How Illy became Drake, and some of my own mistakes. The subtle art of messing up as a (music) journo

Journalism and blogging are risky, brutal professions. No, really – they are. No matter how much research you do, how many people proofread your text, and how many times you check the article’s layout, there’s always something that goes South. Mostly, they’re minor glitches, like forgetting a comma. For others, “hot mess” is an understatement.

The amusing but bizarre thing that happened to the Australian rapper, Illy, made me think of all the times I’ve messed up writing about music from Down Under. And I think it’s time I came clean about some of my mishaps, too. So, welcome to my little confession room for a change.

PART 64 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE

But let’s set the context first.

Illy is an Australian rapper. He is white. Drake is a Canadian rapper. He is black. Pretty much everybody heard of the latter. Those of us casting our nets wider in the music biz know and appreciate Illy. Apart from the music genre they both represent (and their age, which is a pure coincidence in this case), they don’t have much in common. Yet, somebody out there managed to confuse them. You could say it’s a classic example of an epic fail. But is it?

Illy couldn’t have asked for a better free publicity and promo timing. That is not to say that he had anything to do with it, of course. But the Aussie muso is about to drop his highly anticipated sixth studio album, The Space Between, this coming Friday. So, being connected to one of the biggest hip hop stars of our times in the week leading up to the release is definitely going to play in his favour. 

As for Drake, his reps haven’t reacted to the mishap yet, and I reckon they won’t. I’m fairly sure it’s not the first time it’s happened. They’ll spin it the right way, too, if they have to. (Wouldn’t it be awesome, though, if Drake reached out to Illy, and we got a surprising Canadian-Australian collab following the cock-up?)

And even though it’s embarrassing AF for the newspaper that published the photo, it’s free marketing for them as well. So it really seems like a win-win situation for all parties involved. End of context.

Here’s where my humble story comes into play. I’ve been where that paper is today, more than once. In the three years of writing this blog, I’ve already scored major embarrassing f**k-ups. (Which blogger hasn’t?!) I’m ready to share three of them with you so that you know I’m just a human being as well.

LESSON 1: LABEL YOUR DAMN FILES CORRECTLY

Some time ago I interviewed an Australian rapper (not Illy, but maybe one day, who knows). It was a pretty important chat for me, personally. I’d prepared for it extensively and travelled to a different city to meet the artist. It was an awesome experience and, just by accident, I got to meet another Aussie band I’m a massive fan of at the same time.

When I was doing the write-up, I had a few different versions of it stored on my desktop (a VERY bad idea, let me stress that). Since the muso was very generous with his time, there was so much we talked about that I wanted to make sure I covered all the important topics in the right context.

As usual, before publishing anything, I provided a copy to the artist’s manager for authorisation. Here’s where probability and chance got mixed up in the whole thing. Obviously, I chose the wrong file, with a quote that should have never been there, involving another artist that fell out of grace in the music biz.

Worse yet, I didn’t realize I’d made the mistake until the manager came back to me with feedback. She said everything was fine, she’d only ask to have that particular sentence removed. At that moment, I felt pretty down, like an insensitive and ignorant amateur, to put things diplomatically.

Just to be clear: the artist’s manager was very polite and nice about it. And it was totally my own fault. It all ended well – I apologised, naturally. But I definitely learned my lesson with this one, believe you me. “Triple-check attachments” is my middle name these days 🙂

And since I have your attention now, here‘s the interview in question with Briggs, plus a clip from the gig I attended after the interview.

LESSON 2: TURN OFF FREAKING AUTO-CORRECT WHERE IT’S NOT NEEDED

The dictionary is a wonderful thing… provided it corrects what it should and not when it thinks it knows better. It’s sooooo important in the context of artists. Many times, they specifically want to emphasise their uniqueness by choosing a totally surprising form of a word or something completely made up that nobody has ever heard of.

Think of the name Kylie, for instance. It can be spelt in many different ways: Kylee, Kiley, Kayleigh, Kaylee etc. Obviously, it’s in the journo’s highest interest to ensure they got the name right. Plus, the spellcheck can’t possibly know all the variations. The English language develops superfast, and new words are added to the dictionary nearly every single day. I’ve seen some wild examples of mistakes involving artists’ monikers as a music fan over the years (including serious publications). And – you guessed it right – there’s one case that’s haunting me, too.

Here, I’d humbly like to ask the Australian singer, Ruel, for forgiveness for all the past and (possibly) future mistakes. Even as I’m typing his name for the hundredth time on this blog, my spellcheck wants to forcefully change it to “Rule”. Despite having saved the right word and disabling the damn thing altogether, I might add.

I did a review of my blog once and caught a few instances where it was wrongly spelt. I’m sure it’s not all, though. Once you’ve seen a text a few times, your brain stops focusing on it word by word, and things slip through. So if you ever find the young Aussie singer’s name misspelt here, give me a shout, please. Better yet – let’s make it a Ruel, okay?

As a token of appreciation to the artist, here’s also one of his recent singles:

LESSON 3: DON’T EXPERIMENT IF YOU DON’T HAVE TO

I tend to do risky things from time to time. Or maybe not risky, but venturesome at best. I may even anticipate well in advance that I’m walking on pretty thin glass. But I really, really like finding things out for myself, so I often take the plunge in the end. Like this rather stupid idea that popped in my head – testing to what extent people don’t read captions, but like posts anyway.

Before revealing the nature of the mess-up, please know that I regard AC/DC as one of the greatest bands. Not only in Aussie music history but also as global rock’n’roll legends. It just so happened that the image I was testing had something to do with them.

So here’s what went down. I posted a photo of the band’s second vocalist, Bon Scott, but captioned it as Brian Johnson. Why, you ask? To see how many AC/DC fans know their fave bands’ history. It wasn’t my intention to mislead people – I was going to eventually correct the caption anyway. I just didn’t know how long it would take for anybody to spot the error. Three hours and some post likes later, a guy finally commented that the name of the person in the photo was wrong. I thanked him for catching it and changed it. Or so I thought.

Similarly to lesson number 2, I corrected the name… but was auto-corrected by the phone’s dictionary as well, without noticing it. So I hit “save” and went about my day, satisfied that I proved my point and convinced that I needed to work on my captions for people to actually read them. Imagine my embarrassment when I was publicly called out by an Aussie vocalist for misspelling the name I thought I’d corrected.

Bon is not a popular name, you see. And it’s dangerously close to another English one. Hence, the spellcheck’s decision that “Ben” was a much better and more realistic option. So, as a forever monument to this silly idea of mine, I left the “post of shame” on my socials to remind me to never, EVER, be a smart ass again.

To make it up to the Aussie legends, please enjoy the first single from their new album:


If my blogging mistakes can send a message, it’s this one: Don’t try this at home! I’m definitely not planning on making a fool out of myself again anytime time soon (fingers crossed!). Hopefully, the poor paper that mixed up the two rappers takes it as a learning curve as well.

Finally, coming back to Illy – I reckon all signs (albeit pretty random) are pointing in the direction of a great record dropping 15 January. And in case you need any further encouragement to check it out, maybe you’ll be enticed by this single, featured on the album as well. I, sure as hell, hope that Drake will give it a listen 🙂

Cover image: Digital Marketing Institute

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