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INTERVIEW: Elsie and the Vibe

Hi Elsie, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks so much for having me! I have been very well thank you!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Just Don’t?” 

Just Don’t is a modern-Motown track with subtle tributes to Amy Winehouse and The Supremes, and some killer horn and string lines. It’s definitely the most straight-talking track on the EP and is all about female empowerment, believing in your worth and standing up for yourself.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Yes actually. It was a very particular event!

There was a guy I really liked, but I was getting mixed messages from him on what his intentions were. I thought he was interested, and then he wasn’t, and then he was….  and you know what it’s like when you have a crush on someone – I just chose to ignore the times where he clearly wasn’t interested and held on to the other more positive moments. So one day I got a message simply saying “hey” – and I had this moment of clarity – the whole thing was bullshit, and he was just interested in the attention.

I was already holding my guitar and started writing/singing. It was one of those songs that almost wrote itself – I finished the lyrics in half an hour. The original melody on the guitar didn’t feel right though – it was too passive and didn’t fit the strength of the lyrics. I moved over to the piano and suddenly the song had the power I was looking for – it came together in a way that really told the story. It’s probably one of the fastest songs I’ve ever finished!

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Currently working on that! I’ll be releasing my first video clip in the next few months!

The single comes off your new self-titled EP – why naming the record after the band?

The EP is a representation of who I am and the journey I’ve taken to get to this point. I’m so proud and grateful to have achieved what I have so far, so I didn’t feel like I needed to say anything else apart from “Look! Here, this is what I made! This is me on a CD!”

How was the recording and writing process?

The songs I recorded were written over a number of years. They were each written because I felt like there was something I needed to get off my chest or something I needed to say. I selected them to record because when I began the recording process (2014), they were the songs that were the most meaningful to me.

The recording process itself was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far in my career. I was privileged to work with amazingly talented people that pushed me to be better, and who I trusted implicitly. It was also a very steep learning curve for me, as I had never done anything like that before!

What was it like to work with Jonathan Dreyfus and how did that relationship develop?

Jono and I went to the same school from when we were 3 years old until we graduated high school! As we’ve know each other for such a long time, he was the first person I went to when I decided to record some of my music. He was extremely generous from the start, and invested so much of his time and energy into bringing my music to life. He also took on a quasi-mentoring role in assisting me with the process from beginning to end – which I am extremely grateful for! Outside of taking my music to a whole new level, he was there to provide me with advice and support at almost every turn.

How much did he influence the album?

Jono was somehow able to listen to my raw tracks on keys and hear exactly how I intended the full track to sound… and often with additional parts, instruments or sections that made the songs even better. His instincts are incredible and my music would not sound the way it does without his contribution. He composed all the horn and string parts and connected me with all the musicians who played on the EP. The bass line and rhythm in the chorus of Just Don’t was all Jono and I really believe it’s that bass line that makes the chorus so powerful! Basically his fingerprints are on every aspect of the EP.

I actually had to take a break mid-recording due to having vocal nodules, and I ended up completing the EP with Robert Upward. Rob pushed me vocally to capture the emotions behind each song and really prepared me for the vocal recording process. I gained a much deeper understanding of performance and conveying a story through working with him! I also recorded the entire track for Naked with him and the song has come out so beautifully. He tied the whole project together, made some indispensable additions to each of the tracks, and spent many late night at the studio. I consider myself very lucky to have worked with two amazing producers!

What role does Brooklyn and Australia plays in your music?

I recorded all of the music on this EP in Australia before I moved to New York, so everything you hear was the pre-NY Elsie. Since being in NY I have been exposed to so many talented musicians, so many varied musical styles and have tried to absorb as much of it as I can! I think my next recording will sound very different as a result!

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Everywhere!! Life is so full of experiences and thoughts and feelings!

I started writing songs out of necessity – when I was younger songwriting was my personal therapist and assisted me through everything that was going on in my life. It was something that always came very naturally to me. As I got older and more aware of the world around me, my music became observational as well as introverted.

At the moment I am focusing on writing more socially aware music that reflects the current political climate. I have always written these types of songs, as social justice always been a passion of mine, but I think especially now, it’s important for messages promoting human rights to come from as many avenues as possible.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’ve been playing a lot in New York, have played in Pennsylvania, and later this month am playing in New Jersey and Connecticut. I’m returning home to Australia at the end of May and will be playing my EP release show in my hometown of Melbourne!

What else is happening next in Elsie and the Vibe’s world?

I am so grateful that I have so much going on right now! I am playing 2-3 gigs per week at the moment and currently planning the release of my EP alongside the release show back in Melbourne, Australia. You can keep up to date with everything via my Facebook (www.facebook.com/elsieandthevibe), Twitter (@elsievibes) or Instagram (@elsieandthevibe)!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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