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ELOHIM FUSES STYLES WHILE RAISING AWARENESS OF MENTAL HEALTH

October 29, 2019

Read the full interview on LAWeekly.com!

Elohim’s music genre on Apple Music reads “Electronic,” but her music transcends multiple styles. For one, it’s a hypnotic fusion of sounds, keys, vocals and production you’ve probably never encountered before. Her ability to unleash incredible pop-friendly records while shutting down stages and festivals across the world and still advocating for mental health is quite impressive.

It’s not everyday you meet an artist who can produce, sing, play the keys, and unleash vulnerable, honest records for audiences to relate. Her aura exudes warmth, positivity, and strength — three things we immediately felt upon meeting. Pulling up to her go-to studio in Santa Monica, our initial meeting felt like we were catching up with an old friend.

Elohim rocks a tiny “x” symbol right underneath her left eye, a mark she’s been putting on her face for four years straight. While she’s hesitant to make it permanent, she explains “This is as silly as eyelashes, something to put on that’s the final thing you put on before you walk out the door. It’s like ‘alright, I’m a fuckin’ bad ass.’”

Confidence is not something that comes easy for Elohim, who has struggled with anxiety and panic attacks her entire life. In fact just last year, she finally revealed her face and identity to her ever-growing fanbase. When it comes to the music, she’s able to live out her purpose in giving back and serve as a role model to those suffering with mental health issues — you too can live a life free of these fears.

In May of this year, her concept album BRAINDEAD arrived during Mental Health Awareness Month, with all proceeds during that month donated to mental health organizations. The album recounts her own personal journey through mental health and overcoming obstacles that she can hardly believe are happening herself.

In addition to working with everyone from Marshmello to Skrillex to Wiz Khalifa, it’s Elohim’s live shows that fans cherish most — unleashing this monster inside of her to just rage and deliver cinematic performances. Her stance on life ultimately equates to love, explaining her tattoo of “I love you” in sign language on her arm. She even recalls good times getting tatted with Skrillex at the studio from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.

L.A. Weekly caught up with Elohim to discuss her own experiences with mental health, why it’s important to give back, being friends with her supporters, and her highly-anticipated festival sets.

 

L.A. WEEKLY: Your lane is so unique, how would you describe your sound?

ELOHIM: It definitely leans electronic — I sort of got invited into this EDM world. There were fans in that world and they embraced me. It’s been a really awesome blessing because it wasn’t anticipated, I just thought I’m more alternative. The EDM lane is so cool because the crowds are amazing, they love music. It’s cool to be the only female artist out there that’s playing and singing, not DJing. Everyone else getting on the stage is all DJs.

Playing Sahara [at Coachella] was mostly all DJs. But I get up and I’m playing keyboards, singing, running around dancing. So it’s electronic alternative. I love alternative music. I grew up playing classical piano, that’s my life so that plays a role in some weird way, maybe melodically. Not knowing the genre can be challenging for the standard play-listing, but I love that. I love having this own lane. The music’s very much “put this on and I hope it’ll help you get through your panic attack” or “help you calm down from anxiety.”

I suffer from depression and anxiety as well. What does it mean to give back in that space?

You do? I’m sorry. It’s awful. To me, giving back in a really authentic and honest way and sharing my story. Brutally, honestly, and the not pretty parts of it. I can seemingly be happy and having this great time, all of a sudden something triggers it. And [snaps], I fall apart. My tour manager actually watched me go through it for the first time. Once I came out of it, we could talk about it but while I was in it, you can’t even talk to me. I’m a different person.

He’s like, “Honestly, I’ve never seen anybody go through anything like that. Now I look at mental health so differently.” Because people don’t know. If you’ve not experienced it firsthand or seen somebody go through it, you really can’t understand. It’s like “No, you’re fine.”

I had a bad day the other day and people were like “what?”

