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Happy New Year!

Posted on by Elissa Mielke

Photo: Mark Sommerfeld

Photo: Mark Sommerfeld

This was my most alive/intentional year of living yet, if that makes any sense. I tried not to shirk from adventure or challenges. I got tired of trying to make people like me and just settled more into being, writing, and speaking as myself. I dove in and felt it all baby- immense joy and deep sorrow. I laughed a lot and screamed and loved and cried in public sometimes. I hurt a lot this year tbh. I made some decisions that were hard to make, I trusted my intuition completely and all sorts of adventures & loves & disasters came from that. So this year I don't have the regrets that I usually wrestle with. I am hopeful for this new year. I am going to try to do it again; a year of living intentionally and being present and listening to my glorious weirdo female intuition.

I worked hard this year- I got sick of my usual excuses. I gave myself a good kick in the bum and was like: "Okay, stop fearing that your dreams might not come true and go do something about it or you will be a very sad human full of regrets someday. I played music every day even when I felt afraid of it, picked up my guitar more, learned to be assertive in meetings, asked for what I want for my music career, connected with other artists who formed a community that is so beautiful, wrote more honestly, other such things.

I did a lot of things for the first time this year:
- I released my first EP & single! I played a sold-out show with friends to release it in Toronto; that was a great step for me. I'm done with hoarding my demos and ready to keep making and sharing things.
- Made my first two music videos wahooo
- Heard my songs on the radio for the first time (and in 3 different countries!) 
- I played live with a band and ventured away from just doing my solo sets. And I was lucky- I got to play with amazing players who made me think about rhythm and audience and melody in new ways. (Shoutout to Don, Kevin, Jahmal, Joseph, many more).

 

I have a concussion right now (This is part of my allotted minutes of screentime- after this I will watch five minutes of Gilmore Girls or something and then it’s back to audio books and writing songs quietly). I'm recovering quickly and am totally okay so this is not about that; but rather that as a beautiful result, my week has been really meditative. It's been good for me to be forced to lie still and breathe, to be in the dark and make plans and try out ideas. I find it hard to stop and take time just to exist. This is a good reminder that I need more of this in my life; as an artist, but also just so I can be more in touch with my whole self, love people better and remember what regular breathing feels like. 

Photo: Bryan Derballa (NYC)

Photo: Bryan Derballa (NYC)

What about you? I hope you are finding renewal and healing. I hope your New Year's hangover isn't too bad. I hope you are stopping to breathe and reflect and to be thankful for everything this year was and wasn't. I hope if it wasn’t, you’ll try again and make things happen the way you wish them to.

Thank you for supporting me and my music. I'm going to work my ass off this year and write from the depths of my soul so watch ouuuutttt!!!!

xo

Elissa

Photo: Justin Broadbent

Photo: Justin Broadbent

My EP is out today!

Posted on by Elissa Mielke

Hey guess what, my EP comes out today!
Buy it here to support (and look for it on iTunes in two weeks!)
I'm happy to have it out in the world and am excited to keep writing and playing shows now. 
In case you missed the leadup to it (everyone hire Auteur Research, they are absolute geniuses at getting the word out), here are some things to check out:

For one, my first music video ever- leading this post.

Other cool things going on around the new tracks:
I heard my songs on the radio for the first time! Much love to CBC and all the other stations (list soon) that are spinning the track. So encouraging.

I love Vice and was happy to talk to them about the EP. Check my interview at Noisey (Vice)! and then peek at this Daily Vice segment that talks about some pretty important stuff going in the world annnd has me chatting about the EP and how we made it!
Drunken Werewolf premiered the single and I am so grateful for their support all the time. Also
this delightful interview or this in-depth one, or these kind words from Novella.

The EP Release show is September 9th at the Drake Underground in Toronto. Dreamy guests and more shows around the world TBA.

Thank you for supporting me! I have so many more songs I want to share with you and will keep investing and working and doing this because I love it and I can't help it, it's my favourite thing to do! Much love and talk to you soon.

