INTERVIEW: Ilima Considine as the Sexbots on SXSW, Summertime, and More Two weeks after the 2017 installment of South by Southwest closed its doors, it’s still the post-recovery (and/or hangover) period for festival attendees. Since its founding in 1987, this Austin, Texas-based festival has grown from a small new music festival to one of the largest and most influential film, music, and technology festivals in the world. Like Burning ManCoachella, and a host of other festivals, it has also become legendary for its party scene and the skyrocketing costs of both attending and participating. This tremendous growth has many ramifications for the city of Austin, its residents, and its visitors, who must weigh the growing costs with the opportunities presented. One consequence of the current immigration climate appears to have been an increasing crackdown in visa enforcement, with several performing groups being denied entry into the United States. Another consequence of the festival’s upfront costs: a 2015 New York Times feature pegged the average cost of performing for a trio of performers in an official showcase at $10,000. Attending is cheaper, but only relatively so: a jaw-dropping $1,650 at the door for a Platinum Badge if you want to see a bit of everything. As with the intertwined formation of the Edinburgh Theatre Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, SXSW’s costs have spawned a large number of unofficial performances and showcases coinciding with the festival. The Twin Cities Arts Reader spoke with multidisciplinary artist Ilima Considine of The Sexbots about performing at South by Southwest, touring, physical vs. Internet-based distribution, and more. The album cover for The Sexbots’ The Girlfriend Experience. You recently performed at South by Southwest. This is a festival that has grown tremendously in the 30 years since its formation, and where the participation costs have escalated tremendously as well – both for official acts, and for unofficial performances coinciding with the festival. Why did you perform, and what were some of the high and low points? I performed at unofficial showcases that did not require badges of either the attendees or the musicians.  I’m a bit late at joining into the SXSW fray, but I wanted to witness it firsthand at least once.  It’s definitely a zoo – a weeklong party that gets shut down every night by horse cops.  It’s like Vegas…you have to see it for yourself or be [left] forever curious. Now that I know [what it’s like], I don’t feel like I need to do it again.  Even for those who are there on sponsored stages, I feel like their efforts onstage were getting lost in the relentless party atmosphere. High points were every time I bumped into someone on the street whom I had met in another city there.  Low points were being stalked and the venue allowing my stalker to enter.  I hid in the women’s bathroom until they got tired of waiting for me.  During a later act, a young woman came and stood next to me.  She said, “I’m going to stand next to you because you’re the only other girl here.  I know this is a safe space (next to you).”  I smiled, but it gave me chills. Some acts fly right in for South by Southwest, while others make it part of a road tour. I understand that you picked the latter option – what were some of the stops along the way? How do you break up the performing and driving with other activities? We stopped and played shows in Boise, ID and Logan, UT, then filmed a music video in the desert.  We also stopped to help out a couple stranded motorists in the middle of the Texas desert – I had AAA and was able to call for help, but had to wait to show them my membership card. There were [also] a couple cigarette smokers in our party, so there were a lot of smoke breaks at truck stops in small towns. Tell me about the genesis of the latest album from The Sexbots. How did you first conceive of The Girlfriend Experience? What sort of links or thematic connections are there between the songs? Lum (right) from Urusei Yatsura – one of the archetypical hypersexual, big-eyed girlfriends of 1980s anime. The Girlfriend Experience is a loaded term – it’s code in the sex industry for hanging out with the customer and not just screwing and leaving. [Editor’s note: The Starz television series of the same namefollows this same double meaning.] Most of my album titles have double meanings and this is another one. It had become increasingly clear over the past year that there were strangers all over the world who had a concept of me as a fantasy anime girlfriend – big-eyed and hypersexual.  Half of this album is about that imaginary version of me.  Half is about what my actual boyfriend experiences – my OCD and my anxiety disorder.  Together, these are both The Girlfriend Experience.  These themes and the title were already in place when I started writing the album. The song “Summertime” on The Girlfriend Experience juxtaposes a lively summer song genre vibe and beat with an unexpected subject. How did you arrive at this combination? My friend Devast killed himself at the beginning of summer.  A week later, I was reading about serial killers on Wikipedia at bedtime and got too scared to go to sleep.  I thought, if I can’t sleep, I might as well start working on those songs.  This [result] was the first song I wrote of The Girlfriend Experience. The rise of digital distribution in all its forms – electronic downloads, streaming, viral videos, etc. – is perhaps the most significant and ongoing development for musicians in the last 15 years, going hand-in-hand with the emergence of social media.  You have a fanbase all over the world – how do digital downloads compare with physical album sales? How do you strategize about which channels to use for different projects? Moneywise, I make more selling physical albums on the road.  Digital sales tend to be a song here, a song there – with the digital distributor taking about a third.  Spotify sends me the odd check, but it’s literally thousandths of a penny per play.  I’ve had things go not internationally viral, but viral on a local level – but it’s not something you can plan on and it doesn’t necessarily translate to song sales, although it can help with booking and promoting shows. I’ve got an emotional, time, and money budget to distribute. I can’t just run international campaigns like Lady Gaga, so it comes down to making the kind of art as close to my vision as possible…whether that is releasing something with more of a visual component, or not. Releasing vinyl was a long-held dream, and when I was going over the budget and considering a digital-only release to cut costs, I felt cut in my heart. I had always envisioned these songs being listened to in a particular way – placing the needle on the record, then lying down on the floor in front of the speakers – and I wanted to make that possible for as many people as I could.  I felt very fortunate that my fan base supported this vision.  We raised the money in one month on Kickstarter and the records will be in my hands by summer. One of the downsides of the rise of social media is the harassment and other inappropriate communication that sometimes results, especially with women in the creative fields. This is unfortunately quite prevalent, and has risen as Internet access has reached the far corners of the globe. Do you think that there is a new netiquette that will develop where more people self-moderate, or is this the new normal?  It is the new normal, but it shouldn’t be.  It has also increased the severity of street harassment because men get practice saying horrible things while other invisible men pat them on the back – it doesn’t feel new or awkward to them when they are out in public since they have been practicing in private and developing their hate vocabularies extensively. You can’t change people’s hearts, but you can change their behavior with stiff legislation that is ruthlessly enforced.  This is why we need to have as many women judges and legislators as possible.  If you don’t vote, VOTE. You have a lot of fun on-the-road stories. Will you share one or two? A promotional photo for the album Uh Oh Dear. Photo by Toma Amendolara. I was filming a music video at the ruins of a mansion in the woods of New Hampshire and the cameraman went behind a tree to pee.  I was standing there, pale and shivering in a white nightgown(holding the camera bag) and some hikers came out of the woods, froze, and asked, “Are you real?”  They thought that I was a ghost. It is a little silly, but I like to be picked up at the airport by someone who has a sign with my name on it.  Any tour that starts this way is the best tour. I was robbed in Cologne on my first European tour.  The audience bought enough T-shirts that I could buy a bus ticket to the Consulate in Hamburg and gave me phone numbers of distant relatives in case I couldn’t find a place to sleep.  The next morning, strangers comforted me when the train was late and I was becoming visibly distraught.  The lady at the consulate gave me a ride to the station after issuing me an emergency passport- where I watched my bus crash into another bus.  When I finally arrived in Berlin, there was a bomb scare but a stranger took me in simply because I was a friend of a friend (one of the bartenders I used to manage while catering used to date someone she was friends with while doing an internship abroad on the East Coast…). Tour is always an adventure, but it’s a good story, and German people take care of you really well. What’s up next for The Sexbots?  I’m going to make music videos for each song on The Berlin Stories/The Book of Daniel and I’m going to sell out this record this year.  Also, Utah’s been calling for me to return and I think I will answer that call.  ”

