Elsie and The Vibe
Beyond the move from Melbourne, Australia to Brooklyn, New York, it’s been a journey full of stories for Elsie – the powerful singer/songwriter behind the soul pop project, Elsie and The Vibe. Combining modern R&B with throwback pop sensibilities, this funky sound emerges out of the existing pack of NYC soul artists, and it’s likely Elsie’s past battles that have helped develop this real and grounded…vibe. Elsie, who survived a battle with cancer at the age of 18, and has gone through surgery on her most important instrument – her vocal nodules – is currently blowing PEV away with a single that recounts that cancer battle; a tune titled “Riverside”.
The song is off of Elsie’s self-titled debut EP, and we couldn’t wait to learn more about it. Elsie told us, “The five tracks on the upcoming EP were written over a long period of time. I chose to record them because they were the ones that felt the most relevant to me when I began the recording process almost three years ago. I think the EP reflects my personal journey and beliefs really well – it sends a strong message of empowerment and strength through vulnerability. The music also incorporates my influences spanning from more Motown sounding tracks to modern RnB and pop.” Click to https://www.
XXQs: Elsie and The Vibe
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from others in your genre?
Elsie and The Vibe (Elsie): If you threw soul, pop and RnB into a giant pot, added some sixties flavoring and seasoned with the energy of funk-master musicians, you’d get Elsie and The Vibe. The second part of the question, “what makes me different?” is a tricky one to answer, but I like to think that my work is authentic, honest and has integrity. I’ve also had the privilege to record and perform with amazing musicians that lifted my work to another level entirely. I know that might not differentiate me from other musicians in my genre, as there are so many others that have and are achieving this…I guess it’s more something that I think is important and I value. I didn’t really answer the question, did I?!
PEV: Melbourne, Australia-born and now Brooklyn-based, what kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
Elsie: I was always into RnB music, pop music and ballads (I’m just a sucker for them). More specifically, I always loved music that involved layers of harmonies, choirs, giant choruses and women with powerful voices – the kind of voices that can cut through any space and deliver their message in an inescapable way. The first concert I went to was a Kylie Minogue concert – Australian icon and for good reason!
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started? What was your first show like?
Elsie: I still feel like I am in exactly that place, trying to break into the music scene. However, when I compare where I am now to where I was seven years ago (when I sung in public for the first time), I’ve come leaps and bounds. My first show was one of the scariest things I have ever done! Singing in public for the first time absolutely terrified me – but it was also one of my proudest moments.
Elsie: I really love creating a show that is a full band experience, where all the musicians on stage are featured in some way and are contributing to the energy of the show. I also love to cover original songs in a new way and make them sound closer to how I would have written and arranged them. Also, fans can expect fun!
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?
Elsie: I remind myself to be present, to relax and to trust myself. That last part is probably the most important part – I’ve had a lot of health issues including having surgery on vocal nodules, and so the trust I have in my own body can sometimes be quite low. It’s so important for me to remember that I am okay, that my voice is healthy and strong, and that I am healthy and strong…because when I trust in that, I can really lose myself in the music.
PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?
Elsie: I think for me the best and the worst parts are the same – being vulnerable and showing people my truth. It enables the creation of a truly unique sense of connection. The combination of creating music and singing is also one of the best feelings in the world to me.
PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music?
Elsie: I started writing songs because I had to. It was something I started doing when I was about 14 as it was the best way for me to deal with whatever was going on in my life. It has always been a therapeutic exercise for me and has been the best way for me to express myself. As I got older and more aware of the world around me, my music became observational as well as introverted.
My music sounds the way it does because when I am writing, melodies and lyrics become linked as soon as the words are put next to each other. They kind of come out at the same time, and I have found that if I try to separate them I can never quite work out how to fit the two together…so in summary of this rambling paragraph, the underlying inspiration for my music is my experience of the world in the way that it organically sounds in my mind!
PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
Elsie: I should do so more! When you’re trying to break into the industry, it’s so easy to be constantly looking forward at where you need to get to next, instead of back at how far you’ve come. So thanks for the reminder! I’ve done some cool stuff!
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
Elsie: It took me a while to pursue a career in music. I’ve studied a Bachelor of Law (but didn’t finish it), then got my degree in Biomedicine. After that I went on to get a degree in Music Composition as well as a degree in Primary Teaching (same thing as an elementary teacher in the US). I absolutely love working with kids, and in particular kids from varied backgrounds and those that require more individualized attention. I have been teaching part-time on and off while I play music.
Elsie: Hmmmm I try a lot of different things. Sometimes I’ll try to just sit down and force myself to write, sometimes I’ll try to write with a different instrument, sometimes I’ll try to just write freehand and see where my mind is that day, or I might play someone else’s music for inspiration.
PEV: How do you think the industry has changed since you first started out?
Elsie: I honestly don’t know because I don’t feel like I have been in the industry very long!
PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, an upcoming self-titled debut EP featuring the single, “Riverside”? What was the writing process like for this work?
Elsie: The five tracks on the upcoming EP were written over a long period of time. I chose to record them because they were the ones that felt the most relevant to me when I began the recording process almost three years ago. I think the EP reflects my personal journey and beliefs really well – it sends a strong message of empowerment and strength through vulnerability. The music also incorporates my influences spanning from more Motown sounding tracks to modern RnB and pop.
PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
Elsie: Ooooh that’s a fun question! So many places! Honestly I’d love to spend time in the more rural areas of Australia.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
Elsie: I think initially everyone thought a music career might be something I’d have a go at and then move on. But the more music that I play, the more live shows I see and the more musicians I meet and jam with, the stronger my desire to keep doing this becomes. I think that has also become very obvious to the people around me, and I am so incredibly lucky to have their full support. They have provided me with such an amazing level of encouragement and are genuinely proud of what I am doing.
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
Elsie: I’ve been in NYC for the last year, and the amazing thing about the city is that there is the opportunity to participate in jams or open mics every night, or to go see live music. Outside of that, I like to just chill with friends, explore the city or stay home with a good TV series and some food delivery. I also try to involve myself in community centered activities and programs.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?
Elsie: Oh my gosh it would be so hard to just choose one! I’ll go with Stevie Wonder – his music is genius and has had a huge influence on me as a musician.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
Elsie: I have found that NYC is overflowing with talented people, I’m confused as to how they all fit into the city and aren’t already known to the entire world! I put together and host a Music Showcase at Bluestone Lane (a group of US-based Australian cafes) and we’ve had some incredible artists play there. I’d say definitely look out for Kerry Blu (@Kblumusic), Carla G. (@carlagmusic), AshtnMrtn (@Ashtnmrtn) and Alex Lemonier…just to name a few! Oh and I am obsessed with The New Review – they are a Boston based soul band that you HAVE to check out.
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what would you do for a career?
Elsie: Playing music and contributing in a positive way to society are equally important to me, so I’d definitely be doing something community focused. I’d either be working for a not-for-profit, teaching kids, or participating in politics.
PEV: So, what is next for Elsie and The Vibe?
Elsie: The sky is the limit…although, the sky is actually just a border between Earth and the beyond, so I’ll change that to saying that there is no limit, and I’ll see you in the beyond.
For more information, click to https://www.elsieandthevibe.com/.