New track Sleeping Alone now premiering on Drunken Werewolf UK!

Posted on by Elissa Mielke

Hurrayyy! I am a happy little duck over here.
I have a new song called Sleeping Alone off my upcoming debut EP that's now premiering on the internet, just for you! I am excited to release the EP on August 28th along with some beautiful videos! And I'm happily working away at an album in the meantime.
This song is about my journey to just be okay with myself. To realize that being okay when you are alone is essential to loving other people well. Sleeping Alone is about waking up to that instead of waiting for a sign that you're worthy. 

Thanks for supporting me on my funny journey. More soon. xox.

Elissa

Album art by Justin Broadbent, Photos by Thomas Van der Zaag


Discussion off

Things I've learned in London: Instalment #2

Posted on by Elissa Mielke

2. Trust your artistic instincts and act on them. Then be prepared to deal with the consequences.

I was a little kid on a family canoe trip one summer, and we stopped at a cliff where all these other kids were jumping into the lake below. It looked fun. I wanted to jump too, but I was so scared.
I stood all day on the cliffs watching the other kids jump off into the water- and still their survival wasn’t enough proof for me. What if there is a snapping turtle who will attack me? I wondered. Maybe that shadow is a hidden rock and I'll hit my head. Maybe it's a conspiracy and the water is a mirage! (seriously, I wondered this).
I remember I wanted to jump so badly, but I couldn't. Fear consumed me.
Until the very last minute, right when everyone was going back to their boats and the sun was sinking. That's when I’d find a bit of courage while everyone’s back was turned. I’d throw myself off while screaming and clenching my fists. And then I’d crash happily into the deep blue water and it was the best thing of my life.

Photo: Thomas Van der Zaag

Somehow when I looked up at the cliff from the water, it looked like the little rock that it was.
Then I'd want to climb up and jump again and again all day long!
... Except the day was done, and I’d wasted it, and I had to go home.

I don’t want to be the girl on the cliff missing out because she is envisioning all potential outcomes. I know now that I have to jump soon as I get to the cliff- without over-thinking, as soon as I believe in an idea. Otherwise I never will. I realize music is a privilege, and I only have a certain amount of time to freely pursue what I love before it gets more difficult to find the time and money to support what I love doing. 
I am learning to trust my instincts. Logic is essential but taking chances is what helps me make my own path. I trust my impulses more now- like “Hey I think I'll move to London alone to chase down some opportunities that I feel hopeful for and could potentially end in complete failure! Neat.”

You are jumping from a cliff. And yes, the glittery ocean below could actually be a forest or a parking lot. (hopefully not a parking lot). If you fall, you find a way to rebuild and recover. While you jump you know there's a risk- you know you can fail. But what if instead, it’s actually an ocean of possibility?  

In summary, the second thing I've learned is this:
When you find an avenue- or a chance- that resonates with you, you have to try. If an idea comes that makes you feel on fire with possibility, it is best to run with it. You have to leap and feel okay with disappointment or pain. 
Because regret is worse.

Photo: Thomas Van der Zaag

Thing I've learned #1

Posted on by Elissa Mielke

As promised, here's the first instalment of what I learned in London.

1. Stop measuring everything! There is no way to measure how far up the mountain you have climbed. Be in the journey instead.

There is only progress, only growing. There is no forward or back- there is only climbing.

Photo: Thomas VanderZaag

You are definitely Beyonce.

You are definitely Beyonce.

It’s a beautiful day and you are climbing your mountain.
You are tired. You want a snack.
Suddenly all the doors open for you, and it seems every dream is coming true. Someone important has noticed your potential! A great label is investing in your development! Wow. This must be the mountaintop! You made it! 
You are Beyonce! You are definitely Beyonce.
Wait. Just kidding. (happy april fool’s day, etc).
This specific door is full of tricks; it's conditional on writing lyrics that give you the bad kind of goosebumps, agreeing to the next 4 years when you think you want something else, or dancing naked while riding a galloping horse (which sounds awesome so never mind). This opportunity isn't what you hoped. So you decide to get out. You step way from the door, (while the people inside tell you you’re crazy for walking away). The door slams. There you are, back on the mountain. Alone like an idiot.
At this point it is easy to look up at your mountain and say “Shit! Wrong choice! I have gone nowhere! I have failed! I am alone on a mountain of closed doors! I will hide in bed and watch [name of TV show has been excluded to save your respect for me].”