Twin Cities Arts Reader

With a name like The Sexbots, one might likely imagine that the music and message contained in their work would be explicitly provocative. And yet the sole member of The Sexbots (Ilima Considine) has managed to create a discourse about sexuality that plays with those taboos in ways that both embraces and questions the role of sex in this day and age. Ilima started work on The Sexbots project back in the late 2000s as a more rigid musical outlet in contrast to her shifting work as a chorus singer for various hip-hop and electronic artists, and after her original band Childhood Friends, in which Ilima played cello and violin. “It’s a Blade Runner reference although the term is not used either in the move or the novella, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It was because I hadn’t had a boyfriend in three years, but everyone was treating me like a sex bomb at shows,” Ilima explained.   “Like the replicants, I could look the part and fake it, but once you started asking questions, it was clear that I was clueless and didn’t know what was really going on.” It started off as a duo, Ilima emerged as the central member of the group and in opposite of before, flipping roles from working on others’ projects, to having others provide work for The Sexbots. Ilima has worked with various producers G-Space, DJ Ceez, Stereospread, Air Fortress, Natural 20, and many others. This ever-changing cast of musicians keeps every album distinct in music, while cohesively united by Ilima’s amorphous, yet unmistakable voice. While her other bands have ranged from experimental rock, to indie, to electronic – and even doing neoclassical music for modern dance companies like Keyon Gaskin and the PDX Dance Collective – The Sexbots sound as Ilima begrudgingly shorthands like “Asian Mom Björk meets Portishead.” Begrudging in the sense that they are very common references made by music publications, and not at all because they aren’t partially inspirations. “I don’t try to sound like any of the bands… When I was younger I listened to all kinds of music… Morrissey really taught me a lot about songwriting. But I try to do my own thing and just try to stay emotionally true to myself.” And just by listening to The Sexbots you can hear the difference. Ilima runs the gamut from soft spoken word, to effervescent cooing and singing, and everything in between. All on top of a range of instrumentals drawing inspiration from EDM, avant-garde music, trip-hop, and sometimes even indietronica. It’s a combinations that both comforts and unnerves the listener in the best ways possible. Comforting because a lot of The Sexbots’ work involved grooves and danceable beats, but underneath lies often conflicting messages. On her recent album The Girlfriend Experience, Ilima emits several variations of her real self; some being a hyper-sexualized parody of how people online view female-bodied individuals, others a reflection of the more anxious and interpersonal side. Sometimes these ideas pop up on the same songs like the single “Summertime.” This track actually proved to be quite controversial in several ways. Firstly in its juxtaposition of a time we normally associate with happiness hinted at by the chorus and title of the track, but when listening deeper you notice the lyrics are about a friend who committed suicide and Ilima trying to mentally deal with it. Secondly because of the video included with the song, which depicts an almost voyeuristic beach excursion that evolves into a very intimate moment near the end. Ilima does music videos for nearly every song under The Sexbots name, many including artistic displays of nudity and sexuality in many forms. “I was really surprised at the backlash that the video got,” she stated. “It wasn’t half as sexually explicit as what you’d see in the mainstream anyways…” And in no way is it nearly as objectifying as mainstream music videos. In fact Ilima is using the human body not to catch the attention of the male gaze, but to create a dialog about sexual identity and orientation. Many of the videos on The Sexbots’ YouTube page display performance art style videography with explicit oppositions to the ideas of gender norms, and provide a lot of ambiguity about characters in the videos’ sexualities and desires. Overall the message that Ilima hopes to spread is positivity. Not only within our bodies, but also within our communities. Ever since an eye-opening and unpleasant experience with a specific band member from a bill that Ilima was on, she has strived to make every show The Sexbots plays a LGBT+ safe space zone, and wants the audience to feel comfortable and accepted. See The Sexbots live, which includes fantastic backup dancing and a performance by experimental hip-hop artist Worshiprr, at Rumors Cabaret on July 9 at 9 p.m. For more about the group, see Published in the July 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine” - Keenan Ketzner

