An Interview With ELSIE AND THE VIBE On Her Forthcoming EP, Leaving Australia for New York and More!
Posted On 21 Jun 2017
Meet the Melbourne, Australia-born, Brooklyn-based indie soul/R&B artist, Elsie and The Vibe.
In mid-August she will be releasing her self-titled EP. This collection was produced by Jonathan Dreyfus (Gretta Ray, Lama) and Robert Upward (Emaar, Shelley Segal). The single “Just Don’t” is already out now.
According to Kick Ass Indie Jams, “It’s her smooth, smokey vocals, backed with a gospel-ish soaring choir that swells with sexy brass and gorgeous strings, that turns this fusion of vintage soul and R&B into a deep, raw emotional debut!”
Learn more about Elsie in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for you and your music? How has 2017 been treating you?
Thanks so much for having me! I would describe 2016 as an adventure, challenging, rewarding, inspiring and as a turning point for my music career. It was the year that I finished recording my first EP and moved to New York! I’ve been very lucky that 2017 has been more of the same!
Where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it?
I’m sitting on my couch in Bushwick and just finished some Vietnamese food delivery. I’m a little bit addicted to Taro bubble tea at the moment. I also just discovered that a new season of Jane The Virgin is out so that’s playing in the background.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
I definitely always wanted to be a musician but early on I didn’t believe that I’d be able to do it. I was very self conscious! One time I was cast as a tree in a school musical….when I was 16… which didn’t help my confidence haha. Eventually I decided that I had to stop worrying about what other people thought and pushed to put myself out there! My earliest musical memory was probably taking recorder classes when I was 3 or 4 years old. I actually really loved playing the recorder because I loved listening to songs and then working out the melody on the recorder by ear.
If you weren’t an artist today, what else could you see yourself doing?
If I wasn’t an artist, I’d be in a profession that involved working with and assisting people. I am actually a qualified elementary teacher and teach part time to supplement my music career. I really love working with kids, particularly those that require additional, sometimes one on one attention and support to thrive at their full potential in the traditional classroom setting. Also with the way that the world is changing at the moment I’ve recently developed a keen interest in politics – I’d love to be able to create some sort of positive change on a policy level.
How did you come up with your artist name? Why did you decide to not just go by your own real name?
My main reason was because I have worked as an elementary teacher – I didn’t want the kids to be able to google my name and find various songs or interviews or photos that might not be at a level directed at children. My song ‘Just Don’t’ has lyrics I wouldn’t want played in a classroom!
When I was first trying out artist names, I used a couple that didn’t have any personal relevance – that didn’t really work for me. It felt like I was trying to fit into someone else’s skin. I eventually settled on Elsie because it is a name that my family and friends have always called me. I was looking for an ‘and’ to go after ‘Elsie’ as the live performance includes the band just as much as myself – the band’s talents and energy make the show what it is! I felt like ‘The Vibe’ perfectly encapsulated the general ‘vibe’ of the show!
How have you been able to incorporate your Australian roots into your music? When did you first decide to move to New York? How did that big move affect your music and who you are as a musician?
I think the way that I best incorporated my Australian roots into my music was simply by writing about my life’s experiences – which have mostly occurred in Australia! I decided to move to New York in February 2016 and was here by June, however, it was something I had been thinking and talking about for years. I was in a situation where I was able to come for 1 year, and that opportunity would have disappeared if I waited, so I bit the bullet and moved over! That move has affected me SO HUGELY and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have spent time making music in New York. It was kind of like a fast track for growth and exposure – I feel like the amount that I have learned in 1 year would have taken me 3 years back home! I’ve performed over here more consistently than I ever have and play music with my friends most nights of the week. I go out and watch other singers perform, how they move, how they use their voice to express their music, listen to a whole lot of different genres, write music with other people… and so much more that has all affected me hugely as a musician in the most positive way.
Let’s talk about your self-titled EP that is due for release next month on July 8th. Where did the inspiration for these songs come from? How long have you been wanting to put this collection together?
The five songs on the EP are a compilation of some of the songs that I had written over the last 10 years. I had so many to choose from and just went with the ones that felt best and the most relevant to me at the time. I started recording the EP in 2014 and had been wanting to record a collection of songs probably forever!
What things inspire you to write a song? Can you talk about your process from initial idea to a full-fledged song?
I first started write songs out of necessity – when I was feeling a certain way or passionate about something, I’d turn to songwriting as a form of release. Now I’ll not only write songs when I am feeling a particular emotion, but I’ll also sit down specifically to write or work on a song. For me, words and melodies are intimately linked from the get go. I’ll sit at the piano, guitar or neither, and just sing out how I’m feeling, then go back to the start, and sing through it with the addition of another line, and go back to the start again, and push a little bit further into the song. I’ll end up singing it over and over until it starts to take form. Sometimes I’ll finish an entire song that way. Other times I’ll just get a chorus or a verse and come back to it later. When that happens, I usually have to use my brain a little bit more to finish the song instead of just allowing it to flow out.
Who are some of your very favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I’ve been inspired my so many musicians! The ones I always have to mention are Lauryn Hill, Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys – I discovered these women when I was a teenager and their voices blew me away. I was really drawn to female singers with really powerful voices and I would listen to their albums and try to teach myself to sing in the same way that they did. I love RnB and soul music, particularly soul music from the 60s – I am constantly inspired by music from that era! I’d love to work with any of the women mentioned above, or Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Solange, Leanne La Havas, Allen Stone, Mary J Blige, Bruno Mars… ah there are too many to name!
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I hope people feel something when they listen to my music – that something in my music resonates with them. I also think positive messages are really super duper important. The EP that I am about to release centres around owning your power and being proud of your truth. It’s about honesty, vulnerability and strength. In the future I plan to release more music that focuses on social issues as well as my own personal experiences.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started on this music path? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
Jump in. Learn as you go. If it is something that you are passionate about, then there is no reason why you can’t carve yourself a place in the music world. Just keep meeting new people, and playing music with others and exposing yourself to new situations! There is nothing that can hold you back except for yourself!
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I hate sharing drinks so if you offer me a sip of yours, I will say no. And don’t even think about getting your mouth germs anywhere near my straw! I think that’s pretty important for all of us going forward – just wanted you to know it’s not you, it’s me.