Interview: Burgeoning Electronic Songstress Elohim Takes a Journey to Herself
It’s been three years since the buzzy young LA electronic artist Elohim‘s self-titled debut album made the Top 20 on the US dance charts, producing both the viscerally iconoclastic single ‘Sleepy Eyes’, and the shimmering pop gem ‘Half Love.’
Since that time, she’s been open about struggling through sometimes crippling mental health problems, releasing the tellingly titled track ‘Group Therapy’ in early 2020, and launching a tour of the same name. When the lockdowns forced her to cancel the remaining dates, however, she recorded another single titled ‘I’m Lost’. But she ultimately then embarked on a sprawling musical and spiritual exploration, which is now playing out in four distinct parts; and indeed, Journey to the Center of Myself is exactly what it says it is, Elohim taking a trip into herself, and ostensibly coming out with some of the answers to her most urgent questions about Elohim.
To be sure, on ‘Treat You Better’ she is bravely confronting her demons head on (“Lost my thoughts when my brain walked out the door / She said, ‘You’re way too crazy, don’t deserve me anymore'”) and openly admitting her own faults. But then on the instant dancefloor classic ‘Strut’ – a collab with Big Freedia, included on Vol. I – she’s never sounded so sure of herself. (“Fuck the Hilton, It’s the Waldorf / Fuck the Waldorf, It’s the Montage” – Yeah!)
And speaking of confidence, she was at last back onstage in recent months for both Lollapalooza and Hard Summer, giving every indication that she is overcoming whatever stresses and anxieties the coronavirus crisis had to throw at her.
With of Journey to the Center of Myself Vol. 2 having just been released (Vol. 3 is due November 19), we caught up with a newly determined Elohim to better understand just how she got here, and just where it’s all taking her.
Your new musical “series” is called Journey to the Center of Myself. What is that journey all about?
The journey throughout this series is really about my own personal self discovery. A lot of struggles, celebrations, confusion, etc. I go through what most humans can relate to, we are all trying to figure out the best way to navigate ourselves, our friends and our time on this earth. I just happen to write about it and share it so that I can be a voice of reason or compassion or empathy to the listener.
Did the pandemic conditions help or hinder that journey?
I would say it both hindered and expanded/helped my journey. There is so much music I created during this pandemic that I would have never made otherwise. It felt like I had endless time and was completely free to make music, because we didn’t know what would happen or if we would ever make it out of this thing, and go back to live shows or normal life ever again. I got a deeper look into myself. I produced the fourth volume alone in my bedroom in complete isolation, and to this day it is one of my most prized pieces of work. There are some silver linings for my story within this tragic last year-and-a-half.
Why was it conceptualized in four parts?
I had made so much music and my incredible team wanted me to be able to share all of it. This seemed like the best way to compartmentalize and group together the songs that range from heartache to love to passion to hurt to self acceptance to power and on and on.
With ‘Treat You Better’ you seem to be admitting your shortcomings – is songwriting a way of working such things through?
Absolutely! Songwriting is my place to get the demons out. I have gone into a day of writing completely depressed and come out of it feeling refreshed and new. It is a way for me to face myself and be honest. It’s like therapy for me, and the best and most rewarding part is that I get to share that and hopefully help others feel understood.
Are you okay with elaborating on your mental health struggles?
Yes, of course. I am forever open to this dialogue because I feel it hasn’t been discussed in a real enough way yet. For me, any day I can be triggered by my dissociation, panic and severe anxiety disorder. I do not use these words lightly, as when I fall into an episode it is often hard to get out without medication. I have been in intense trauma therapy and have been taking medication for over three years. Unfortunately the medication does not make me superwoman and I still struggle a lot. When I’m falling I shake, I throw up and often lose touch with reality. It is very serious, yet if you met me not in the midst of an episode you’d not believe that I had this disorder. Mental health doesn’t have a face or a cast for a broken bone. Oftentimes humans are struggling while trying to maintain a normal life and hiding behind a fake facade. I feel it is my purpose here to openly speak about my struggles to hopefully help someone with theirs. At the end of the day we are all human and we all need to have compassion and empathy for our fellow humans.
‘Strut’ has a great retro club music feel to it. What were some of the things influencing you musically while you were writing and recording Journey…?
Every volume is very different. Volume 1 with ‘Strut’ was so much about embracing who I am and walking through life with confidence. I love making emotional music but I also love making fun music and dancing in the studio, laughing and having the best time.
How did you end up connecting with Big Freedia?
Freedia is incredible and I wanted her on the song so badly! She embodies what it is to own who you are and walk down the street like it’s a runway. My team reached out to her team and she was instantly down – sometimes it’s as easy as that.
What do you hope people take away from listening to Journey to the Center of Myself?
Self love, self acceptance, empathy, strength, emotion…and magic!