What's Up Magazine

If you are looking to ring in your new year on a completely surreal and darkly sensual note, you might consider spending the night with The Sexbots, an experimental electronica project conceived and executed by Portland-based artist Ilima Considine. Underscored by an alien soundscape that is a carnival of interstellar blips and algorithmic bleeps, Considine’s vulnerable tenor — wavering between the writhing shit-fits of Bjork and the erotic pleadings of PJ Harvey — takes on nervy themes of sexuality and emotional displacement. The Sexbots make pornographic sounds for the space age, and Considine is the outfit’s hot-and-bothered emcee, singing songs about desire and erotic obsession. The Sexbots play with the Elena Leona Project and Stephen Rose 9pm Wednesday, Dec. 31, at The Granary; $8.” - Eugene Weekly

Eugene Weekly

The avant-garde-synth US project The Sexbots are planning to release the LP The Girlfriend Experience later this year. The Sexbots From the album – Summertime is one of The Sexbots more accessible tracks featured over the past two years, with its almost linear progression. That doesn’t mean there are not eddies to explore, as the instantly recognisable voice of Ilima tugs on the ears, accompanied by a melange of synthetic swatches.” - Tim

Emerging Indie Bands

Basically, Portland, Oregon based trans-disciplinary artist Ilima Considine IS The Sexbots, with a little instrumental help from DJ Ceez, Qmulus and Stereospread here, and 'Junk Sick' is The Sexbots 3rd album to date. (Junk Sick is a term for the vomiting that accompanies heroin withdrawal.) Ilima is a classically trained violinist and cellist but you won't get any of that here. What you WILL get is an aural feast for retro-art-pop synthpop enthusiasts, with Considine cooing, moaning, and sometimes even orgasming in her Asian little girl voice over Nintendo/Casio style electronics and beats that will make you stop dead in your tracks and say 'WHAT is this? WHO is this? Where did this COME from?' That's how it struck my jaded ears. In 'The Only Thing' little bleeps and burbles, synth pulses and electronic swirls float around her breathy child-like vocals. More muscular synths and beats are the backdrop for Ilima's emoting in 'My Job is To Make Love to Strangers'. This is sythpop like you've never heard before- raw, emotional, sexual, personal and riveting. The pace slows down with 'Magic Eyes' as Ilima coos her lyrics backed by what sounds like a chorus of softly meowing oriental kitties. The cats come out yowling in 'Sickness'; the first real clue that this album came about through a rough relationship breakup. 'Boy/Girl' explores playful androgynous sexuality. 'Every Soul' is tragic, emotionally wrought tale of a friend's drug overdose. If that one seemed emotionally wrought, 'Try Me' is even more intense. 'Water Under the Burning Bridge' is a mix of sweet innocence and lovelorn regret; basically sort of a bittersweet love song. I didn't even mind the (brief) male vocals in it. 'Petting a Cat' is just too cute in its metaphorical sexuality. 'You Get a Taste' sounds like an Asian children's march with more of Ilima's boudoir vocalizing. 'Willy on Willy' seems like an attempt to exorcise the ghost of a lost lover, recalling 'Sickness' to some extent. Vocally, comparisons of Ilima to Bjork are inevitable, but really, there's only a slight resemblance in style, but a perhaps a larger one in emotional input. Bjork's voice is robust and her range covers about three octaves. Ilima's voice on the other hand has a much more fragile quality to it. No doubt though her 'Sexbot' style is somewhat unique. It not only conjures hentai fantasies in which you get to play voyeur, but also speaks to a deeper emotional level. Live and on video however, I don't believe Ilima's visual performance is anywhere near par of her musical prowess. Given time and money (buy the damn album already, it's well worth it), she may synthesize and synergize them both. In any case, it will be interesting to see what The Sexbots come up with next.” - Steve Mecca

Chain D.L.K.