Exactly. Giving back has been so rewarding for me personally because kids say “you’ve saved me from this, you helped me get through this.” I’m like, “you’ve saved me!” My whole life, I never knew anybody who suffered the way that I do. I was the weird one to my family and my friends didn’t understand. “You’re fine, you’re a normal person.” Yeah I am, but I suffer from something that you can’t understand.

I’ve become genuine friends with the fans of my music. Genuinely, like we text actually on my real phone number. We talk all the time. Say one of us is going through a panic attack or a hard time, it’s this awesome mini-community. It’s really saved me, that’s what I’m grateful for. I’m also so grateful to have helped people in any way at all, that’s the best feeling ever.

What exactly happened on tour? What triggered it?

It’s happened a few times on tour. Actually the two-month summer tour was the first tour where I didn’t have a significant episode of anxiety. For me, that’s a huge accomplishment. I don’t care if nothing else happens, that’s crazy. I’m so proud of myself and just grateful it didn’t happen, because you never know when it’s going to happen.

This other tour was my first bus tour, I fell asleep on the bus. I woke up maybe an hour in and had that pounding heart. My anxiety very much turns into nausea and actually throwing up. Not even anxiety, but straight up panic. So my heart’s beating really fast, the bus is moving, it’s rocking a bit. I’m trapped in this little bunk, my first time doing it. I felt really nauseous, like “No, you’re just freaking yourself out. You’ll be fine.” Trying to talk yourself off the ledge.

I always keep a plastic bag with me in my backpack or my bunk in case I’m going to throw up, it’s my safety net. I’m like “I’m fine,” then I’m like “Whoa, I’m gonna puke.” I grab the bag and start throwing up into it, then Chase’s bunk was right above mine. I open his thing like “Help me please.” We go into the front lounge, I’m throwing up into a trash can. That was the beginning of it.

Nothing triggered it per se?

Just a fully new environment that I wasn’t used to, that lasted for four days. I’d go to my hotel and lay in bed all day, basically shaking like the cold sweats. I wasn’t sick, it’d be easy to be like “I got the flu!” or a stomach bug. You know you’re not sick because after the show, you come out of it. Then I’d wake up and it’d be back.

That’s the worst one I’ve ever been through. A lot of walking towards the door of my room: “OK, I’ma make it one foot out. I’m going to leave the room this time.” Get to the door and nope! Run to the bathroom and start throwing up. It was horrible. It’s really hard on tour because being around people all the time, that energy. A lot of people I’ve noticed with anxiety and those hypersensitive feelings are empaths, they pick up on the energy of other people so that’s hard too. It’s embarrassing, straight up. To be an adult throwing up, that’s embarrassing. My anxiety goes to a childish place, like I want my mommy. It’s so weird.

How has music saved you in those moments or in general?

The best part of those days was when I’d actually get on stage. I’d go through this whole day of panic, then I’d finally get on stage — the one moment I didn’t feel the anxiety and panic. I felt free. It’s definitely saved me. I learned a lot because on that exact tour, I had this realization of letting go and performing. I still get nervous, but it’s different now. I get excited because the stage became a place like “oh!” My time on stage is my time for all my demons to come out and for me to be free for a minute. It’s crazy, I really learned so much. I haven’t had a severe moment like that since May 2018, so a little over a year.

At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?

People started to listen but there was a depth to it and a depth to the listener. Like “wow, I relate to these people a lot more than I ever knew I could.” I learned a lot about myself from that. Once I really started touring, the live show are such a big part of what I do. It took me awhile though to feel “this is my life and this is what I’m doing.” I got that confidence the more I did it.

You were anonymous prior, how’d it feel to reveal your identity?

I choose to still be somewhat anonymous. I started this project… I was very scared to show my face, use my real speaking voice. I wanted people to hear the music. I know that’s a common thing that people say in anonymity but genuinely, I felt there was a bigger purpose than “here’s this girl, and here’s her face, here’s her voice.”