Warning: do not stay in bed all week. Sure, go lie in bed. But stay for just a day. Because if you pay attention after the wrong door closes, you will realize you aren’t on the same mountain at all. Every time a false start happens, your mountain is different, because you are different. You also know what you don’t want, and that’s progress.

As it turns out, you can be halfway up the mountain in some ways and simultaneously lost in a cave at the same time (i.e., great numbers at your shows, but you’re unable to finish a song you are working on).

So in summary, lesson to myself is this: focus on making something you are proud of, that brings you meaning, and stop looking at the mountain and figuring out how long you have to go. For me this means writing a lot in my little closet and not showing anyone what I made until it’s actually good. For someone else it could mean playing live even if you don’t feel ready. It’s so personal.

If you really love the mountain you’ve chosen to climb (your great love) you will never reach the top. You will find enough joy in the climb itself- because the journey is the best part. 

Minor: A Canadian Feature Film

Posted on by Elissa Mielke

Hi and welcome to my update.
For the last few months, I've been working on a feature film called Minor .

In the the film I play a teenage girl & singer who steals a car with her best friend. They drive across the country with the dream of starting a new life.

We'll be filming Minor this October & November- driving from Niagara Falls across the United States to end in L..A., where my character somewhat finds herself.

My co-actress is Tess Parks, an intelligent, talented artist recently signed to 359 Music. I'm already so inspired by collaborating with her.

We're all making this film as a love project, so it's lots of work to seek out funding. Check out the kickstarter page and our videos to learn more.

I'd love to meet you at the promo show for Minor! It's being held at the Silver Dollar on October 4th with a great lineup of bands. 

Check back for more about these other projects:

- Playing with looping and various pedals to add layers to my live sound. Look for that in my live sets later this year!

- Piles of grant-writing, in hopes of enough funding to record a great ep this winter.

- A pilot for a series where two musicians from different backgrounds & genres are thrown in a studio together for two days to write a song. (Wait until you see this studio...)

As always, I'm grateful for your support!

Elissa

 

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I've learned some things this year.

Posted on by Elissa Mielke

Last year at this time I was in Tokyo, writing songs on my micro-korg on a rooftop somewhere. So strange to think of all that happens in a year.
This has been a big year of growth for me; my first year of taking on music-making as a full time thing. 

Here are some lessons I learned -through my own mistakes, and from others- in my first year of self-employment as a creative person:

1. Treat your act of creating as you would a more conventional job. Set your alarm. Create a morning routine which gets you inspired. Even if you're working at home, designate a corner for creation. Get dressed as if you’re heading to an office. Get out of your sleepy clothes. 

2. Get advice from everyone you can. I am slowly compiling ideas from self-employed creative people and am beginning to learn from their mistakes, while I make my own. The book "The War of Art" is awesome- reading it kills my procrastination monster every time. Also the book "Rituals."

3. Just start! This is the hardest part for me. When I approach something new, like a commissioned song, it is so daunting and impossible. Sometimes I say "I will start on this for 15 minutes and that's all I have to do today." And usually when I start, I can't stop. I am on a train of ideas and don't want to get off of it. Sometimes starting something new works better when I let myself work in 30 minute intervals with short breaks in between. Find what works for you, but just start.

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4. Getting inspired is also part of your job. If you are an accountant, going to a financial seminar is training- it makes you better at your job and gets you excited about numbers (or so I have heard).
Going to a show inspires me. It teaches me to get off my ass and write, and edit, and practice; so that one day I can make people feel like I did in the audience. This is my training (also see inspiring conversations, art gallery visits, running while listening to music to get all my thoughts out in a physical way). Yesterday I danced by myself wearing a jumpsuit to commercial radio. It reminded me that sometimes, it's enough for a song to make someone feel good. This was my version of an accounting seminar. 

