Growing up in a small town just north of Chicago, Eleri immersed herself in music, taking guitar, voice, and piano lessons and frequenting Berklee College of Music summer programs. Once she moved to the City of Angels and transformed her apartment into The Canopy Studios, Love Cyanidation started to come to life with Eleri producing, engineering, and playing every instrument herself. That title encapsulates the story at its heart. This Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, and producer conjures up a seductive sound that is unequivocally her own. In early 2014, Eleri unveiled “Play Me,” a track blending her breathy delivery with a Vaudevillian spark and synth bounce that exudes a sexually charged kinetic spark. Ultimately, Eleri’s search for love within the music will prove inspirational for anyone embarking on this journey with her. “I’d love for people to feel like they’re not alone when listening to my music,” she leaves off. “I want to shine light on that beauty and love we all have in ourselves.” Eleri releases her second single “I Need the Chase” off of her upcoming album Love Cyanidation due out on February 3rd. The official music video is due out on December 2, 2014. We got the inside scoop on what she has been involved in musically, and what listeners can expect from her exciting, upcoming releases!
Entertwine: Could you tell us a bit about your background? What was it like growing up just outside of Chicago, Illinois? Did you spend a lot of time during your youth in the big city?
Eleri: I grew up in a very small town, Johnsburg, Illinois. (You might have heard of it from Tom Waits… He wrote a song about it.) There was never really much to do there, which is probably why I focused so much on writing and practicing music. Not to mention I have some introverted tendencies, and I was practically an only child with my sister being 13 years older than me. I am really lucky because my family has always been very supportive of my musical endeavors, so I took 2 to 3 private lessons a week for guitar, piano, and voice since about the age of 11. Some of my first experiences performing included writing a new song and singing it a cappella in front of my classmates for the weekly “Show and Tell” in the fourth grade. From then on, I participated in a variety of talent contests and took advantage of other performance opportunities through school.
Chicago was actually a bit of a drive, between 90 minutes to two hours. I did go there once a week for my voice lessons in high school, but other than that I would really only go there for the occasional concert or museum trip. I did perform a couple of times at “Taste of Chicago – Taste of Talent” during my middle school years, which was a pretty cool experience for me.
What is the overall message or theme within your lyrics? Why do you create original music in the first place?
On this first album, “Love Cyanidation”, the theme is largely related to love and relationships. Besides the new experiences of infatuation and lust, I learned a lot in some of my first experiences dating. A big theme was learning how to love myself and letting go of toxic relationships. I also started to realize some of my own flaws, so some of the songs explore that as well. I think romantic love is just a natural thing to write about as a young artist because the feelings are so new and so intense. Writing gives me an outlet for processing my feelings and gives me a chance to feel connected to others. When people hear my album, I hope that regardless of whether they are experiencing the excitement of new love or the pain of heartbreak, they feel like someone else has been through the same thing and can completely understand.
What is it like living in Los Angeles, California? What has your experience with the different music scenes of Los Angeles been like?
It’s been a bit of a roller coaster to be completely honest. I moved out here when I was 18 in an apartment by myself. That’s a pretty big change from a small little town like Johnsburg. I really needed and wanted the independence of being on my own, but being alone in a big city as a young woman is not easy. I had to learn some pretty hard life lessons on the way. I’ve encountered a lot of challenges in terms of both physical and mental health, but I feel blessed to have discovered somatic therapy to help me through those challenges. I started learning how to really listen to my body and let go of some of the anxious thoughts. Over-exercising and over-working are habits that I’ve really just had to let go of because they were completely destroying my body. I’m still in a healing process, but I’m happy to be on that path. Financially, obviously it’s really difficult to live out here as an independent artist, so that can be tough too. But considering the current economic state, I don’t think that’s a unique issue to have.
With that said, I think this is the place where I need to be. Even from a therapeutic standpoint, I’m not sure I would have as easily found anything as holistic as I have here just because the culture in Los Angeles seems to really support that. On a musical level as well, there are so many like-minded individuals out here and such a diverse crowd of people to learn from. And I can’t complain about the weather or having the beach nearby! There is a lot of nature to be enjoyed here.
What life experiences or events inspired the writing and recording of your new album “Love Cyanidation” (to be released February 3rd, 2015)? Could you walk us through each of the featured tracks? What does the album’s title mean?
Yes, and it will be available for iTunes preorder on January 6th, 2015. It’ll only be $4.99 for that month before the release (regularly $9.99). There will be four instant gratification tracks that you’ll get right away, which will include a new single that has not yet been released (“Butterfly”). Like I was saying before, the album very much explores love and relationships. So it’s a pretty personal album. The album title is a metaphor for gold cyanidation, which is a process for mining gold. Because you have to use the poison cyanide to extract the precious metal, gold, it parallels life and love in that we often have to endure some of the greatest pains in order to discover our greatest pleasures. I thought it was a perfect symbol for finding self-love amongst the excitement of new love and the disappointment of heartbreak.
