Brooklyn-based artist Eliana dropped her latest single, “Cycle” on May 22nd followed by an accompanying music video out May 26th. Speaking to The Crush, Eliana talks us through the story behind the single, her sound, her creative outlets outside, what’s next and much more.
Thanks for taking some time to chat with me. Everyone gets into the music business for different reasons. What, or who, inspired you to become a musician?
I’ve been singing and writing songs from a very early age. I still have my songbook from when I was 8 years old. The love for music was always deeply rooted; all of the times in my life where I tried to take a different path, I always ended up back writing and recording. My inspirations as a young child are hard to remember, but I think the biggest motivation to pursue music as I’ve grown have been family and friends who put so much belief into my work, showing me that I was the only person who didn’t believe in myself.
How would you describe your unique sound?
Haha, I’m glad you think it’s unique! I would say it’s a big combination, maybe, alt-indie with singer-songwriter roots, and synths. At least that’s what it is right now. Who knows what’ll be tomorrow, man.
Your new single is called “Cycle”. What can you tell us about the story behind the song?
Alright, here we go. I harbored feelings for someone I was friends with/on-and-off hooking up with for years. I knew the feelings were unrequited, and I also knew that what I was experiencing was an infatuation and idealization of a person I couldn’t have. I knew I never would actually be happy being with/dating this person. But when you experience something so deep and magnetic, it’s really hard to comprehend how the other person can’t reciprocate what you are feeling. The whole situation to me, at a certain point was just so ridiculous, overworked and dramatic. Not to mention, all in my head. I began to think that this build up was because I’ve never been blatantly honest with myself or the other person about how I really felt. It’s really easy to build things up in your head. So after another “cycle” of our usual friends, hook up, friends, “I'm sad” pattern, I decided to just let it all out. I wanted to create a melodramatic and alternative tone to lighten the seriousness and weight of the situation for me. I stopped worrying about what this person would think, if they would be able to tell if the song was about them because that definitely hinders the honesty and relatability of the work. I was tired of leaving things unsaid, I didn’t really care anymore how this would alter our relationship. It was always an off one to begin with.
There is such an artistic style to the video. How did you come up with the story in the video?
I cannot take credit for the storyline of the video. I met with Alison Hale and Alex Kokenis (It’s A Long Story Productions) who were directing/filming/producing the video. We went through the song, the lyrics, and discussed how we all related to the meaning of the message. They came up with detailed story lines and themes and I absolutely loved the concept so we went with it.
One thing I noticed was the constant presence of a laundry basket. Is there a significance to the laundry basket in the video?
Yes! The laundry basket is filled with all of “his” belongings; clothes left at my place, objects that remind me of him. The idea is that I’m carrying around his baggage, memories with him, to all the different places we had spent time together, until I finally get to the laundromat to wash/clean/get rid of, get over, at least temporarily until the “cycle” of our relationship restarts.
Wow, I love the depth and symbolism of that. How has the coronavirus affected the release of “Cycle”?
The pandemic has pushed a lot of artists and their teams to become more creative not only in terms of release but also how to go about writing and collaborating with others online. It’s hard to exactly pinpoint the ways in which the release might have been different otherwise, but my main focus, especially during this time is making sure that the music I’m releasing can provide some relatability and comfort. However, I really hope people can listen to this one together, in outdoor settings soon. I always listened to it walking to the subway on my way to parties/gatherings etc.
What’s yet to come for you this year?
There is a lot of uncertainty right now about how the world will be turning for the foreseeable future. All I can say is there is more music and other artistic collaborations on the way. I’ve been very grateful for the time I’ve had to hone in on skills and learn how to find inspiration from a confined space. It’s definitely the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding parts of the process. Creation, creation, creation.
Where is your dream venue to play?
I would love to play at Golden Gate Park or Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
The benefits of music are endless. It’s truly a therapy for me, and I think my personal connection to it will always grow deeper. Also, being able to collaborate with others on a creative level, when you’re able to click with someone like that, damn.
Can you tell me a little about your songwriting style and process?
I write alone a lot, but the process has definitely changed for me over the years. I sometimes sit down with my guitar with a melody idea and write chords over it. Sometimes I have chords written and write a melody over it. I also might be working with another musician/producer, often Cairo MN(who produced this track might I add). Lately I’ve been trying to establish some instrumental structure, then press record and see what I gain from freestyling; this forces me to be in a focused headspace, but also allows me to have more fun and freedom. This pushes me to really be present in my current mood, which can bring up situations I didn’t even know I was thinking about.
Any creative person will inevitably hit a wall of writer's block at some point. How do you overcome that?
When I get writer’s block (which happens a lot), I’ve learned to listen to that disconnect and not get frustrated by it. Your mind needs time and space to process different emotions and events. There have been topics and situations I’ve wanted to write about but never could successfully do for years, and then one day it just comes out in the right way in 20 minutes, and I’m late to dinner with my friends. There are also so many different parts of the writing process for me. If I can’t speak on anything at the moment, I can go work on production for other songs, brainstorm visual ideas and concepts for future projects, learn a cover, or just go doing something else entirely; you also need to live your life in order to have experiences and ideas to reflect on. Talk with a friend, go on a walk, draw a shitty drawing, take a nap, break up with your significant other, ha, just kidding. Unless you want to, it usually makes for great material.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Etta James, Bon Iver, James Blake, Amy Winehouse, Daughter, Alex Turner, Frank Ocean, FKA Twigs, Leonard Cohen, Rostam.
What song, or songs, can you not stop listening to?
Chewing Cotton Wool by Japanese House, Clock by Carol, and Pienso En Tu Mira by Rosalia
Are you a creative person with anything other than music?
I started painting/drawing recently, but not sure how great I am at that. It’s still a nice escape for me. Otherwise I’m usually writing.
Drawing can be a creative outlet for sure. If you weren’t a musician, what would you have chosen as a career?
I think I would be a therapist, maybe a music therapist.
FOLLOW ELIANA :
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/elianadoyawanna/
Bandcamp : https://eliana.bandcamp.com
Soundcloud : https://soundcloud.com/eliana-ballin
Written by Amanda Epstein
Amanda is an avid music lover and supports independent artists in various genres. She writes for music publications in her spare time to share her love of music with the world, as well as learning to be a musician herself. She believes that music has to be experienced and not just heard.
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