Interview: Élishia Sharie
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today? The sound of Whitney Houston’s voice is what got me into music. I first heard her music when I was 3 years old. To this day, I still get chills when I hear her voice, and it is that feeling that made me say “I want to make people feel like THAT” at the age of 3. If I had not gotten into music, I think I would’ve been an illustrator. I used to be pretty skilled at drawing.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity? When I am not playing music, I like to do photography, create graphics, and design websites. I own a creative agency called Élishia Sharie Creative (ESC) where I collaborate with businesses and brands to create their unique visual identity! Being a photographer and graphic designer, when I’m not writing or performing music, helps to keep the creative side of my brain active!
How long has music been your career? I have been doing music professionally, as an adult, for the last 5 years. There was a 12-year period where I was recovering from vocal loss and couldn’t do music on the professional level that I desired. Prior to my vocal loss, I was that kid who performed at EVERY school and local talent show and auditioned for nationally televised talent shows regularly. Even as a kid, I was very serious about pursuing music professionally.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music? I am a Los Angeles based Neo Alternative Rock artist, originally from Santa Barbara County—Lompoc, CA to be exact. I was exposed to all different kinds of music because I had military friends who came from all over the world with eclectic music collections. Lompoc introduced me to so many different kinds of music, but Los Angeles taught me that it was okay to embrace and ultimately infuse the musical influences I grew up on. LA has taught me that it’s okay to be a little weird and unconventional.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played. The best show I’ve played to-date is The Viper Room, March 19, 2020; three nights before the pandemic shut down the music scene. I had curated and headlined the show that night. I was really proud of the lineup I had chosen and the crowd that showed up, despite the rainy weather. Being able to reflect on the energy and success of that show for the 14 months I wouldn’t be able to perform publicly really helped me through some of those tougher “Pandemic Days.” I can’t really say that I’ve had any “bad" or "worst" shows because I typically like to keep things positive. Every show that I’ve done has taught me something and has contributed to the evolution of my artistry.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already? Two of my favorite venues to play are The Viper Room and The Mint in Los Angeles. The crowd energy at these venues is always amazing. They never let me down! You can tell that the people who frequent these venues truly love music and appreciate the work artists and musicians do. Some venues that I haven’t played but am looking forward to playing in the future are: The Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Garden.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket? If I could play any show with any lineup, there would be some electrifying, kickass, powerhouse womxn on the ticket! Rock 'n' Roll has always been a bit of a "Boys Club." I want to be able to put more of the spotlight on Womxn Rockers—especially womxn of color. Womxn have a lot to bring to the genre but aren't always given the opportunity to showcase it.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music? Some advice I would give to anyone who is just getting into music, is TO BE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF. Stay true to your art and who you envision yourself to be as an artist, even if it goes against the grain. Quite honestly, I’m a little bored with the current musical climate because there are a lot of artists trying to sound like other artists. Music is a vehicle for self-expression, but some artists aren’t using it as an opportunity to tell THEIR stories.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be? If I could go back in time and give myself advice, I would tell myself "Don’t be afraid to be YOU." For a long time, I was afraid to be who I knew I was meant to be. I tried to fit into a box and a genre that everyone else thought I should cram myself into. When I decided that I wasn’t going to be afraid anymore to be this electrifying BLACK WOMAN in Rock ‘n’ Roll, that’s when the creativity and the opportunities really started to flow—that’s when my purpose really started to reveal itself.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why? Of all my songs, I think "FIGHT!" will always mean the most to me—it was my first global release after a 12-year long battle to restore my vocal range and confidence. "FIGHT!" is also a song that kept my mom encouraged through her cancer treatment (congrats on 5 years of remission, Mom! Love you). "FIGHT!" is also a song that people still message me, call me, and stop me at shows about, to share how the song inspires and uplifts them. Music is medicine, and FIGHT! is definitely one of those anthems that fuels healing.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most? Of all my songs, "Liar Liar" is probably my favorite one to play/perform. I just love the energy and attitude of that song—which is why I love opening my set with it! When it comes to songs that get requested the most from my set, it’s between my song, “FIGHT!”, and the cover we do of “Zombie” by The Cranberries. I had recently considered retiring the "Zombie" cover, because we’ve been performing it for almost three years now, but the crowd loves it so much (and honestly, we love performing it, too). We’ll keep it in the set for now. ?
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music? I’m not really sure that I have a consistent creative "process" when it comes to writing music. Inspiration comes when I least expect it, and it comes in the form of an experience, a dream, a sound, or even just a word sometimes. In that moment of inspiration, I take out my phone and start typing lyrics in my ‘Notes’ app and record a voice memo, if I have a melody already. I find that a studio setting is uninspiring when it comes to writing, so I often write in my car, while out walking my dog, while sitting on the toilet, or while in the shower.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music? My music is mostly filled with messages of hope, empowerment, strength, and triumph. With my latest release, “New Strange,” I show a more vulnerable side of me—a not so strong side. However, even in the weakness and depression that I speak about in that song, I eventually find hope and the strength to just let go of the thoughts that were keeping me in such a dark place. Life is so unpredictable and hard at times, so I try to create music that helps listeners, including myself, through those tough times.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them? I am pretty fortunate to be able to collaborate with my husband, Jay (@jay_vincent_b), on all of my releases. He is my producer, engineer, and occasionally, my co-writer. If you listen closely, you may even hear him singing backgrounds on some of the songs. ? We don’t really have disagreements when it comes to our collaborations, which is a beautiful thing. Have there been times when I did not fully love a mix or a sound/instrument used on the track? ABSOLUTELY. But the beauty of our relationship is that we have a mutual respect for one another. If there is something that I don’t like and want to change, he’s not offended when I speak up, and he changes it. He also trusts and respects my creative vision, and I trust his expertise and creative vision as well.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up? I am really excited about the future, as I just recently announced that the band and I are going on our FIRST TOUR soon! Woo hoo! Follow me on social media to stay up to date on when and where "The Phoenix Rises" Tour will be rockin'!
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