I’ll tell you a little bit about each of the four instant gratification tracks that will be available with the preorder on iTunes. “The Search” is partly a personal reflection of what the meaning of love is, and partly a song about someone who I felt was questioning that themselves. “I Need the Chase” was inspired by a guy that I met who stood me up on a date. I really wanted him to make up for what he had done, even though I basically told him off and indicated I didn’t want anything to do with him anymore. So it’s a little bit of mind-reading mixed with desperation and frustration, and the production has an 80’s feel. “Play Me” is just a fun, lusty song with a lot of guitar-inspired sexual innuendos. “Butterfly” is a delicate, patient, and thoughtful love ballad with acoustic guitar and electronic samples. I’ve gotten comparisons to Radiohead on this one, which is a good thing.
As for the rest of the songs, I’ll say this – Although the entire album is primarily alternative with electronic elements, it is actually quite broad stylistically. I’ve got a darker track that sounds similar in production to “The Search”, but there are also two piano ballads, a song with a full band-like feel (“Help Me Find Me”), and another song with a dance club feel (“Here For You”).
You played every instrument recorded on the album, and engineered/produced the album, correct? How does your new record differ from or expand on your previous releases (‘The Search’ and ‘Synapsis’)?
Yes, everything, with two exceptions. First, I had my friend and former coworker, Jorge Noboa, record on me on acoustic piano for two of the tracks. The album was mastered by Paul du Gre. But everything else (recording, mixing, editing, and writing) was 100% me.
“The Search” is actually going to be on this album. However, the mix that I released before has since been updated with some better sounds to match the record, so I guess you could say the old release was more or less a demo. But it sounds quite similar to the original mix. “Synapsis” was a track I composed for my time lapse video of my studio build. That track is purely instrumental, and it is very vibey/ambient. I don’t have any instrumental tracks on the album, and I don’t think I’d call any of the album tracks “ambient” either (except maybe the very beginning of “I Need The Chase”). So it is quite different in that sense.
You’ve released the album’s second single (‘I Need the Chase’), whose accompanying music video will be released on December 2nd; what went into the making of this music video?
I worked with my friend, Ilgar Ozturk, who directed the video. He introduced me to Inter-Asia, the production company, who also ended up partially financing the video. My last music video had a very small crew, but we must have had between 20 to 30 people on set that day. I’m such a control freak, so I’m not used to working on a bigger scale where there are a lot of moving parts that I have nothing to do with. But it was a really great experience for me. It was also nice to sit back and have someone else take care of some of the non-artistic aspects.
The music video itself came together really quickly. It was pretty crazy actually, because we had to change location about one week before the shoot date, and I found my wardrobe stylist five days before the shoot date through an Uber ride. So there was a lot of last-minute scrambling, but it all turned out amazing.
The music video for the album’s first single, ‘Play Me’ (released early this year), was directed by Chris Corner; what was it like working with Chris on this project?
It was incredible to be able to work with Chris because he is one of my favorite musical artists (IAMX). He is really creative, so there were a few elements of the video that were totally improvised on set, such as the bathtub scenes. I think we all had a lot of fun making that video. As a fan, it was super validating to hear Chris tell me that I’m a great performer!
Who are your biggest musical influences? How do the styles, sounds, and textures of these artists/producers find their way into your original recordings?
I always like describe my music as Nine Inch Nails meets Imogen Heap, since those are two artists that I do take a lot of influence from in many different ways. I love how both of them create all of their own music pretty much from start to finish, which is what I do. I love some of the interesting sounds that Trent Reznor comes up with, and I think you can hear that on tracks like “The Search”. Imogen’s vocals always sound amazing to me. She also puts a lot into her songwriting, which I like to do as well. Other influences include BT, deadmau5, Radiohead, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple… and probably a million others that I can’t name because the list would be way too long.
Could you tell us about some of your most exciting or interesting live performances to date?
They’re all exciting and interesting! Hard to say. I like performing for charity events because it’s for a good cause. My last charity show was at “The Joint” to raise money for Education Through Music LA. I played with Ian Charlie and Gabriel Nava Rodrigues from Walla before I found my own dedicated band members (Jesica Yap and Pete Sabramowicz), so it was a bit of an introduction to the shows I play now.
What do the remaining months of 2014 hold in store for Eleri? Do you have any upcoming performances or tour dates scheduled for early 2015?
I’ll be doing an “I Need The Chase” Music Video Release Show early next month in Los Angeles, but the date and venue are not set in stone yet. I’ll also be competing in the 2015 Artists In Music Awards, so there are some tentative show dates to look out for around that as well. I’ll be doing my album release show in February. Keep updated on the latest show dates by signing up for my mailing list at www.elerimusic.com and click on “Join Mailing List”. If you enter your ZIP code, you’ll get the most relevant show updates based on location.
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