Ilima Considine is the vocalist of the Sexbots, a singer/beatmaker collaboration with an intense, dance charged, performance art live show. She will bring her unique sound and style from Portland, Oregon to Japan for an 8 concert tour. These will include a 2/13 show at Anga’s Long Live Rock event and a 2/15 show at Toppers. Tom Melesky was able to wrest her away from promotion and travel plans long enough for this short email interview. Tom Melesky: This will be your first time performing in Japan. How would you describe a Ilima Considine/Sexbots experience to an uninitiated fan? Ilima Considine: It’s emotionally intense and a bit artsy-fartsy. I believe that a show needs to be more than just listening, so that people have a reason to leave the house. It’s all about emotional projection. I also dance and bounce around a lot. T.M.:Will this tour be your first time performing outside of North America? I.C.:Um… yes. I had to think about that a little bit. I managed not to perform in London and it drove me nuts. Couldn’t stand going to shows and not being part of them. T.M.:The Sexbots are unsigned so all projects must be self-funded. What motivated you to organize a potentially expensive tour in another country as opposed to another region of the USA? And why Japan? I.C.:I’ve been wanting to go to Japan, both for myself and for the music, for a long time. My brothers and sisters and I were all raised on anime and manga. I’ve sewed several Totoro quilts for important family occasions(marriage, new baby, off to college), but it was something that kept getting put off both because of the children and the expense. A few months ago, things seemed to line up in that several people offered to help me if I decided to go, and even knowing not to count 100% on those offers, and I decided it was time to do it. The moment I decided was at my Japanese friend Junko’s house. She was having a birthday party for her dog. She’s lived in America for a long time but she said to me, I have friends who will help you and I think they will love you. Junko is someone I admire and adore, and her saying it, after the other people had offered, made me decide to make it happen. T.M.:Is there anything you’re nervous about in Japan? Anything you’re really looking forward to? I.C.:I’m looking forward to the people watching and the fresh perspective on the world, the different opinions people will have about my music. I’m nervous about how much I will miss my children and the man I’m in love with. I also have severe food allergies. The tour budget is pretty slim and I can’t eat wheat, milk, soy, nuts, or heavily processed foods without becoming severely ill. I’m expecting to come back pretty thin. Also, it’s a girl thing, but Japanese girls are known for being so tiny! I’m going to be like Scarlett Johansson over there. T.M.:You originally moved to Portland, Oregon with the intention of being a painter. What turned you to music as your main focus? I.C.:I was having a moment where I was dissatisfied with my art career, out of work, and broken up with someone I was in love with. I was ready to change my life when I went to an early PDX Pop Festival simply because it was free and all ages, so I could take my 3-year old daughter with me. I saw a band called We’re from Japan! and was incredibly inspired, not just by their sound, but by the fact that they all looked like they worked at gas stations. I’d always thought that I wasn’t cool enough to be in a band, plus I didn’t play guitar and I didn’t know any bands that had violin in them. I thought no one would ever want me in their band. I saw these scrubs and realized that if they could do it, I could do it. I went out and bought a bass and slowly, being in bands took over my life. T.M.:I’ve read that you’re trained in both violin and cello and do session work. Do you find that or performing as a singer onstage more appealing? I.C.:There are definitely times when I have been doing instrument session work when I have felt like a whore. I have never had that feeling as a vocalist, even during session work. T.M.:How do you choose/refuse a DJ/beatmaker to collaborate with? I.C.:If I don’t like the beat, I don’t use it- regardless if it’s someone I’ve worked with before or not. What I choose to work with has both to do with an emotional feeling and whether there is space in the track for my voice- it can not be too busy. T.M.:In the 3+ year Sexbots history, what would you consider to be the highlight? I.C.:Anytime I can get the entire crowd dancing at my shows. Someone walking up to me at my day job, in complete disbelief that I still had a day job. They were like, “I think I recognize you. You’re working? Why is someone like you doing this kind of work? Aren’t you just you?” Either that or screaming in the car when my song came on the radio. My kids thought we were going to have an accident. I was screaming, “It’s not my CD! Look! It’s the radio!” T.M.:What is the most flattering description or comparison of your sound that you’ve heard by a critic? Is your singing ever compared to Björk’s work? I.C.:I’m constantly compared to Bjork and I think it’s very sweet of people to do so. I don’t sound like her, but I think people mean that I have a high voice with a unique delivery, inimitable, and more naturally sensual than sexual as a commodity. I think that’s pretty spot-on. The record review I liked best, was one that said it was difficult to listen to, in an emotional way. And I was like, yes! It’s difficult for me to listen to that record, too! Someone who doesn’t know me listened and understood! I know that I don’t make easy listening music. I sing a lot about doubt and fear and sexual frustration. T.M.:In your third album, Junk Sick, 8 of the 11 songs are inspired by a recent break-up. Do you find singing and songwriting therapeutic when this occurs? Do you take consolation in the fact that this time can provide inspiration for creating music? I.C.:Making music the only way that I know how to deal with heartbreak- to take all that terrible energy and get it out. The album is not about our breakup, but about how scary being together was. He broke up with me in between finishing the album and releasing it. And when it happened, I was not doing okay at all, and all my friends said the same thing to me- “This is going to make your next album so good!” And I had to laugh through my tears every time this was said to me, and believe me, there was much crying going on. I could not deny it, either. He wouldn’t talk to me and so the first thing I did was tell everyone that we were starting the new album(this was about a week after the album release) and that it would be done by April. When we first kissed, my musical brother DJ Ceez said that my next album was going to be about him(this one ended being Junk Sick). My next 5 albums are going to be about him. Minimum. I am going to love this man a long time.  ” - Tom Melesky


