Introducing ELI

With the first underwater shot, when rays of the Sun shine through, ELI appears floating, letting the ocean take its course, focusing on self-acceptance and embracing the inevitable inner struggle. The powerfully expressive ‘Sin’ music video quickly transitions into ELI’s artistic depiction of breaking free from societal norms and tradition. Instead, it stands as a bold anthem for all the outliers by leaning towards more unorthodox tendencies.

Born and raised in South London, ELI is an alternative artist. Her debut EP ‘Full Form’ is an outstanding body of work exploring a series of unfortunate events supported by hypnotic, dark, indie R&B blends. Written and produced in her home in South East London, ELI hopes for ‘Full Form’ to reach beyond the attention of an ordinary listener and calls for more self-acceptance and empathy amongst one another and more compassion within ourselves.

For a debut project, ELI avoids working towards a viral moment or mainstream success with meaningless verses. On ‘Full Form,’ she truthfully translates personal grief into a 4-track conflict-resolution guide; ‘Do You Love’ is the response to ‘Promises,’ and ‘Parallel’ is the response to ‘Sin.’

Each track serves as a puzzle piece, a part of a healing tool, which helped to carry ELI through a turbulent time. All coming together a giant puzzle piece for complete restoration and coming to terms with a new reality, ELI unfolds parts of herself to vulnerably explore the truth of who she is.

Noctis chats to ELI about her safe place, her new visuals for the latest single ‘Sin,’ and the urgency of more female representation in the music industry as a whole.

What was the main driving force behind you choosing music as a career path?

I grew up in a musical home so music was a very natural progression for me. I’ve always made music and enjoyed listening to all kinds of genres from nu-metal, jazz, gospel to pop and grunge. I learnt the piano in primary school, then guitar soon after and would come home from school everyday and write songs. It was one of my earliest memories so I was bound to end up becoming an artist.

What would you change about the industry if you could?

Female representation in the music industry as a whole is lacking. I’d like to see more female headliners and women of colour in alternative spaces. Winning awards, at the top of festival bills, on the radio and the tv, there’s a big community of us bubbling in the UK, working hard and pushing to be more visible in the media.

What is your safe place when it comes to recording music?

My bedroom is my oasis for songwriting. I have a nice little set up where I write and record. It’s where I made ‘Full Form’ and I always feel more comfortable expressing and experimenting at home.

What is your inner-artist response to experiencing a major life event? How do you turn the feeling of loss, joy or trauma into a song? 

They often manifest themselves subconsciously. Whether if that’s in a metaphorical way, lyrically or in the tone I use when singing. Storytelling is another facet embedded between the layers of my songs, so if I have something to say emotionally, you’ll definitely feel it. 

Listening back to your music, how do you envision the records, as a movie, as a dance choreography or as a series of personal memories? 

Full Form comes from a series of personal experiences over the course of 2022. Each instance opened my eyes to who I am in those moments and taught me how to grieve and grow. I ended up contextualising almost all of those separate situations for instance Do You Love came from feeling undervalued in a partnership so I hypothesised being longed for and desired to process that, and gave it an upbeat nostalgic groove to pull me out of that rut. I wanted to channel positive energy and remember how that moment benefitted my path. 

People can often experience synesthesia when they’re listening to music. Are any of your other senses triggered when listening to your debut EP ‘Full Form’? (A certain smell, taste or the way you felt)?

I’m quite an avid daydreamer and I often find myself doing that a lot when creating a track. I’ll waver between playing and feeling and in a weird way it helps guide the direction of what I’m working on. 

What chapter of your life does this project speak of?

I describe Full Form as a non chronological series of unfortunate events that forced me to find the truth of who I am. Between grappling with my mental health, to breakups in every sense of the word and my purpose and existence. It’s a deep dive into my sense of being and how they helped shape me.

When working on ‘Full Form,’ what did you want the main messaging to be? Did you change it along the way or is the finished product what you always envisioned it to be?

The core running theme through Full Form is one of restoration and coming to terms with a new reality. It did sway from track to track during the writing process but once I stood back I realised that each song is a puzzle piece; on their own they seem contrasting but pieced together create a web of events that helped carry me through a turbulent time. 

Your new visuals for lead single ‘SIN’ are striking, powerful and gorgeous. What did you want to express in this music video? 

Sin plays on the themes of self condemnation and internal struggle. Pulling away from a life of tradition and into the unorthodox. When I brought the concept to Curtis who directed ‘Sin’ he really wanted to hone in on the theme of empowerment in choosing your own path, overcoming trials and being the hero of your own story. 

What do you have in store for us this year? 

I’m planning on releasing more music and playing a whole heap of shows. That’s my main goal! Would love to do another tour so fingers crossed on that. But for now I’m basking in putting out my first EP, it’s been a journey and I’m glad it’s being well received. 

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Words: Karolina Kramplova