Editor's Note: Elohim was originally scheduled to perform in Phoenix on Thursday, March 19. Due to growing health concerns, the show was postponed for a later date. We are sharing this interview with her.
As far as power moves go, there are few greater than naming yourself after the Almighty.
For the enigmatic electropop singer, producer, and songwriter Elohim, her cosmically grand name is a way to help her feel more at ease with herself.
Hitting the pop scene in 2016 with a self-titled EP, she soon garnered attention with beguiling electronic jams like “Sleepy Eyes” and “Love Is Alive.” Elohim gained just as much attention for her mysterious persona. Performing with masks and often photographed with her face obscured, the singer coated her voice with layers of treated sounds to make her identity a mystery. But the layers of artifice was more than just theatrics. It was a way for the singer to cope with her crippling anxiety.
Following on the heels of her full-length debut, Elohim has been switching things up a bit. Though she still goes by her divine name, she’s dropped the masks and the effects off her vocals. She’s also become open to talking about the mental health issues she’s grappled with over the years. That led her to start a hotline so people struggling with their own problems can reach out for support (see the Facebook post below).
We talked to the singer to find out more about the hotline, her classical background, and why she covered Harvey Danger.
Phoenix New Times: Tell me about your mental health hotline. What inspired you to start doing that?
I’ve struggled with it since I was 7 years old. I can only write my truth and that's what I did. People started reaching out to me saying, "I never knew anybody else felt like this." They can tell in my lyrics that I know exactly what they’re going through, and that opened my eyes. I feel so much more empathetic now and it made me aware of a world of people who are struggling and who feel incredibly alone. The more people I talk to, the more inspired it makes me feel to want to help as much as I possibly can. So that’s why I started doing it.
As someone who's struggled with anxiety, I wonder if it made it easier for you to have this alternate identity.
I had to have this persona in order to even be able to get on stage without vomiting. Even just getting on an airplane on show days, and the days leading up to it. I couldn’t get out of bed or leave the hotel room without going through all this panic and fear. It got so bad that at one point, I ended up getting really sick with pneumonia that lasted for about two weeks because I wasn’t eating. I was vomiting all the time, and my anxiety was out of control.
You stated in past interviews that you're putting together a live album with you on piano and backed by string players. What brought about that move away from electronics?
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A lot of people think I’m a DJ, and that’s not the case at all. I make my own music. I write it. I play it live. I’m a one-woman show, and I read off of music. I’m a real musician, and I grew up playing classical music. It seemed like a waste to not show people what I can do.
What inspired you to cover “Flagpole Sitta”?
I’ve always loved that song! I was driving around, and this local L.A. station was playing it. I just got it in my head. So I went home and worked it out on the piano, and I looked at the lyrics, which I hadn’t really done before, and realized it was all about mental health. I got chills sitting at my piano when I realized that. It brought on this whole new meaning to me, and it had so much more depth.