If you ran in to Ilima Considine at the grocery store, you might not recognize this petite mom of two as the dynamic force behind The Sexbots, a provocative experimental electronic/art pop act based in Portland, Oregon.  The Sexbots have a strong performance art component and never shy away from issues of sexuality and relationships.  Ilima provides vocals, songwriting and all around art direction while guest beatmakers like DJ Ceez and Qmulus contribute to the music production.Ilima says "In some ways I'm a desperate housewife.  I have these two kids, and I have to sneak away to do this.  I spend most of my time at home in an apron, trying to take care of these kids."  This may be hard to believe if your experience of Ilima is the persona she portrays as the front woman of The Sexbots, who is a confidently sexual though sometimes androgynous woman with a vaguely exotic ethnicity, which belies her Irish/Chinese heritage.  Yet in speaking to Ilima about the release of The Sexbots new album, Junk Sick, I found her to be disarmingly soft spoken and genuine.  A track from Junk Sick, "The Only Thing," made Knix Picks for Best New Tracks in October, so I was curious to learn more about the maestro behind the music.On becoming The Sexbots:Ilima originally comes from a conservative Catholic family, the second oldest of 11 kids.  Before moving to San Diego from Massachusetts at age 15, she attended Catholic school and worked in a library as a teen.  A self-described sheltered child, she was "going to do what I was supposed to do, which is like work 80 hours a week, and retire early and then paint in your dotage."  Ilima says she decided to become a visual artist when she decided not to go to law school.  "On the morning of the LSAT, I decided I couldn't do it.  I couldn't follow that life track."When she first moved to Portland, Oregon at age 19, Ilima was doing installations with a performance component to them.  Then she started playing in bands which "took over her life.  I still have elements of being a visual artist and thinking of my body that way, so that never went away."  Classically trained as a violinist, Ilima says she wanted to play in bands for years but didn't because "I didn't know anyone in bands and those are people on TV, and how can anyone end up like that?"Ilima describes going to an all ages festival because she could take her then three year old daughter and seeing a band called We're From Japan.  "They were amazing.  They all looked like they worked at a gas station, and I realized if they could do it, if they can make those sounds, then I could do it too, and I went out and bought a bass and that was that.  I've been in bands ever since."  Ilima says, "Electronic music was something I'd stayed away from for years because people in Portland have this kind of indie snobbishness.  I kind of got ambushed into it, but it felt very natural when it happened." After a band breakup, Ilima says "People started approaching me and saying I want you to sing for me, but I can't be in a band.  I was like, well, there are enough of you guys that instead of having ten bands that never play shows and never go anywhere, if you're willing to let me call it by the same name, and I'll do everything else, I think we can do this.  And that's how it became The Sexbots."  Some of the people she collaborates with, she has never met.  Ilima says they are E-mail pen pals, sending MP3's back and forth until it becomes a song.  "The miracle of the Internet is I can work with anyone on the planet and make beautiful music.  Weird connections end up being some really long lasting friendships and musical collaborations."On low budget music videos:Out of all of The Sexbots music videos, Ilima has directed all but two or three herself on a minimal budget.  She says the most she ever spent was $100 for the first video and that was for vodka for all the extras.  Besides that video, she's never spent more than $10, including parking.  She says making videos is "like making dinner.  You see what's in the cupboards, and then you use it.  Half the time it's like, 'Well, we have all these stuffed tigers lying around.'"  Which is why you see her children's stuffed tigers featured in one video, and you can often see her kids running around in the background.On having kids and being a performer:"I won't say it's easy.  It's not easy.  Sometimes it's very hard.  I couldn't give up either of them, and if I wasn't doing music, I'd be a discontented and grumpy mother.  I wouldn't be much good to my kids.  Portland is a great place where you see other women who aren't letting age or kids slow them down.  I look at them and think 'Gosh, I'm an underachiever.  Why am I not living like these women?'  I wanted to play in bands for years, and I didn't.  Portland is just an amazing place to be in, and seeing other people and realizing the possibilities."  