I was scared too. I suffer from crazy anxiety and anxiety comes from fear: the fear of being judged, you’re not pretty enough. Now being able to speak, I have a story to tell which is really cool, I didn’t have that at the beginning. It’s nice to now unveil a little at a time and be able to tell the story of now having the courage to be able to do that. Without even saying that narrative, people picked up on it. They’re like “oh my gosh, it’s so crazy to see. Look at this video from the first thing she ever put out, look at her now.”

What were your videos like back then?

Oh my gosh, I just found an article of my first show ever which was in San Francisco. It’s so crazy because I’ll see videos, my hair’s like this [covers face with hair]. I’m playing keys with my hood on, not really moving. Now, I’m running around stage and letting go. It’s cool people picked up on that without me having to say it. They’re like “wow, it’s so inspiring to see this girl go from not talking, being so shy and barely showing her face, to now blossoming into this being.” Just me as a human, I’ve grown so much. It’s the most rewarding thing ever. Suffering from anxiety and depression, it can take over your whole life.

What advice do you have for someone who’s struggling?

The advice I have is to remember that you’re not alone. It’s such a simple statement but it can go so far. Going through that stuff, you feel so alienated and alone. When I’m going through it, “there’s no way anyone else in the world has ever felt what I’m going through right now.” There’s no way, it’s too crazy.

That’s why I always felt alone, why I say the listeners saved me. Because I never was ever able to compare panic attack stories with anyone in my life. Now comparing a panic attack story, we’re so similar. Or if I’m going through something and I have someone I can reach out to, it brings us together. Say I’m at the airport, I’m freaking out, dry heaving, that friend’s there saying “you’re OK, it’s okay.” The biggest thing is knowing you’re not alone and finding a community that you can talk openly with. Friends who are there to listen and understand, who will be there no matter what.

I have other artists that now, people I don’t even know, DM like “hey I didn’t know who else to come to but I know you go through this and are really open about it. What do I do?” Don’t be afraid to get help. I started medication.

What medication?

I take one called Lexapro. Antidepressant, a big one they prescribe to people with panic and anxiety. It’s helped me a lot. Then I always have a little bit of Xanax just in case of an emergency, but that’s last resort for me.

Are you OK on flights and stuff?

Now I am, yeah. Ever since I started Lexapro… I was terrified to start it. Growing up, my parents barely gave us Tylenol when we were sick. They never got us vaccines, never took antibiotics, nothing. So imagine me “OK, now I’m going to go on a whole life-altering medication.” But once I opened up about it, so many people were like “oh, I’m on that too.” I realized it’s not that big of a deal.

I talked through it a lot with my therapist because I was so nervous to start. “Is it going to change me for the worst? Am I going to still be able to write music? Is it bad for my body?” She said “why would you not take something if you can live this one life more pleasantly? Go through every day and not suffer. You’re putting yourself through this right now when there’s literally this medication that can help you, this medication is made for people like you.”

How often do you go to therapy?

I was going once a week. When things were bad, I’d go twice a week but it’s really expensive. That’s a hard thing too, you want to go to your therapist. I’ve bonded so heavily with my therapist. She knows things I’ve never told anyone in my entire life but she’s really, really expensive.

I feel you! There has to be more solutions.

I tried to give back in that way. I had a therapist come here, paid him for his time and offered the services to fans online so they could be on this live chat and he’d answer questions. It was really cool, I want to do it again. Last week, I spoke at Spotify for World Mental Health Day. The same therapist who works in the industry went to Spotify and I played two acoustic songs for them. We did a Q&A, he asked me questions about mental health and how I deal with it in front of the Spotify staff, it was amazing.

I was really honored, it’s so crazy we’re sitting here in a corporate office talking about mental health. That’s amazing, it needs to happen. People are suffering and they don’t feel they have their resources — therapy alone. I honestly think offices should offer therapy, record labels as well for their artists. Record labels for the most part don’t even offer their artists health insurance. If you run out of your advance, what do you do? You can’t even afford health insurance and you’re stuck in this record deal.

You just unleashed the visual for “Running.” Who pissed you off?

