists come up and then see them live at shows. That just took over in my life and it was so awesome,” ILLENIUM says. “That transitioned to me making my own music and doing my own shows and having my own fanbase, and then being more public about my past issues and how I ended up here. Music being such an impactful part of my life, I think pretty much saved me from where I was.”
“That’s why I’m so passionate about it now because I think everyone should be given that opportunity,” he adds. “I think too many people are dying accidentally. I think even with addicts like myself, the drugs that are present now—you don’t really get a second chance. I was given second chances, luckily. But with fentanyl and sh**, it kills you so much faster. It’s super sad… At a certain point, it’s every person’s decision what they want to do with their life.”
ILLENIUM hosted an Instagram Live with End Overdose on Wednesday to shed light on the organization and teach fans how to administer Naloxone, which is prevalently sold under the brand name Narcan. He confirmed that his crew will have Naloxone on hand at shows.
“I have actually had to use [Naloxone] on myself when I overdosed and it saved my life,” ILLENIUM explains. “It’s a great thing that they provide. Anyone who wants it can order it for free. In a perfect society, everybody who went to a show, everybody who went to any sort of festival, if they all had Narcan—I have some in my backpack right now—it’s a thing that if you carry it around and you see someone who’s going potentially into an opiate overdose, you can save their life.”
ILLENIUM hopes to further stamp out preventive drug-related deaths through access to testing strips and other resources at shows. The Grammy-nominated producer says there are “legal struggles” with venues permitting testing strips but it’s a hurdle he hopes to navigate over time.
“A lot of people experiment with things and there’s nothing wrong with that,” he says. “Let’s just keep everyone safe. Why can’t we just do more to keep people safe?”
It’s a cause as personal to ILLENIUM as the self-titled album he released moments ago. He detailed why his fifth studio album is the one to bear his name.
“I was at a turning point really when my last album came out,” he recalls. “I was just really feeling like I wanted to do something different and I wanted to start from scratch, if that makes sense. A lot of times I’ll write two minutes of an instrumental and then send it to a vocalist and they’ll do their thing. With this one, I wanted to start from scratch. Go in and write songs that were like the song I used to listen to and love so much. I think that created this base canvas.”
“I feel like it allowed me to be a lot more flexible than in my past. When everything is electronic or sample-based, you can only get that stuff to sound so authentic versus when you get to literally work with legends. It’s really fun… I think that’s why it turned out to be self-titled because everything flowed really easily and it just felt like the end product. It’s a roller coaster ride, but I feel like so much of me is implemented in every song. It just feels very true to myself.”
Take a listen to ILLENIUM below and learn more about End Overdose here.