I personally follow a somewhat Platonist view for the really hard part of consciousness -- qualia. Explaining subjective qualia in terms of something simply seems insurmountable, and since my own experience is the only thing I can say is objectively real, I can't deny qualia as an illusion (like many do).
I can do some reasoning about qualia of course. Obviously, my subjective experience of the colors blue and red are more similar than my experience of the color red and the note C#. So there is definitely a metrical aspect of qualia, that allows me to distinguish the different sensory modalities I'm experiencing. There is some deeper relstionship, at least for me, however. A high pitch sound is more similar to the color white for me, than than a low pitch sound. Obviously that may only be ny experience, but that is still something I notice.
Ultimately, while I think the subjective aspect of qualia can never be explained (is my red tha same as yours?), I think qualia is "explainable" in terms of independent aspects of variation in the brain's sensory data. The primary colors correspond to the frequencies of light that excite pairs of cone cell types maximally (i.e. color opponency), and so that our brains can differentiate three independent dimensions that differentiate colors, which we explain in terms of primary colors.
In terms of explaining consciousness itself, I think >>10130818
(and others) have the right idea with putting self-awareness in the spotlight. Thinking about our own consciousness requires self-awareness, assessing that I am conscious now, and not when I was in deepsleep 12 hours or so ago requires observance of my own mental state. From a neuroscientific perspective, this may be something like an aspect of the brain's function is to predict/model its own internal states, and how they vary with sensory input. Not only does my brain have a model of the outside world, it also models itself modeling the outside world (read GEB).