5. Give new ideas a chance. I am very critical of things I make, especially now that I'm learning what a good song is. But I need to make mistakes to learn. I need to get the bad ideas out and let them grow- that allows for the good ones to grow underneath. You can always write another one.

6. Fail. If you read any great artist's biography (the real one, not the publicized narrative that makes them out to be perfect), you read failure, failure, failure, breakthrough. Dr. Seuss getting laughed at for his silly drawings. Stravinsky causing a riot with his Rite of Spring. I figure I've got at least a good decade of passionate failing left before I have a real artistic breakthrough. So I'd better get started! 

I'll share more soon, this is just a start. What have you learned? I'd love to learn from you.

 

Hi, guess what.

Posted on by Elissa Mielke

Something magical happened!
I've finally found a path that could lead to a wonderful first album.

By some glorious act of God I find myself in a studio with three amazing producers & writers. They are geniuses, but humble ones- so I feel like my potential is celebrated while learning how little I actually know about songwriting.

I am finally exploring without walls. We're allowing my songs to be dance songs, electro songs, sad folk, modern hymns, moody rock- seeing where they come to life. Discovering where my music fits and where it doesn’t. 

As a result, my future tracks will sound different than what I’ve done in the past. I am discovering that I can make music with integrity and beauty, in a new way that I hadn't imagined. I hope you'll be open to growing with me.

I’m fortunate to be at the start of this process, where labels and managers don’t yet have their hand in what I create. So I am trying to fully develop a strong voice that has deep enough roots to stay strong- even when other voices join the discussion in the future.

I have one more show before I lay low for a little while to write and really focus on developing these songs. June 19 at Clinton's. It's a short set, just 20 mins.
Come by if you'd like to say hello. Cover is $10 but the bands are coming from far away so you might not get to hear them in this city for a while. Worth the money I think.

I wish you inspiration and joy on your journey, wherever you're at.
Thank you for supporting me.
 

Watch for a new update next week. 
I'll tell you how I stay motivated as a self-employed creative human, and fight off dragons of apathy & self-defeat. Learning!

Elissa

 

Interview with UK Mag

Posted on by Elissa Mielke

Hello there, I'm back in Canada!
I am grateful to Drunken Werewolf for the interview they did with me; makes me excited to visit the UK with my songs someday.
This was also the first interview where what I said wasn't edited or cut up. They left all my words, which was cool.
Read it below by clicking on the photo!

It's a New Year. How on earth did this happen.

Posted on by Elissa Mielke

Meow!
Firstly: I think I owe you all an update, especially with all the support and love coming in so far this year.

I loved playing my first show of 2013 at the Silver Dollar; it's inspiring to see more of you coming out to shows every time. 
I think secretly, performing is my favourite part of my process right now.
All the invisible work I do in my apartment suddenly comes to life in a new way once you're part of it.

But then other things happen live too, like I tell you about rediscovering spinach and accidentally including some spinach leaves with my demos. 
And my synth decides to sound totally different than when in soundcheck.
She has a mind of her own, that girl!
Thank you for coming and listening.
I've been going through show requests for the next few months- stay posted- there are some good ones coming up.

Some of you asked what in the world I've been up to. Also someone on YouTube insightfully noted that they were glad I hadn't disappeared off the face of the earth.
... I'm glad too. 
So here's a quick summary of what I'm up to while still existing:

  • Recording demos! Lots of them! And writing constantly, trying to get to know my keyboard and synths better.

  • Working on simple videos to update my Youtube channel with some performances that actually show what I can do! For now there are some song videos up like this one.

Keep checking back for updates, and I'll make sure you're updated. 
Let's make 2013 the year we do all the things we usually just talk about!

Love, Elissa