Show Off Your Studio: Elohim leaves pressure at the door in her creative wonderland
We head to California to hear about Elohim’s new EP series, Journey To The Center Of Myself, and learn why Herbie Hancock has her dreaming of a $500,000 piano.
Producer, musician and vocalist Elohim has cultivated a unique style in electronic music that has piqued the interest of some of the industry’s biggest names. Skrillex, Marshmello, GriZ, Louis The Child, Flux Pavilion, Wiz Khalifa and The Glitch Mob have all collaborated with Elohim, seeing her dip her toes in a variety of genres and styles. She’s carved her own space in a male-heavy scene and isn’t afraid to open up about anxiety and mental health struggles in her lyrics, which are cleverly juxtaposed with bright synth parts and bouncing grooves.
Elohim invites us into her California studio and explains why she preaches the “no presh sesh”. She also gives us a look at some of her favourite synths and tells about an encounter with Herbie Hancock that has her dreaming of a $500,000 piano.
Hey Elohim! We love your first two volumes of Journey to the Center of Myself. Can you give us a bit of background into its concept and creation?
Thank you! Volume 1 starts with the title track Journey to the Center of Myself. This song set the tone for all four volumes of this project sonically, emotionally and lyrically. “A journey to the centre of my apocalyptic rising lungs / I can’t speak without my tongue / I shouldn’t have swallowed it that was dumb” is my favourite line in this song. It was created out of pure love and joy and just staying up until 3 am jamming. The creation of this music was the most freeing of my life. The concept is precisely what the title is: it is a journey through all of the parts of me that make me who I am and getting to the core of that.
Can you tell us a bit about the studio?
We are located in Topanga, California. It is a small, humble yet beautiful and creative space. I’ve never had a space where I’ve felt more clear-headed and truly myself. I love adding crystals and books that inspire me, but the amount of instruments we have at our fingertips is the most inspiring, including the old piano I can sit down and tinker at. There are also instruments from my brother’s travels around the world. Being so close to home is also very comforting for me.
How do you use your studio?
This particular studio is at my brother’s house. We built it about three years ago. What was once a dirt-filled space is now a beautiful, clean, open space for an abundance of creation. We’ve wired it so that we can play any analogue instruments and record them on the fly at any moment. That makes for a streamlined artistic flow – I can turn on the faucet and let it run free. I also created a bedroom studio during the pandemic, and that was a whole new experience in total solitude.
What atmosphere do you try and create in the studio?
I always say “no presh sesh”, meaning the way to have the best creativity for me is to feel no pressure and to feel total freedom and confidence without judgement. If I want to bang on a drum or scream into a mic, I want to feel encouraged to do so. Often, it takes trying many things until you actually get it right. I love to create with my best friends. For me, the studio space should be clean, comfortable, and nice, but mostly it is an energy. And for whatever reason, whenever I walk into this particular studio, I feel struck with creativity.
Which DAW do you use?
When I am producing alone, I use Ableton Live. It’s amazing for sampling and processing audio; there is so much you can do just within Ableton with no outside plug-ins. I am also a piano/ keyboard player, and it’s great for performing.
I don’t track my own vocals – I get too in my head and it’s tedious, so my engineer uses Pro Tools, which is amazing for vocal comping. And when I work with my brother, we use Logic Pro. I’m cool with using Logic because I started on Garageband, but Ableton is my number one. It’s so user friendly once you get the hang of it.
What is your favourite piece of gear?
I’d say the Sequential Prophet right now. I’ve pretty much used it on every piece of music. It seems to be a bank of never-ending sounds and inspiration.
How did your recent collab with Flux Pavillion and Ookay come about? Was it easy to collab remotely?
In electronic music, many collaborations are generally remote. But then COVID-19 happened, and everything had to be remote! Facetime was a great tool for collaboration, but this particular song wasn’t as easy as others.
Ookay and Flux are such brilliant producers, and the track they sent me was already so intricate and full. So I had to work around that and write a melody that would fit. I kept trying and nothing happened. I almost called and gave up. I stepped away from the song for a couple of weeks, and the next time I opened it, I started singing: “I just wanna be ok, everything’s gonna be ok!” and I thought “oh my gosh, I got it!” And the rest wrote itself.
You float around different genres in your work – is this intentional, or do you find a nice groove and just roll with it?
One hundred per cent find a groove and roll with it. I like to create with no boundaries. Music is so vast, as are human brains. I experience so many emotions, and I listen to so much music. It’s hard to pick one genre and stick to that. Sometimes I want to sit at the piano and write a ballad. Other times, I want to dance my brains out.
If you were left on a desert island, what one item would you take with you to make music with forever?
I can sit and play the kalimba for hours. That would be nice on an island.
What is your dream piece of gear?
A Fazioli grand piano. I was once playing a Rachmaninoff piece on one, and Herbie Hancock came up to me and complimented my piano playing. It’s a $500,000 piano, and I’ve dreamed of having one ever since.
What is your top piece of production advice?
Keep creating. Make music until you can’t make any more music and then make some more music.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?
Feeling comfortable, safe and serene in your space is one of the most important parts of a successful creative space. It can be your bedroom as long as you feel the most you – that is what matters.