Write because you want to, not because you have to.
Hailing from the Gold Coast, fresh artist ELSKA has broken into the music scene with her infectious sweet tunes that are all about being playful and wonderous in the Australian pop music industry.
Reintroducing the lost love for the glorious harp musical instrument, ELSKA hopes to inject a sense of charm with her combination of the harp with a loop pedal. Her music is primarily of the kind that would send her listener into a mode for road-trip and chill. With lyrics that are as soulful as they are relatable, it's no surprise to see her music quickly becoming a recurring favourite on your playlist.
Now on a journey across Australia, ELSKA is taking her album The Heart and Harp on a tour that will make you fall in love with the tunes of a harp all over again.
In anticipation of her upcoming performance at this year's Adelaide Fringe, I was fortunate enough to score an e-interview with ELSKA, with thanks to Oh Hello PR for the interview opportunity. Have a read of our exchange below:
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? ELSKA: Two years ago, I found myself stuck in the safety of a 9-to-5 job and was also navigating the responsibilities of early parenthood. I was no longer performing music and had basically given up on my creativity and dream. I realized it was a similar story to what had happened to my mum decades before. That was a real wakeup call – history repeating itself. Suddenly, I had this fire raging inside me and the burning desire to return to my calling. So, I quit my job and launched myself back into music and performing full-time. It was a massive risk to walk away from a stable job and secure paycheck (especially with a young family) and the fear of failure was huge. But, you only live once, and the biggest fear pushing me forward was actually the fear of NOT taking a chance on myself. Since then, I have made music and creativity is the central driver in my life. I have never been happier! I am a better person, wife and mother because I am doing what makes my heart happy. Living your life in alignment with your passion is extremely fulfilling. Everyone should have the freedom to dream big!
Where did the idea for the show originate? ELSKA:'The Heart and Harp Tour' was created to show audiences who I am, as a music artist. I want to give audiences a unique live music experience - to bring them right into my world, both personally and creatively. Not only will you experience a harp-like never before, but you will be taken on meander of moments of life and love, all wrapped up in my songs and visual story – which is experienced through my short music documentary 'Heart and Harp'.
What have been the challenges of combining the harp with the loop pedal? ELSKA: Initially, the loop pedal was like learning a whole new instrument in itself. It records music live, as you create it and then plays it back to you. This means it can be quite unforgiving if you press the wrong button with your feet and you record parts of the song you weren't meant to - everything can come crashing down instantly! If that happens, I just have my Adele moment and stop mid-performance, tell the audience I'm starting over and just make a joke about it. Audiences really respond to that, because it shows you are human.
Your show is about life and love; what have you found are some of the moments that your audience relates to most? ELSKA: Aspects of my show and story resonate differently with everyone. Sometimes, I will have people tell me how much my personal journey of quitting the 9-to-5 to follow my passion, really reflects what they desire for themselves. Others bound up to me after a show and tell me how inspired they feel and how my story sparked a realization in themselves that they were no longer doing the things they once loved to do. It is amazing just how many people put boundaries on themselves and tell themselves they can't do something or that change is not an option. Change may not be the easiest option, but I certainly believe the best things happen outside your comfort zone. Being genuine and true to who I am in my show, allows for a stronger connection with the audience. And of course, SO many people relate to my collection of love songs which tell tales about being cheated on and subsequently, finding 'the one' on the internet!
What can people expect from 'The Heart & Harp Tour'? ELSKA: The Heart & Harp Tour brings my catchy pop tunes, percussive harp beats, and live harp and vocal looping to Fringe 2019! It is a music concert that is playful, honest, feel-good, captivating and entertaining. The show brings something new and musically exciting to not only Fringe, but the Adelaide music scene. My show redefines the boundaries of my once classical instrument and proves that anything is possible in the world of pop music.
Can you tell us about how you're a looping harpist? ELSKA: When I decided to return to music and performing with my harp, I knew it had to be different to how I had once performed. I needed to be challenged creatively and didn't want to just replicate what I could already do as a musician. I wanted to push boundaries and do things differently. I had always been fascinated by music artists like Ed Sheeran, who use a loop pedal to create such a full sound, especially as a solo artist. A loop pedal basically turns you into a one-person-band by allowing you to record multiple layers of sound in a single performance. And then, one night, I stumbled across a harpist using a loop pedal on YouTube. It blew my mind to think that was even possible with a harp. A few videos later, I found another harpist, who used the harp percussively as a drum. My mind was blown. I was so inspired and knew right then, that was what I had to do with my harp. So that weekend, I road tripped to Sydney with my husband to a harp-maker, who installed little microphones in my harp, bought a loop pedal, a bunch of sound equipment, drove home and began experimenting.
