We Chat To Ellise, Innocent Pop Princess and Queen of Social Media
"Being called a drama queen is not an insult"
Bubble gum. Face jewels. Pearls. Pink, long nails and black, big boots. Meet Ellise, whose dreamy voice and dark girly aesthetics make her a new princess of pop. She talks to us about drag RuPaul’s Drag Race, fast fashion and heartbreaks. Make sure to check her newest single 'Feeling Something Bad...' and her fashion hacks she shared with us – you’ll thank us later!
Hey Ellise, what’s the last ‘bad feeling’ you experienced? I can go first and admit that mine was probably jealousy.
The last bad feeling I experienced was definitely heartbreak. I’m actually still going through it and all the other bad feelings that go along with it.
The reason why I’m asking is that your newest single, ‘Feeling Something Bad...’ has recently come out. You describe it as your breakthrough is song-writing. How did you arrive at that place?
I was listening to a lot of new music genres that I usually don’t listen to, and meshing all those sounds together is what made me want to make something like 'Feeling Something Bad....' I wrote the song very quickly, as soon as I got in the studio that day the ideas were just flowing! It was a very natural feeling.
The lyrical inspiration behind ‘Feeling Something Bad...’ is your crush on someone you barely knew. You also add that you love dramatizing little everyday feelings in life. Do you feel like as women we’re often stigmatized for being ‘overdramatic’? Have you ever been described as a ‘drama queen’?
I have definitely been called a drama queen! And you know what, I am one and I don’t take it as an insult. As women we’re always called overdramatic, extra, crazy. But I think feeling emotions heavily and being sensitive is part of what makes me who I am. I experience both lows and highs very strongly.
Did you experience the double standards on emotional expression between men and women?
Obviously, men will try to demonize women for anything and everything, even something completely normal like human emotion. I think it's powerful to be in touch with your emotional self, and there’s nothing wrong with owning it.
As an artist, you seem to embrace, reclaim and twist this friendly stigmatized concept of ‘drama queen’ or ‘cute psycho.’
Yes!! I definitely use my sensitive emotional self to my advantage both in my music and visuals. When I’m going through my worst times, I make my best art.
Both the song and the music video itself reveal that you don’t treat yourself seriously. How has this attitude helped you to develop your career?
Nothing in life is serious. We’re all little dots on a rock in space. My mantra is just to put my best foot forward and make cool stuff that I enjoy, and if anyone else can relate and enjoy it too, it’s an added bonus.
Both ‘Feeling Something Bad...’ and your previous single, ‘Bubblegum Brain’ are very consistent with each other, not only musically, but also aesthetically. What do they reveal about your upcoming album? What else can we expect?
‘Bubblegum Brain’ and ‘Feeling Something Bad’ are both some of the most upbeat songs on the album. They represent one piece of my sound, which is the high energy pop that I love. There are other types of sounds on the album, softer and more emotional, orchestral, lots of harmonies, and gut-wrenching lyrics.
Generally though, contrary to many artists nowadays, both megastars and newcomers, you seem to be extremely consistent and definitive in your art. ‘Feeling Something Bad...’ and ‘Bubblegum Brain’ correspond not only to each other but also to your previous Halloween EPs. The voice effect, piano out-of-tune, sweet voice and strong percussion help to develop a performative and distinct style of the innocent pop princess. How did you discover this persona and what helps you to create such a consistent image?
Honestly, my image has always just been what comes naturally to me. I’ve always been into the dark nitty-gritty. I also have always loved for things pink and girly. I’ve consistently mixed those two sides of myself together to create the image I have. I’ve evolved it over time and plan on continuing to do so, and I trust my own instincts enough to just let myself do what comes organically to me and hope it carries over into all creative facets of my life.
I’ve also noticed that you consistently choose shorter forms – your songs and music videos are max 3 minutes long and straight to the point. As a queen of social media, do you feel like the attention span of today’s audience has become significantly shorter?
I don’t really take the length of my songs into account while making them - I feel like you shouldn’t add more unless it actually makes the song stronger, so if it’s short, it’s short! My generation's attention span is definitely much shorter, probably thanks to apps like tiktok and other forms of short-form video content.
Is it something we should be worried about?
I don’t really find it to be an issue. Times always change and different generations consume different forms of media. If anything, I think it’s forcing artists and creators to get more creative with how they use such short amounts of time to grab people’s attention.
How does it apply to your visuals? In the music video to ‘Bubblegum Brain,’ for example, your signature, kitschy, sweet yet bold aesthetics has been supported by the presence of drag superstar Shea Couleé, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 5. How did that collaboration happen and what can you tell us about it?
Shea was a dream to have on set! She brought so much energy and life to the video. We actually met on set and I was so excited that she was down to be in the video. Since then, we’ve written some music together and I’m so happy to be working with them on their upcoming music.
Do you see any points of convergence between your style and drag culture?
I’d say the crossover between my aesthetic and drag is just the extra-ness of it all. I’ve always loved the campiness of drag and definitely pull inspiration from it!
A visual side of your work seems to be a crucial part of your art then. How do music videos and fashion enable your self-expression? In what ways do they support your music?
I’m a hugely visual person and I’ve always lived for aesthetics. Every time I write a song, I already have the music video concept planned out in my head. I’d like to be known as an artist whose music and visuals go hand in hand, always complimenting each other. I don’t think I could make music without the aesthetics to support it. The two feels of equal importance to me.
What is the importance of your fashion style in it? How would you define it?
I’d say my style is sort of similar to my music: a little dark and edgy but also, very girly and polished.
Do you have any favourite accessories, brands or fashion hacks?
I absolutely love shopping on apps and sites like Depop and Etsy, also secondhand designer shops like TheRealReal and TreasursOfNYC. I’ve actually almost completely stopped fast fashion shopping in the past year and have started buying mostly from small indie businesses, not only to support them but also is to be more environment-friendly. The pieces are so much more personal and sometimes even 1 of 1! Some small businesses I love are Malicious Designs, Harlot Hands and Rhi Dancey. All female-owned!
Can you share any fashion hacks with us?
Turn fishnets into an undershirt with sleeves by ripping a hole in the crotch and pulling it over your head!