Holly Conner is a drummer, percussionist, and producer based in Sydney. The rhythmic backbone behind many Australian acts, she is known for her creativity and versatility as a performer, improviser, collaborator, band member, composer, and solo artist.

Holly has toured throughout Australia and Europe with artists CLEWS, Lupa J, Holly Throsby, and Microfiche; recorded for film and tv; performed as part of large-scale art installations at venues such as The Sydney Opera House and Carriageworks; and has played at many festivals across the world. She is just as at home playing electronic pop with producers, or belting the drums in indie rock bands, as she is in the worlds of film music, free jazz, and experimental performance art. Alongside her work as a free-lance artist and creative collaborator, she also performs and produces her own percussion-meets-electronic music (sometimes ambient, sometimes industrial) under her moniker ilex.

Coming from a diverse musical background, she first studied rock drumming and classical percussion, before completing a BA in Jazz Drum kit from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.  Holly has also completed summer courses at the School of Improvised Music Brooklyn, and two Australian Art Orchestra Creative Music Intensives.  

In 2022, Holly became one of three finalists for the Freedman Fellowship. The Fellowship Finals recognise those at the forefront of contemporary jazz and improvised music in Australia. Following Holly's ilex performance for the Fellowship Eric Myers of Loudmouth magazine wrote - 

 "Dynamic, powerful...an impressive display of virtuosic drumming....Highly theatrical, the sound and vision were highly impressive" - Eric Myers 

As a free-lance drummer, Holly has toured nationally and internationally with artists such as Holly Throsby, Microfiche, Lupa J, Human Noise; and currently performs with Glenn Hopper (folk and pop); plus indie rock bands CLEWS, and Angeles .  

Festival appearances include many performances at the Sydney Opera House for VIVID Sydney, Sydney Festival, The Sydney Biennale, STRATA Festival at Phoenix Central Park, Liveworks, Underbelly Arts, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Edinburgh Jazz Festival, Aberdeen International Youth Festival, Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival and Manly Jazz Festival.  She has also played at venues such as N1Reaktorhallen in Stockholm, Km28 in Berlin, MONA in Tasmania and The Art Gallery of NSW.

Her drumming is also featured on several indie film and television soundtracks including the BBC/HBO TV series Top of The Lake: China Girl, and the award-winning surf film Beyond the Noise.  In 2022, she was the deputy drum chair for the award-winning musical SIX, performing several shows at the Opera House Studio during their Sydney season.

Holly has been the recipient of several awards and scholarships. In 2019 Holly was a finalist for the Jaan Rutherford Memorial Award, recognizing excellence in Australian female jazz instrumentalists; 2022 saw her become a Freedman Jazz Fellowship Finalist; in 2023, Holly was chosen to participate as a mentee in the Australian Independent Record Labels Association's (Aus Indie's) Women In Music Mentor Program; and has also received Inner West Council professional development support to complete Ableton Liveschool in 2023.

As collaborator, composer, and instrumentalist, Holly's current projects are Microfiche - free jazz and contemporary improvisation collective, receiving multiple 5-star reviews for their latest release & live performances; and Minus Marcus - live pop/electronic/dance music group.  

As well as all of the above, Conner produces and performs her own hybrid electronic/percussion music under the moniker ilex.  Live sets explore all sides of percussion - sometimes rhythmic, driving, heavy and experimental; sometimes textural, meditative and dream-like.

As ilex, Holly has performed live sets supporting DJs such as Tzusing, industrial/punk/noise group Behind You, sound artist Megan Alice Clune, Bluetung, and Asteroid Ekosystem. Most recently, she has performed solo and live at the Sydney Opera House Studio for the 2022 Freedman Fellowship Finals; at the 2022 Sydney Biennale Art After Dark Series; and in 2023 at many local Sydney electronic music nights.

ilex released her debut EP, Visions of Elsewhere, in late 2021 - a more ambient and introspective iteration of percussion-meets-electronic music. In 2023 she was chosen as FBI Radio's Independent Artist of the Week, following the release of her follow-up single "What is Soft is also Strong" . What is Soft was on rotation on FBI radio, and her latest track "Kodamas" has been released on New Weird Australia's most recent ambient compilation, Fragile States.  

Late 2023 will see her travel to Europe, performing with CLEWS and Annie Hamilton; as well as the release of her next ilex EP.