LiL iFFy is Knoxville native Wil Wright’s alter ego. His band of the same name made its first Bonnaroo appearance last weekend—the only Knoxville-based artist to perform.
How long has Lil iFFy been together?
Tom Ato, LiL iFFy DJ/producer, and I wrote our first LiL iFFy song two years ago last week. Bonnaroo was our 101st show.
How would you describe your music in 10 words or less?
Heavy-handed modern rap music. Lots of Harry Potter references.
When did you start singing and what’s been your biggest performance influence?
I’ve been a part of the Knoxville music scene since 1998 and writing songs since I was 13. My biggest influence as a performer on a major level was Michael Jackson (he was my first concert experience), but my biggest local inspiration as a performer is definitely Rus Harper. He is a force of nature. He is unapologetically into it, and that makes a fierce show.
Who invited you to play Bonnaroo?
I corresponded with Ashley Capps about it throughout the year, and then we were selected by SonicBids. So I guess everybody who had any say over it invited us!
Were you surprised?
Not “surprised” but so, so grateful and excited.
Had you been to Bonnaroo as a audience member before?
I snuck into the festival—sorrrrrry—to see Radiohead in 2006. That’s when I became close friends with Zac Fallon (aka Playboy Manbaby) who was by my side on stage for our performance this year. Pretty special.
Were people surprised your act hails from Knoxville?
We do aggro rap about wizardry, so people are normally surprised that we exist at all. After that, the fact that we’re from Knoxville doesn’t seem to jar anybody.
Did you get up-close and personal with other performers there, like Sir Paul McCartney?
One of my entourage got his mind expanded with some TV celebrities. I don’t think I can say names, but I’d say that’s pretty up-close. My personal star-struck moment was definitely getting photographed by Danny Clinch. That might not mean much to most people, but it was big to me.
How was the weather?
I’m a terrible camper and a true indoorsman, so no matter what the weather was, it was going to feel like hell to me. I think it was allegedly nicer than usual.
What were you doing the day you returned from Bonnaroo to Knoxville—and the day after that?
My phone was dead most of the day on Sunday, our performance day, so I spent the next day answering tweets and texts. People were really excited and anxious to see how everything went down. Then I fell asleep for a really long time.
Would you do it again?
I think every artist’s desire is to do it again—on a stage upgrade. That’s definitely our plan.
Where can we next catch Lil iFFy?
Our summer tour comes through Knoxville on July 26 at Pilot Light. That’s our first local appearance since the festival, so we’re anxious to make it pretty nasty.