Introducing Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter ELLYSA who recently premiered the music video to her powerful debut single 'Shattered'. This modern day gypsy creates music with wistful melodies and insightful lyrics that tell stories that are relatable and impactful. With a delicate voice that evokes many emotions, the singer shares a piece of herself. I got a chance to learn more about her and her story which you can read about in our interview below:
MHB: Can you introduce yourself? Where are you from? What do you do?
Ellysa: I was born in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, but I spent much of my formative years living in and traveling around the world. My family moved to Yokohama, Japan when I was just three years old, then three years later we moved to Leamington Spa, England. So, when people ask me where I am from, I usually ask if they want the short or long answer. The short answer is that I consider myself a citizen of the world.
I’m a singer/songwriter and actress living in Los Angeles. I spend all of my free time focusing on my music. Acting allows me to explore and be different characters, but with my music, I get to just be myself. I think my bio captures me as an artist when it says I use “…wistful melodies and insightful lyrics to comment on her surroundings.” and “Her unique perspective on herself and our society brings the journey of a young woman to life, becoming an escape for those who are desperately seeking a way to deal with the world around them.” Because, ultimately, that is why I do music… to connect with the world and hopefully help and inspire people.
MHB: How did music become a part of your life?
Ellysa: I started taking piano lessons when I was four, cello when I was ten, taught myself guitar at fifteen, then ukulele at seventeen. I first sang in the choir when I lived in Leamington Spa at the age of seven. So, really, music has always been a part of my life.
MHB: When was it that you realized you wanted to be a singer?
Ellysa: Wow, honestly, I have so many experiences that led me to where my music is today, but if I had to choose just one particular moment, I would have to say it was when I wrote my first song. I was 12 years old and got in a fight with my mom, and immediately after this song flowed out of me. When I played it for her, we cried and hugged and laughed and, of course, made up. It was at that moment I realized the healing power of music.
MHB: How would you describe your sound to a new listener?
Ellysa: My music is what I call edgy-folk-pop. Basically, I love the organic sounds I grew up listening to, mixed with a few samples, paired with lyrics that push the boundaries and melodies that get stuck in your head. I like to say I have the emotional expression of Ed Sheeran and the vocal styling of Florence Welch meets-Christina Perri. I like to use insightful lyrics that make a statement or grab you emotionally.
MHB: You just released your debut single 'Shattered', what can you tell me about the single? what was the inspiration behind it?
Ellysa: My new single “shattered” is a rallying cry of truth on behalf of every survivor of sexual assault. I wrote it shortly after the verdict came down in the Brock Turner case. That brought memories flooding back of my own assault when I was sixteen. The lyrics in the verses and choruses really reveal the ugly reality of being a survivor, whereas the bridge is a challenge to how we view the attacker. Writing “Shattered” was extremely cathartic for me. I don’t think any other song has felt quite as healing as writing this song did. Recording “Shattered” was not an easy process. It took two years, mostly because every time I opened the session, all the emotions from the night I was assaulted came flooding back. This is also the first song I’m releasing that I produced myself. There was a lot of trial and error in creating the full accompaniment behind the melody and lyrics, but all of the hard work was worth it as I couldn’t be prouder of the final product.
MHB: What do you want people to take away from your music and particularly this song considering what's currently going on in the world and the movements?
Ellysa: I hope the survivors who hear this song can feel less alone, and that the pain they are going through is not something they have to deal with by themselves. I hope the song can be a safe place, an outlet for them to listen to when they’re feeling down. On the other hand, I would love those who have not had to go through sexual assault to understand the reality of the pain and trauma of the repercussions assault has on the survivor for years after the actual attack.
MHB: What can we expect from you in the coming months?
Ellysa: I’m really excited to be embarking on a promo tour for “Shattered”! It’s kicking off in Milwaukee and will end in my current hometown of Los Angeles. I am also pumped to release the music video for Shattered on November 16. It’s an extremely powerful representation of women who have survived traumas unimaginable. It can’t be described in words. In early 2019, I’ll be releasing another single called “Sad Happy” so watch this space.
MHB: Which artists are you currently listening to/would recommend?
Ellysa: I’m loving Sigrid, I think her up-tempo yet out of the box pop songs are such a breath of fresh air. I also am super into Tove Styrke, especially her “Sway” EP – the melodies are so unique and catchy! Finally, I am loving the folk/Americana vibes Jade Bird is bringing to the singer-songwriter scene right now. Other artists that have inspired me would be the Beatles, Billy Joel, and definitely Carole King. I have always loved her music, but I fell in love with her story even more after recently seeing Beautiful, the musical about her life, on Broadway. Her tenacity inspires me like crazy. Growing up, I always loved Britney Spears and Hilary Duff – it may seem like they’re “just” pop stars, but their music always helped me express myself. I loved singing into my hairbrush in the mirror along to “Who’s That Girl”, a lesser known song by Hilary Duff.
MHB: Can you share one random fact about yourself?
Ellysa: I am a HUGE fan of the Beatles. My mom always says I was born in the wrong era. Along with a retro VW Van metal wall art and other special things, I have a framed photo of them on my “wall of inspiration” and own many of their records on vinyl. I’m such a Beatles fan that I took a class that revolved around them when I was at UCLA.
MHB: What does music mean to you?
Ellysa: Music is to my soul as oxygen is to my body. It serves so many purposes, but I really do believe that its healing properties are almost mystical. Whether it’s a catchy song that makes you want to get up and dance and forget about your bad day, or a song that helps you recover from a trauma or a breakup, that song is healing you in one way or another. That’s what music has done for me my whole life: it has healed me.
MHB: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Ellysa: I’d like to speak to the other women out there. Know your worth. Whatever it is you aspire to in life, own the room. Don’t let others talk down to you or try to “put you in your place”. Be proud of the knowledge you’ve worked hard to gain.
For girls or women looking to have a career in music, I’d say don’t let fear hold you back. Go for it. Also, don’t think that to be in the music industry you HAVE to be an artist. I wish someone encouraged me to focus on also building my production and technical skills when I was younger. So, get garage band or audacity or logic and just start messing around. Watch YouTube tutorials. Write songs every single day. Your dreams turn to goals when vision turns into action. You can do this!
For survivors of sexual abuse, know that you are not alone and you are not a victim. You are a SURVIVOR. You can heal. It will be hard, but you won’t be haunted by this forever.