Interview: Elohim on her debut self-titled EP.
Elohim is an entity of great mystery. Based in Los Angeles, she obscures her voice and sometimes her face to protect herself and her identity, using an English-accented automated voice to read her answers in interviews, and a tiger-face mask in many photoshoots. If this sounds somewhat gimmicky, the answer as to why Elohim employs these measures comes in her lyrics.
She is alarmingly honest on her self-titled mini-album, released earlier this year, about her struggle with anxiety. Standout track ‘Xanax’ confronts the feeling of abject terror that simple acts such as leaving the house can inflict upon sufferers. The pulsating ‘She Talks Too Much’ grapples with similar struggles in a social setting. In glorious new single, ‘Hallucinating’, Elohim appears to somewhat embrace her anxiety for the way in which it allows her to see the world.
We discussed the way in which her honesty informs her music and her interactions with fans who sympathise with her suffering, as well as how her disguised identity translates into live performance, and what the future has in store for her.
"...I am always here for anyone that needs a friend."
COUP DE MAIN: How does the experience of playing live relate to your hidden identity? Do you find there’s a juxtaposition between the mystery of your recordings, and live performance?
ELOHIM: I think the live show is an extension of what I create on record. One of the many beauties of performing live is being able to provide visual context to the sounds that are vibrating through those massive speakers. The performance becomes a 45-minute journey that we all take together. Ups and downs, noise and silence; I feel a connection to the crowd the further I unfold in front of them. I am probably the most exposed during my live show.
CDM: Do you find that your secrecy regarding your identity gives you more creative or lyrical freedom?
ELOHIM: Definitely. I feel zero boundaries. There are no distractions from my work, and creative decisions become much more clear and consistent that way. No-one knows me yet, so they aren't expecting anything - therefore it feels like my possibilities are completely endless.
CDM: We spoke to Allie X last year, and she told me that her reluctance to reveal details about her past has led to increased attempts by fans to find out about her life - the so-called Streisand Effect. Have you found or experienced anything like this?
ELOHIM: I don't know who that is, but I try not to focus on the aspect of that. My anonymity is intended to eliminate boundaries, paying any mind to those things is counterproductive to the art. No need to worry about things you cannot control. The friends I have made through my music get a pretty real version of me when we are having one-on-one conversations.
CDM: Do you ever find that discussion about your anonymity distracts from the music?
ELOHIM: Not really, I feel they go hand in hand at this point. If it wasn't that it would be something else, and I don't mind the discussion. To me it's about the music, but I understand the curiosity as well.
CDM: I’m intrigued by the release of ‘Pigments’, for which fans could go to a website and interact with your heartbeat, as it seems almost antithetical to your desire to keep your distance. What made you want to do this?
ELOHIM: We just wanted to do something different than a standard music video. Everyone can go on YouTube and press play, but are you actually engaged? We just wanted to have fun and for others to have fun with us.
CDM: Your choice of a tiger-mask is very interesting. Tigers are said to symbolise both the boldness and the need of an inner sanctuary. What made you choose the tiger-mask?
ELOHIM: The mask wasn't a choice necessarily. It seemed to fall into place in a serendipitous way panning out to represent exactly what I wanted it to. Strength, confidence, and independence.
CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
ELOHIM: A good song can be good for any number of reasons. A great song has depth and feeling. It might be the beat, the melody, or the lyrics. I have heard great instrumental songs, fully produced and written songs or complete bare bones, that are incredible. Greatness is hard to find, but when you do it's very special.
CDM: In ‘Xanax’, you sing very honestly about the feeling of having an anxiety attack. A line that really strikes me is, "Have you ever walked outside / and felt like you might throw up,” which is a very relatable feeling for many sufferers. Have you had any feedback from fans who are experiencing similar problems?
ELOHIM: Thank you! This song means a lot to me. It's crazy you picked out that line because when I wrote it, it was the most real line I had ever written in my life. My anxiety is connected with feeling sick. Something I struggle with daily. Most of the time I'll be fine and all of a sudden it hits me. Sometimes I actually start dry-heaving. It's miserable. I am thankful I was able to purge these feelings into a song that I've been able to share with others who struggle with similar issues. The response has been humbling. I am honoured to give the gift of music to beautiful people.
CDM: Do you feel that there has been progress in the way that people talk about anxiety since you started experiencing it yourself?
ELOHIM: Since I started openly singing and talking about anxiety, it seems to be more prevalent. I think that might be because I am more aware of it now and because a lot of people message me to talk about it. I am always here for anyone that needs a friend. The worst feeling is feeling alone.
CDM: Your new single ‘Hallucinating’ is fantastic. Do you think of the hallucinations you describe in the song, such as the “streets moving / rising up and meeting me” and “that painting’s staring back at me / I swear, I think its eyes just moved” as real things that you’ve experienced? Or a metaphor for the way in which we interpret the real world?
ELOHIM: Thank you! I am so happy you like it. For me, the lyrics are definitely metaphors. If I'm being completely honest, when I'm walking around or just talking to people I constantly feel like I am on drugs. Sometimes the room actually looks like it’s spinning and I lose balance having to lean on a wall. It's the oddest thing, especially when you're completely sober. I've never taken hallucinogenics. But the response from people that have, is that the song definitely embodies the feeling.
CDM: If E.L.O.H.I.M was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
ELOHIM: Elegance, Light, Omnipresence, Happiness, Individuality, Magic.
CDM: You’re currently on a North American tour supporting EDEN. Are you keen to play more shows outside the U.S.? We’d love for you to come to New Zealand!
ELOHIM: I would LOVE to go to New Zealand as well as many other places in the world. It's my dream to share my show with the world. It's a full-body experience full of many sensations. I am hoping in the very near future I will see you in New Zealand. :)
CDM: Your self-titled release earlier this year was a sort of rule-breaker - a 10-track EP (albeit with three interludes). Are you working on a full-length album?
ELOHIM: I probably have enough songs for two albums right now. I needed the EP to feel like an album. I want to keep creating. I am really looking forward to being in the studio for the month of November after being on tour for two months and before going back out on the road. Yes, I am working on an album. I think I am just always working on an album or some sort of creation. I have a few releases coming out before the full-length. I am not sure when it will come out. Most of my releases seem a bit spontaneous and I love that about them.
CDM: Lastly, what’s something on your bucket-list that you’d really like to achieve?
ELOHIM: Sold-out headlining tour.
Elohim’s self-titled EP is out now - click here to purchase.
Watch the ‘Xanax’ music video below…