We caught up with Elohim after her emotional set at HARD Summer to talk about artistic growth and her latest project Journey to the Center of Myself.
Elohim delivers an unforgettable and unique experience whenever and wherever she graces the stage. Known for singing, playing piano, and making beats live, while also dancing and hyping up the crowd (yes, at the same time), her sets are unlike any other. She does it all and never misses a beat, so when she was announced to play HARD Summer this year it quickly became a can’t-miss set of the weekend.
While attending her performance, one thing was clear – the Elohim we saw on stage was quite different than the one from years past. Having begun her musical career enigmatically by obscuring her face and hiding her identity, she was now glowing on stage, even using her full face in visuals on the big screen. The tightly-knit community she’s created had become a safe space — not just for us, but for her, too. It warmed hearts and allowed the crowd to connect with her and her music on a whole new level.
Beyond her beats, Elohim is an advocate for mental health both through her music and her daily life, and has helped countless people through hard times. Now, we’re being inspired by her own growth journey as well as her music. In fact, she’s taking us with her on this growth journey quite literally with her latest project called Journey to the Center of Myself, comprised of four different EPs. The first installment was released this past June and includes uplifting, empowering tracks “Nice” and “I Am the Greatest,” and we can look forward to the next three volumes throughout the rest of the year.
After soaking in the sounds of her new music and some classics at her set, we sat down with Elohim to talk about her growth as an artist, getting back on the road for shows, her passion for supporting mental wellness in the youth, and her upcoming projects. So check out Journey to the Center of Myself, Vol. 1 on Spotify, and read on for the conversation!
Stream Elohim – Journey to the Center of Myself, Vol. 1 on Spotify:
Jessica: Hi Elohim, thanks for chatting with us here at HARD Summer. You just came from Lollapalooza, how does it feel to be back on the road and doing shows?
Elohim: It’s been insane. It was actually quite a struggle for me because I suffer from severe anxiety, dissociation, and panic. And I didn’t even realize how bad it was gonna be when I got back because I had worked so hard to be okay, you know, getting on airplanes, getting on stage, being around people. It took me a lot of work and different things, and a lot of therapy. So this was definitely a challenge this past weekend, but also incredible, like my show was sold out in Chicago and Lollapalooza was packed, it was insane. And HARD is amazing. So I’m feeling really good. I think it just took doing a few shows to feel like I’m back.
This was also my first flight in a year and a half since I had to fly to Chicago. I think our bodies are just so used to being home, so it’s really weird, but I’m super grateful to be around.
Hannah: Did you notice any big differences in the crowds between Lollapalooza and here at HARD Summer?
E: Oh my gosh, yes. Well here, it’s such an electronic music festival, and sometimes with my set and my music, there’s a lot more within the music, than just straight ahead EDM. And as an artist, I want to make all kinds of music and it’s hard to kind of stick to one lane. And, you know, I love making weird songs, I love pop music and I also love dance music, so it’s kind of a combination, but the crowd here was amazing as well.
Lollapalooza is just crazy because it’s more compact. I think this is more spread out so well. It’s so interesting because it’s in the middle of the city. And I’ve never really been to another festival that’s like that – you’re actually just in the middle of Chicago. And it’s so weird, but it’s awesome.
J: That’s really cool. That must have been a crazy experience. And congrats on your new project Journey to the Center Myself. I loved watching you play “Nice” up there on stage. We’re excited to see the next three installments later this year. Can you tell me a little bit about what this project means to you, and what we have to look forward to?
E: So the whole project is this journey to the center of myself, and it’s been such a crazy journey. I kind of feel like I got to a place, especially in my music-making, where I feel the most confident I ever have in what I’m making and creating. I’m most excited about the last installment, the fourth volume. I made it in quarantine, 100% by myself, in my bedroom. And this will be the first full project that I did completely alone and it’s totally weird. It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever made, and I feel really proud of it. And it’s kind of like the final installment. It’s like, actually the center of me, because I was alone in my bedroom, for a year!
H: It’s also cool that you’re playing Red Rocks with Alison Wonderland soon. We love that you’re both so open to showing your emotions in your songs, and how your songs really strike a chord with people. How did you two connect? And are you really excited about the show?
E: Yes! Oh my gosh, okay, so we met because I did a tour with her. And it was actually just me and her on the tour, she was headlining, I was opening. It was, I think a two-month tour back in 2016 I want to say, and we met and we just became instant friends. And she’s one of my best friends in the entire world. It’s really awesome to have another person, especially female, in music that goes through similar things that I go through, like traveling, being around a bunch of dudes, making electronic music. It’s really cool to be able to connect on that and really understand each other. I haven’t really ever had a best friend that was also doing music and in a similar genre. And so I’m so excited, of course. It’s just nice to be able to have each other’s backs. Friendship is everything.