In support of her work, Ilima has received grants from both the Oregon Arts Commission and the Regional Arts and Culture Council.On describing The Sexbots as art pop:Ilima herself is described as a trans-disciplinary artist, but the term art pop to describe The Sexbots "is actually a term I started using as of this album."  There is a strong electronic element to her music, but Ilima feels that "electronica is a wastebasket that can encompass anything from Kraftwerk to Lady Gaga.  It's not a useful term.  The Sexbots would get booked for electronic music festivals but electronic dance music is not really what we are.  Indie labels would say we were too electronic.  I was trying to market us as song and dance music, but the whole time we were really like we're artsy fartsy depressing, but we have cool beats.  I came out of denial that we are artsy fartsy, and that's never going to go away even though it's completely uncool in Portland to make pop.  We're art pop.  It is what it is.  I sing about relationships and domesticity and the way you get torn when you've been with someone a long time and have a crazy history."On the name The Sexbots:Ilima says she wanted a name that implies that it's electronic and sexy.  "Sexbots is a Blade Runner reference even though it's not a term used in the movie or the novella, but everyone knows that it means these replicants.  The replicants, they look good.  They look like they know what's going on.  They can fake it.  But as soon as you ask them any question, they're completely clueless.  I was like I haven't had a boyfriend in three years.  I look like I know what's going on, but I have no idea.  Plus, it's easy to remember, so it works.  At the time, in Portland, there were all these bands with like seventeen vowels and punctuation, and you had to Google them because you couldn't remember how to say them.  I wanted something you could say and remember and spell."On the inspiration for Junk Sick:"There's a neighborhood just outside of Portland that's super cheap and a little sketchy.  Not sketchy like you're going to get jumped, but sketchy like it's where hipsters go to die from OD'ing on heroin.  I was visiting this photographer there, and he says to me 'What's wrong with me?  If I don't drink every day I feel junk sick.'  I had never heard the term before, but as soon as I heard it, I knew what he meant.  And the thing was, my boyfriend, we'd break up and I'd be so upset, I would literally throw up.  And so, when he said junk sick, I was like that's how he makes me feel.  Junk sick.  Like wanting something so bad you want to throw up, which is ridiculous.  I've never felt that way about anyone, and most of the album is about him."  For the record, Ilima's favorite track on the album is Magic Eyes.  "Every album is personal, but this album took it to a new level of very personal without the schtick - that character I play on stage who expresses what she really thinks, making it easier to say things.  People have been responding well.  It's been crazy and good."On her public persona:Ilima is openly bisexual, but while she is monogamous in a relationship, she says she does a lot of shows in drag and sometimes plays up that side to feel safer traveling.  "If people assume I don't screw men, they don't try so hard."  Of the strange things that have happened to her at shows, she said sometimes she gets weird presents.  "One time some guy gave me a baby Jesus, and I kept it to prove it happened because otherwise it's completely unbelievable." Final thoughts:"There are times when I feel like you practically need an engineering degree to be a musician.  You can't just pick up a guitar and go.  Everything is digital, and the game is changing constantly.  You're figuring out, okay, we're not doing Myspace anymore.  What are we doing?  So much is online.  Imagine a musician trying to do anything without a website and an online presence."  Even so, Ilima is still a DIY artist.  "I have a little help managing it now, but 95% of everything is me.  When you E-mail directly it is me answering.  I still have a day job, but it's getting better. What could maybe support one starving musician who couch crashes a lot is not enough for a home and two kids, so I'm still plugging at it, but it's definitely getting better."As Ilima wisely says, "If anybody feels like the things I do are things they can't do, I mean you can.  You're never too old or too awkward.  I mean, I'm a midget with glasses and if I can do it, you can too."Connecting with The Sexbots:Plans are in the works for a tour with upcoming dates booked in Japan and other locales beginning probably in April 2014.  The Sexbots are very open to both new collaborations and bookings.  "If someone wants The Sexbots to come out and do a show, it's not too hard to make it feasible with presales.  Anyplace that has a PA, we can plug and play."   Ilima can be contacted directly either by her website or her personal E-mail at ilimaconsidine@gmailcom, and Ilima herself will reply to inquiries.” - Karen Nix

