In Conversation With: Ellise
Rising goth-pop star Ellise transcends the confines of genre and the laziness of stereotypes. She has always been attracted to pop music, often tangles with the spooky, darker style of music when it comes to melodies and songwriting. The 23-year-old Bay Area-born songstress’ stream is filled with images of her bright pink hair, designer accessories, and love for emerging fashion labels.
2021 has been none short of eventful for Ellise, who released her debut album and a Halloween-themed EP towards the tail-end of this year. The former, Chaotic, was met with a live rendition that includes fan-favorites such as “Take Me To Safety” and “Bruises” amongst several others. With her debut full-length project, it’s obvious that Ellise didn’t hold back on themes such as love, human experience, and much more. Many of her songs are vulnerable and seemingly personal, yet they are relatable while remaining increasingly catchy and addictive. Ellise is a young pop star with a lot to offer as well as a lot of time to showcase that to the world.
Her ability to create magic in the studio points to why she’s on a meteoric rise currently. Despite putting out two full bodies of works this year, Ellise continues to release new jams for her cult-like fanbase while preparing for another monumental year filled with touring and much more. In our latest interview, Ellise talks with us about the perfect date night, Gen Z, and things that come naturally as it relates to songwriting amongst a list of other topics! Read below.
The themes in your songs are pretty universal, but there are many lyrics that I think speak specifically to what Gen Z is facing right now. What do you think is the most misunderstood thing about your generation?
I think there’s honestly a lot! I feel like people, particularly older people and our parents, think that we’re like these kids going through whatever and they don’t really understand. I try to shine a light on the stuff that I go through which I feel like a lot of people my age go through. It’s just the heartbreak and craziness of our super fucked up dating culture, drug culture, and just all that stuff that I feel like a lot of people don’t understand unless you’re our age.
You have such a bubbly, outgoing persona, and yet your songs fall into this dark-pop space. How do you reconcile the two? Is songwriting your way to exorcise those emotions?
I feel like for me, it’s always been natural. Ever since I was young, I really had two sides of me where I am a really happy person so I don’t try to stay in this dark sad mood all the time. I do like to be happy but I can easily get weighed down by the deep depressing stuff that happens. I also think that sometimes I purposely put myself in hectic situations because I crave the chaos and drama. So it’s always been a lifelong balance of trying to not fall completely into it.
I think for me, songwriting doesn’t really heal anything for me. I know for a lot of people, it provides closure but for me, I usually have to write things after I’m already so far removed from things that I can see it from a clear birds-eye view. Because when I’m in those things, I’m just so influenced and unable to form coherent thoughts. Songwriting for me is just putting a little bow on top and making it go away forever.
Obviously, you and Iggy Azalea collaborated a while back, how did that song come about, and has your relationship with her grown since then?
I’m so grateful that I was able to be on her song, I’ve been a fan of her since she did “Fancy” and “Problem” with Arianna Grande. Me and Iggy are on the same label and one day, they hit me and said “Iggy needs a vocalist for this song and she heard your voice and absolutely loves it. Can you record this today?” I was like oh my gosh, for Iggy Azalea of course I can record it today. Sent it to them, they loved it, and then a couple of weeks later, the song came out.
At that time, I had never met her before but she was on tour with Pitbull in LA and they invited us to come out. We went and hung out with her a little bit and it was really fun and sweet. It was so sweet, she’s very very nice!
Musically, you’ve been pretty frequent with dropping music, what are some topics that come pretty naturally to you and is there anything that is fairly difficult to talk about in your music?
I think what comes the most naturally to me is concepts. I obviously love writing melodies too, but I think my biggest thing has always been lyrics and concepts. That comes from me just being a big reader when I was a kid and being obsessed with reading and writing growing up. It’s made me always want to have metaphors hidden behind double meanings and stuff.
Honestly, when I first dropped Chaotic, I was pretty nervous because there were a lot of things in that album that I was kind of nervous to talk about. I was more or so nervous because people in my life that I actually knew were going to know exactly what I was talking about, exactly who I was talking about, and that scared me. I didn’t really care if my fans hear it because I feel like people could relate to it. In the song “Chaotic,” I’m vividly talking about this boy I used to date and how I had to follow him during his addiction to drugs.
I feel like for young women, especially in pop, there’s this sense of pressure. For professional musicians such as yourself, how do you think about the full scope of your career?
I’m really happy with how things are going. I definitely feel like as a girl, it’s a little bit challenging in some ways. I think as a woman in the industry, you have to earn respect whereas men kind of automatically gain it. People might just look at you and not take you seriously off bat because you’re a girl. I’ve been in rooms writing music and it’s all guys, and a lot of time all of the guys are cool, but there have been times where you’re getting silenced or pushed to the side.
I think a big part of my growth as an artist in LA has been commanding the respect that I want. It happens, but I feel like we’re moving in the right direction so hopefully, by the time the next generations come, that just won’t be a thing anymore. The playing field is definitely leveling now.
Who are some artists that you’re currently listening to?
I literally listen to every genre. I’ve been listening to a lot of Deco, he’s really sick and he also has this AI girl that he created that he does songs with. Obviously always listening to Drake and Lil Wayne, I’ve been on a Wayne kick recently. I’ve been streaming The Faces album by Mac Miller a lot because they recently put it up on streaming, it’s a masterpiece front to back. I’ve been listening to Aaliyah, Yeet, Upsoul, and yeah, that’s pretty much it!
Let’s talk about style, how big of a role does your clothing and the way you dress play a part in your life? Do you have any go-to brands these days?
I think fashion and make-up sort of blend into my love of music. My love of music is just being an artist in general and to me, how I dress and what I wear is a huge part of how I express myself. I love trying to keep up with super sick new up-and-coming brands. I basically buy all of my clothes from Depop and Etsy since 2020, I’ve tried to completely stop fast fashion shopping. It’s so much better because the clothing is better quality and you’re getting custom shit no one has.
Some of my favorites right now… Yung Reaper is really sick. It’s a female-owned brand, she’s really killing it right now. I also love YARD666SALE! There’s another brand called Sicko Kittens, she’ll take a bunch of socks and sow them together into shirts and clothes. It’s really cool! Those are a few of my favorites.
I love that, despite everything going on these days, do you still find yourself able to travel and have fun?
Honestly this whole year, I’ve been all work. Any free time I get, I use to go to the Bay Area to see my family just because I’ve been missing them. Now that it’s the end of the year and I’m pretty much done with everything, I’m probably just going to travel and have some fun for the last month or so. It was a lot of work this year, but it was fun work! I do the easiest and most fun job in the world.
What does the perfect date night look like for you?
I’m very much a stay-at-home person! Every now and then I’ll want to go out in which a date night would be like going to the club and getting fucked up. Usually, me and my boyfriend are the same where we’ll just order Postmates, watch a movie, and hang out on the couch. I’m so not used to going to restaurants anymore and I don’t have the stamina to sit in a theatre for two hours!
What are you most excited about next year?
I’m really excited about touring. I feel like I dropped so much music this year and now I have this bug inside of me ready to perform it all. I can’t wait to sing all of this music!
If you enjoyed our chat with Ellise, check out our interview with pop princess Macy Kate!