It could be argued that anyone could and can be a songwriter if they wanted or want to be, but it takes a special kind of talent to be a success at it. Elyse Jewel has that talent in spades – her winning the John Lennon Songwriting Contest is a testament to that, but it’s also showcased through the songs she shares with the world, including her latest, “TBH IDK.”
With a visual album due out later this year, XS Noize caught up with Elyse to talk artistic influences, social media and how she hopes to make her memorable mark on the music world.
Who is Elyse Jewel in 5 words?
Bold, independent, loving, open, passionate.
Has music always been the focus and ambition for you, or did you have other dreams and ideas prior to pursuing this? At what point in your life did you know and think: "This is what I want to do with my life."?
Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be involved in music. My dad introduced me to the likes of Eric Clapton and The Beatles, and my aunt showed me musical theatre and show tunes. These heavily influenced my ever-growing love for music. I used to put on shows for my family and make music videos with my friends until I was granted the opportunity to actually perform in front of real public crowds and make music videos for my own songs.
Which three artists would you say you're most inspired or influenced by? How and why?
I absolutely love Taylor Swift and find her to be a major inspiration in my life. From her defiance of all gender roles and expectations as well as her genius song-writing, she is definitely my idol. I also take inspiration from Julia Michaels, who writes in the most creative ways. Her voice has significantly influenced me and showed me what true raw emotion sounds like in a song. I grew up on Eric Clapton and his music which always brings me back to positive memories about where I started in DIY music videos as a kid to where I am now as a working musician living my dream.
What impact did winning the John Lennon Songwriting Contest have on you and your career?
As a young girl, I had always dreamed of being recognised for my music, and the JLSC allowed that dream to come true. Having my first single, “Thinking About You,” win Pop Song of the Year was a mind-blowing moment for me because in that moment, I knew that people enjoyed my sound and wanted to hear what I had to say. Winning this contest allowed me to be fully confident in my abilities as a young female songwriter and push forward.
You've said in the past that your "songwriting process feels like a therapy session a lot of times." How so, and how important to you is that - that you have an outlet for your thoughts and feelings and that the songs you create can/do connect with listeners?
I have struggled with my own mental health for years and haven’t found an outlet that allows me to freely express myself better than music. Writing and singing out my feelings truly makes vocalising my feelings to others so much easier. The topic surrounding mental health is a very stigmatised one, and hopefully, with my music, I can help people feel less alone and more connected. I try to shed some advice in each of my songs through the lessons I’ve learned and prove to people that they have so much worth.
Tell me a little about your new single, "TBH IDK." Is there a personal story behind it, or does it stem from an idea you had?
I wrote this song at a time when I needed to escape from the reality that was getting played by someone I really liked. He led me on for months just to say “tbh idk” over text when asking him what we were. It was definitely disappointing, to say the least; however, I took what he said and made a song I hope everyone can relate to.
How do you think your sound and style have progressed and developed since you released your debut track "Thinking About You", in 2019?
I have come to find myself in every sense and have realised the sounds that feel most genuinely me. I found love within grungier tones while still allowing for a light, sweet feel. I’ve grown to become more open and write more freely and deeper from my heart.
You've got a visual album, 'Dear Diary', set to release later this year. Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about it?
Throughout the EP, I tell a conceptual story of what my relationship with this guy was like and how it affected me. It shows the ups and downs of a true young romance that many people can relate to. Oh, and here’s a fun fact: It’s about the same guy “tbh idk” is about.
Are there any tour or performance plans in the works? How eager are you to get up on a stage and play to fans, particularly after two years of not being able to do so?
I have many great shows coming up that I will be sharing on my website and social media! I am so excited to be playing and connecting face-to-face with people. The energy in the room when playing live is a feeling that is unreal. I am so beyond excited to perform and share my new music!
At just 17, you've grown up in a world dominated by the internet and the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Both personally and professionally, how do you feel about society's 'obsession' with likes etc.? Do you think there are any downsides to us all being so 'connected' all the time?
While social media isn’t my favourite thing to have, I do love and appreciate the ability to be able to connect with people from all around the world. I have made a family called ‘Gems’ on my pages and created a safe space for people from all over. It is draining over time and hard to not care about the number of comments or likes. I think the media leaves lots of room for overthinking and certain mental health problems to take play; however, I do think it is necessary and overall useful. I just remind myself that at the end of the day, I am always allowed to take a break from social media if I have to.
Aside from this single and the album, are there any other plans in the works? What are your goals for this year and beyond?
I plan to share my music with as many people as possible and continue building a platform that allows people to feel at home. I am beyond excited to share my EP and play more shows, so you’ll have to follow along to keep up with everything headed into the work this year!
Finally, then, as I mentioned before, you're a young artist, and the music industry has been around for decades, with many of your counterparts coming and going. How do you plan to make your memorable mark on the music world and ensure as best you can that you have a long and prosperous career?
I plan on making sure that my fanbase always remains connected with me. I want to make sure that I am always able to help someone or help them realise how special and unique they are.