The Nix Mix

Ilima Considine Last year, we profiled trans-disciplinary artist Ilima Considine about “Don’t Stop,” the debut from her musical project Ilima Considine and The Sexbots. Considine is back with her third Sexbots album, “Junk Sick,” so we followed up with another email interview. Could you elaborate on the title “Junk Sick” and themes behind the songs? This album is basically a series of love letters to the man who left me right after the [last] album was completed. The first several months we were together, we were constantly breaking up. When this happened, I was so upset that I would start vomitting. Junk sick is a term for the vomitting that accompanies heroin withdrawal. I was hanging out with an ex-junkie photographer in St. John’s and he said to me, “When I don’t drink, I feel junk sick. What does that mean?” Obviously, it meant he was a huge alcoholic. I had never heard the phrase before, but I immediately knew what it meant and I thought, “That’s how J– makes me feel.” Who did you collaborate with musically for this album? Did the composition/recording process differ from previous albums in any specific ways? I worked with DJ Ceez, Qmulus, and Stereospread. I used the same sound engineer as on Love Hotel, PE Strickland, but I recorded most of the tracks at home and then went to him for mixing and mastering. I wouldn’t say that the compositional process was especially different, but how I felt during it was different. I felt like I was eviscerating myself and then presenting the results as beautiful music. I tried to record in studio with PE Strickland, but I felt that it sounded too performative, and I wanted it to sound more personal- to one person, rather than an audience. I rerecorded everything at home, went back, and… we had one last mixing session that ended after midnight the night before I got on an early, early plane with both my kids to go to my brother’s wedding in Hawaii. I told Prince we were going to keep going until it was done and we did, but afterwards, he told me to stop torturing him, and from now on, just do my own mixing and just come to him for mastering. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, I had lost faith in myself as a producer, and he was telling me that I was good enough, and that it was easier for me to just do it than to try to explain mystical sonic qualities to him. It was exactly what I needed to hear.   In terms of the sounds used, there does seem to be more of an 80’s influence on “Junk Sick” – could you comment on that? Was there a conscious effort to utilize elements from that era (things like old synth sounds) without actually sounding ‘retro’? No, I think it’s more like- we’re all within a few years of each other in age and children of the 80′s, and the ways that we remember our childhood, are sometimes different from the way that things actually were. For instance, I exactly remembered a doorknob in the house I grew up in, but I remembered it being rather high up. And there was a great emotional dissonance when I went back and saw it from the height of an adult. I think that it goes back to the way we remember the theory of songs that we heard many years ago, and may not have listened to them specifically. Kind of the way that stories change through oral history- when not referencing an exact recording repeatedly, our memory changes slightly. It has to do with the way that those memories were filtered through other musical experiences that we’ve collectively had over the years. You’ve made videos for all the tracks on the album – could you describe for approach to them? For example, did you plan of all them from the start to create a cohesive ‘video album’? Or do approach them completely track by track? How long do you tend to spend making each one? I approach them completely separately from each other. Half the time, video making is inspired, concept-driven, and then slapped in the face with a dose of reality. Other times, it’s like making dinner- I see what I have lying around the house and who’s available to hang out on a given day and go with that. Any time there’s a resource, such as a videographer with awesome gear who wants to try working together, I’ll throw together a shoot as quickly as possible to take advantage of it. It takes 1-3 days to shoot and edit a video, depending on the complexity. This can be spread over longer time… for example, we shoot, I catch a cold, and then realize I don’t know how to convert the footage into something Final Cut Pro can deal with… but without the periods of real life interspersed, I think it’s about 1-3 days of work (8-30 hours) put into each one. Sometimes it’s as simple as, hey, I came back from New Orleans with a pint of glitter, and I once saw this girl at a kink night who was covered in it, head to toe. I wonder if we can try that at home… and I am still finding glitter under my bed. That trick doesn’t work with craft glitter. Do you consider how your work might be perceived by audiences who are introduced to it through your live shows vs just hearing the music/seeing the music videos? What, if anything, do you feel people are missing out on if they don’t have the chance to see you perform live? I think there’s a lot missed out, energy wise, by not seeing a live show- at least in my own experience of going to shows. There are elements that can not be captured in recordings in any medium. If a band can’t sell it live, it’s not going to work. One thing that I have tried to do in my videos, is acknowledge the dichotomy in my work- between the freaky art pop goddess and the fact that I’m totally the single mom next door, albeit one with terrible, terrible fashion sense- and to present both sides at once, thus giving them something that they can’t get from the stage show. I make a point of not wearing makeup in videos and filming in my real environment, in places I know and inhabit in real life. I love Lady Gaga as a visual artist, but she has so many followers who get caught up in some of the side details. I think natural women are sexy. I wear makeup but I will never wear fake eyelashes, or corsets, or Spanx, or any of that. (The one time I wore a corset in a video was as a feminist commentary on how sexual accoutrements infantilize women.) I hardly ever wear heels because I need to feel the ground beneath me when I’m dancing. As a teenager in Southern California, I was told I was too short, too fat, too ethnic- whatever. I was afraid to participate in the music scene because I didn’t think I fit the part. Now I realize that the swagger of embracing whatever you are, fearlessly(or you know, being able to fake it well), is hot. How did it work out using Kickstarter to fund the album? I learned a lot. Mainly about my own fears and insecurities about presenting my work and asking other people to help. It was such an emotional roller coaster, and basically a full time job. I was drained, and got really sick travelling and working long hours, but every time I felt way down low, I thought of the obligation I had- not so much for the money, but for the trust that was put in me. For people believing in the music. I couldn’t let those people down. I may have to do this on the next album, and I will do it ten times better with all I learned the first time. In terms of the promotional and business side of things, what would you say some of the big things are that you’ve learned since starting this project? Get festivals to sign contracts. No more unlicensed festivals (this is a big thing in Oregon, and they get shut down all the time). Book holiday shows 3-4 months out. And, yikes… in previous bands, I spent like 95% time on music and 5% business side. That ratio is way different now. I realized that no one’s going to walk up and sign me out of nowhere, success is often more about push than talent, and I believe in the music I do. I believe that it’s worth the push, and I had to get that whole “I’m an artiste, I don’t have to promote” mindset out of myself as self-sabotaging, and say- the work is worth it, therefore I will learn how to promote and do it. I’m also extremely shy and tend to stay at home working on art projects, so this has been fighting against my natural tendencies. It’s paid off, but I miss the years when every day, after dinner, we’d play for 3-4 hours. Keep smiling. Practice talking about your band until you get good at it. Leave the house once in awhile. This isn’t a business thing, but keep safe people around you. I get so nervous before shows that I get frantic and can’t eat, and then I get lightheaded and get drunk off half a drink. I try to keep certain safe people around me and they all know to yell at me until I eat something. I am a hot mess when I have low blood sugar. Are you planning on doing any national (or international?) touring to promote this album? Yes, I will be going to Japan in February and again in April. I will be attacking the US in portions at a time. I have a rule never to be away from the children for more than 2 weeks, so I will be doing it piece by piece. Dying to do Europe but looking for help booking this. I always feel like I am making major faux pas when I use Google translate. The easiest way to track my shows is probably or stalk me on Facebook- I’m under my real name, Ilima Considine. Also, if you want to help get The Sexbots tour Europe, (I know Germany is dying for us!) please write me directly at I’m my own label and my own management company. You won’t be talking to some tormented intern or under-secretary- everything is through me. I’m not doing this to get laid or get rich or to be cool- I’m trying to tell stories that help people understand themselves and see their lives differently. I’m trying to make the kind of music that changes people’s lives. ” - Robert Gourley