J: How would you describe how it feels to somewhat separate your personal life from “Elohim”? I can imagine it feels good to compartmentalize your art and your personality. As you’ve gotten to perform more and more, and you’re saying you’re the most confident you’ve ever been with your music, do you notice any changes in the relationship between you and Elohim? Are those lines blurring a little bit more? Or do you still have that separation?
E: That’s a really cool question. There are moments when I need the separation, but I don’t want the separation. This tattoo actually is a woman, who kind of has her shoulders back. These are the boobs and then the head.
For me, Elohim is the strongest version of myself, I feel like the strongest, most badass me when I’m on stage. Getting to the point of being on stage, like getting from point A to point B, point B being the stage, is really challenging for me, because it’s weird, I think as an artist, you leave the stage and you’re like, “who am I?” as if you’re still stuck with yourself, especially this last year and a half, you’re stuck in your house alone.
So, it’s really interesting, I want to be her, I aspire to be Elohim. And it makes me really emotional because she is everything I want to be and sometimes I’ll look at photos or videos of me on stage, and I’m like, I want to be her! And I had that experience for the first time, actually, during the whole quarantine, I did a lot of live streams. And I did a full-set live stream, and I got to watch it back – and usually, I don’t get to see myself perform. And then we’re watching and being like, wow, I want to be her. And so there is that separation, and I kind of want to try to just always be her, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to. But she inspires me and I aspire to be her, and I am her, so it’s weird.
H: As you’ve gotten to perform more and more, and grow your amazing compassionate community, has that affected the relationship you have to Elohim?
E: That has changed, and also the relationship with the fans has changed because I’ve opened up a lot more. So it’s been really cool to see their reaction to that without me saying “this is the narrative,” them picking it up, and saying wow, I’ve seen you go from covering your face and not wanting to speak and kind of shy on stage to this extroverted person on stage and showing your face and being really confident, people are like “that’s inspired me.” So yeah, all of it has changed so much and it’s really cool to see other people being inspired by that.
H: It’s definitely been awesome seeing you grow in your career. The first time I saw you, you opened up for Louis the Child, and I remember seeing on stage, you were covering half your face, and seeing you now it’s just so different.
J: Yeah, your face was even in your visuals tonight on stage, so cool to see! For many people, anxiety and panic attacks cause a kind of paralysis and inaction. For someone who takes massive action in the face of those feelings, how would you describe switching your brain into a creative mode where you can turn those emotions into something beautiful?
E: I mean, just two days ago, I was in my hotel in Chicago alone, having a total meltdown panic attack, and I felt like I couldn’t do the show. I need to quit everything. I can’t do this anymore. And I was really really bad, and I grabbed my phone and I started singing these words and lyrics into it, and it comforted me.
If I’m struggling, sometimes I’ll just touch my piano and it’ll instantly give me some relief. And it’s so hard to find that relief, especially when you’re on the road and you’re having a panic attack, and you have to be up on stage in two minutes! And that just happened to me at my headline show, I was throwing up and having a full-on panic attack, and my manager was sitting with me on the bathroom floor holding me because I was shaking uncontrollably. I was already two minutes late to be on stage, and it’s my headlining show and everyone’s waiting for me!
So it’s weird. It’s hard. But it’s funny because as soon as I get on stage, I click in. And so even just as simple as touching a piano or singing a voice note into my phone, music really is medicine. And it saved me to create it. And it’s really awesome to hear people say that listening to the music has saved them.
H: The last question we have for you is, you’re currently working with the JED Foundation, which is amazing. What drew you to that nonprofit, specifically? And how has your experience been working with them?
E: Another great question! So the JED Foundation, I was actually introduced to that by someone sending different organizations, and I really wanted to take the next step, not just talk about it, I wanted to actually do something and get involved.
Someone had sent me a bunch of names, and I happened to be in New York and had a call with them. I was on tour, and I had a day off, and they said, we actually have a gala tonight if you want to come! So I went to the gala and I was just in tears. I was so moved by the entire experience, it was so beautiful. It was amazing to see people who’ve dedicated their entire lives to doing this.
What really struck a chord with me is they’re very involved in the youth. They go into colleges and meet with the janitor and with the RA’s. They talk to them and they kind of do training for them, make sure the rooms are safe, and there’s nothing that anyone could hurt themselves with.
I thought that was really special that they were really involved with the youth and kind of breaking that stigma, with college-aged people. It’s really tough and I think a lot of people feel really alone. So the fact that they were very involved in the youth really, really inspired me, and they’re just the sweetest, most amazing people. And then I put out a project called ‘Braindead’ and I donated all the proceeds from the streams for that project to the JED Foundation.