No one. Probably myself. Even if it seems like a love thing or a breakup, a lot of times I’m talking to myself and just feeling frustrated with my own mind. I always feel like I’m the one holding myself back.

What does the ‘x’ under your eye symbolize?

When I started Elohim, I was in a really, really low place. Felt like I had nothing. I felt super, super insecure. I’d never be somebody’s dream girl, I didn’t know if I could ever do this. I was in a bad place. Creating this project, this story and this being, gave me a new life and a new love for myself. A new confidence, which I didn’t have. It’s really scary going through life and not having that.

Talk about actually crying on your single “Why Am I Like This.”

I actually had a show in San Francisco years ago, I was sitting in the hotel and a very similar panic attack. I did the show, got back and went in the booth. There was this track with these really beautiful strings, I wasn’t sure what I was going to use it for yet. The song’s sort of an interlude, the first song on my first full-length album. I’m actually hysterically crying, it was right when I got home from that show in SF. One of my best friends Danny was engineering, I’m like “let me just go in the booth.” I didn’t know what was going to happen, it literally gives me chills.

I was so frustrated with myself. Finally I feel better, then all of a sudden you have a setback and it feels like the end of the world. It’s important to remind yourself that even if you do have setback or a panic attack and you’ve been doing so well, you’re human and that’s OK. We’re like “oh my gosh, I’m so crazy. This doesn’t happen to anyone else, why am I like this?” That one was crazy, I was hysterical. Afterwards I’m like “is it going to be awkward when I walk back into the room?” He’s just in there not talking and I’ve been in the booth sobbing.

 

You’ve sold out three dates at Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever. What goes into your live performances?

It’s amazing, still. I’m like “really? No…” The day of the show: “Is anyone going to be here?” All tickets are sold! Someone in my family probably bought them [chuckles]. It’s crazy honestly, the L.A. fanbase is amazing. Those shows in particular was my first time ever doing stripped down versions of my songs. “Sleepy Eyes” has this drop in it so the strings would be playing the drop. Four string players and me on a grand piano. I was wearing this beautiful white ball gown and we made it feel a little bit spooky but fun. A lot of people flew out from other places and went to all three shows, it was so cool. But L.A.’s definitely hometown, you always get more nerves but it’s always so amazing. For me, it’s hometown. Hometown shows are always cool. Some radio stations like Alt Nation have played my stuff so L.A. is just a cool feeling.

Favorite song to drop in a set?

Right now, it’s “Buckets” because I just go crazy. The crowd gets really excited about it, it’s so cool. It’s fun, I like all of them. That one hasn’t been in my set for too long but it’s so fun because I get to scream and fall on the ground.

What are you most excited for with Hard Day of the Dead approaching?

I really love my festival set right now so I’m just really excited to perform. Hometown is always so fun. I’m wondering if people will be dressed up for Halloween.

Probably! What’s different about your festival sets?

I try to keep it up the whole time because at a festival, you’re really there to have a good time. You’re standing, you want to dance. There are still the heavy moments within that, but keeping it fun and lighthearted for people. When I do my proper headlining tour next year, it’ll be really cool to have moments of the electronic side and the broken down side. This year was the first time I ever performed broken down completely and it gave me a new confidence too, I was always scared to do that. Just have the whole show be an experience that you can get lost in.

What are you going to dress up as?

I don’t know! I was thinking an angel.

Anything else you want to let us know?

I’m putting out a live album in November, right after Hard actually. Announcing a tour. I haven’t told anybody. The acoustic shows we did at the cemetery, we recorded every night and put together a really cool live album. It’s going to be completely different from any sound. People who were there will be able to relive it and have that beautiful moment but people who weren’t there, it’ll be like nothing they’ve ever heard. It’s definitely a side of me I’m ready for people to hear and I want people to know that I grew up playing — people think I’m a DJ. I don’t deejay. I’m going to sit at a piano and sing and play. If that’s not enough, I don’t know what is. That’s coming out in November, I’m so excited.

Elohim performs HARD Day of the Dead at Los Angeles Historic Park on November 2nd.

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