Chaos Control

Sexbots are true DIY, putting out waves of material with no financial backing but making it work and getting an audience. Sexbots are art pop in the highest sense, pulling together concepts and wordy explanations with the flair of a deranged showman. Sexbots are also in a bad place, naming their new album ‘Junk Sick’ after the act of being physical ill in heroin withdrawal because the partner who’d inspired the songs dumped them shortly after recording. But most importantly, Sexbots are good, providing a truly off kilter set of soundscapes sourced from over the world with the lyrics and vocals of Ilima Considine over the top. It’s the sound of Nintendos, tape and haunted nursery rhymes. They’re not going to chart, but they are something you can curl up with.” - Media Monkey

Supa Jam

[DRAG FAB] Drag queen Latrice Royale made a legend of herself on Miami’s South Beach scene, where gaudiness is a staple and major tourist attraction. But this diva recently spread her plastic jewel-encrusted wings: The globe-trotting gender bender hopscotches west this winter, roosting in Oregon for three nights. Also on this bill,  celebrating the release of latest album Junk Sick is Portland’s own Sexbots, an electronic anomaly led by the breathy, sultry Ilima Considine. Between Miss Royale’s and Miss Considine’s vastly divergent—but equally intense—approaches to sexuality, this is certainly the least PC thing going on in Portland tonight. It will be awesome. ” - Grace Stainback

Willamette Week

Portland-based art popsters “The Sexbots” Portland-based art popsters The Sexbots will be playing at Franklin’s Bottle Shop on October 19 followed by Ninja Turtle Ninja Tiger. The Sexbots are/is Ilima Considine- who sets her inimitable vocals against electronic soundscapes from around the world.  During a band breakup, Considine was approached by several beatmakers who wanted a vocalist without the commitment of a band.  The Sexbots brings to life a series of e-mail collaborations, carefully curated and art-directed by Considine- who performs alone.  Surprisingly, the unknown band with no label, no management, and before the first show was even played outside Portland -managed to chart on CMJ with their first album.  Since then, Considine has toured and released a no-budget music video for every song- entire albums can be listened to on youtube, accompanied by images of the bespectacled singer falling out of trees, dancing naked, or being repeatedly killed by her children’s stuffed tigers(the children can often be seen frolicking in the background).  Along with an undefinable and shifting accent, Considine’s appearance is largely ambiguous- often androgynous, ethnically unclear(Irish-Chinese), with big eyes/tiny stature/theatrical gestures making it unclear how old or how serious she is about anything.  She is entirely serious about the emotional inner world she charts- of a woman vacillating between love and sex, between need and regret.  With a stage presence verging on performance art, Considine has received grants from both the Oregon Arts Commission and the Regional Arts and Culture Council. The title of the third album, Junk Sick, is a term for the vomiting that accompanies heroin withdrawal, which seemed apt for the relationship depicted in 8 out of 11 songs.  Another title considered was “Love Makes Me Nervous”.  Regret, jealousy, and desire are recurring themes.  The music has always incorporated spoken word, weird samples, and the odd song structures of a classically trained violinist turned indie vocalist- but this album is unabashedly art pop with the heavy nostalgia that children of the 80’s have for smashed and deconstructed Nintendo sounds, primitive synths, cassettes, and shitty mics.  The first song of the album, “The Only Thing”,  sound recalls Nightrider, Bladerunner, Mario Bros., and Japanese poptarts all at once.  This album was funded by a Kickstarter campaign whose rewards included “inappropriately long hugs”.”

Willamette Live (Salem, OR)