How would you describe your style, as an artist and in fashion? ELSKA: As an artist, my music has definite nods to the nostalgia of the 70s. I absolutely love everything about that era and swear I lived a past life then! I grew up listening to my dad's record collection, which was filled with artists like Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Rod Stewart, and Melanie Safka. On stage, I love to communicate fun, youthfulness and romance in my fashion style. Reds, pinks, denim, my signature Baker Boy cap and other unique clothing pieces. In my show, I wear a custom made denim Confetti Jacket (theconfettiacket.com), which has a cape of red, pink and white ribbons stitched on the back. Offstage, my personal style can flip between being really simple and classic – jeans and a white t shirt – to lots of textured layers and clashing prints – floaty scarves, metallic jackets, floral blouses, leopard print splashes. I love op shopping and finding unique pieces that carry some history and charm.
What inspired you to take your show around the globe? ELSKA: I wanted to launch 'The Heart and Harp Tour' at Adelaide Fringe, because this festival and its audiences absolutely embrace the arts like no other. People want to go out and are hungry for unique arts experiences and for discovering hidden gems. The festival completely transforms the city into an arts wonderland, and I wanted to be a special part of creating that magic. The decision to be part of Fringe was also a bit of a selfish one, because my season here is also about the incredible experiences I will gain as an artist. The support, professional development, artist camaraderie, and extensive opportunities for artists at Fringe is unparalleled. I simply wanted to be part of the largest and most loved open-access arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere!
How did you get involved with Adelaide Fringe? ELSKA: I have loved Fringe ever since the time I lived here in Adelaide, about 10 years ago. I knew how magical the city was at Fringe time and I absolutely thrived on the electricity you felt walking around town. Even though I was no longer performing when I lived in Adelaide, I lived vicariously through the shows I experienced at Fringe time – and dreamed that one day, I, too, would have the chance to perform my own show at Fringe. So here I am!
How long have you been performing with Adelaide Fringe? If this is your first year, what are you anticipating from your participation? ELSKA: I call myself a Fringe 'freshie' as this is my very first year performing at the festival! I am trying not to put too much pressure on myself to sell-out shows, as that can be quite debilitating when you are exploring unknown waters. However, I have been overwhelmed by how much my music and live performance has been embraced even before my very first Fringe show! I have been invited to perform for the Fringe Official Sponsors Gala; will be participating in Fringe on Tour at Adelaide Airport; I have a number of Fringe spots in Rundle Mall; as well as a late-night Fringe Club performance, and a pop-up spot in the Red Light Confidential Variety Show. I am so excited to be part of Fringe and hope audiences embrace 'The Heart and Harp Tour'.
What Adelaide Fringe shows are you excited for this season? ELSKA: I recently launched an interview-style podcast called Her Creative Hustle, which celebrates creative artistic women hustling hard in their own creative 9-to-5. I'm interviewing a bunch of kick ass female Fringe artists while I am in town, so I can't wait to see some of their shows. I am especially excited to see Cathy Schenkenberg's show Squeeze My Cans – a hilarious and poignant look into her journey escaping Scientology. Clare Ellen O'Connor in Plucked! looks absolutely hilarious, and the girls from YUCK Circus have been killing it at Perth Fringe.
What's next for ELSKA? ELSKA: I have just released my second single, 'Goin' Down', which is a tale of romantic revenge, all wrapped up in a sassy 60s soul-pop explosion. Beyond Fringe, I am performing at some interstate music festivals (which I can't reveal just yet!) and have had some interest from international music events. So, it looks like my Fringe suitcase won't be unpacked for very long!
Is there anything else that you'd like your audience / our readers to know about you and your show? ELSKA: Even though I am a Gold Coast girl, I do have a bit of history and connection to Adelaide. My dad is an Adelaide boy from way back and is a mad Crows supporter; I lived here for a few years and used to work in Rundle Mall; and my harp was made right here in Adelaide! So, my performance here at Fringe is a bit of a homecoming moment for my harp. I'm happy for Adelaide to claim me as one of their own, if they like!
ELSKA: The Heart and Harp Tour will be performing across Mixed Creative and The Mill from Feb 16 - 26, as part of Adelaide Fringe.