We all love an artist that can pour their heart and soul into their music. We also love an artist that can transcend music and make you feel what they’re feeling. What’s great about Elujay is that he effortlessly does both. He’s a rare find in today’s music landscape, which is filled with artists looking for quick fame and mass popularity. As I listened to Elujay’s discography, I could tell that music wasn’t just a promising profession to him, but instead an honest dream read out loud for us to experience. When someone’s craft is that ingrained into their essence, a genuine artist is born.
His most recent project, “Adojio,” give us access to Elujay’s own self-reflection, as well as his sincere experiences with life and love. I had the chance to sit down with him and discuss what personal perception looks like and what music means to him.
SC: What did your creative journey first look like? How did it begin to transform into making music?
E: Since I was a child, I’ve always been very creative. Whether it was painting or making movies — like little shorts on a VHS camera with my friends and uploading it to YouTube. And then I got this beat making program from my friend. I don’t know, I’ve always been inspired to make music because I listen to a lot of music, I listen to a lot of different genres. And then it just kind of transpired into making and producing music, and creating something from nothing.
SC: So you say you listen to all different genres. Do you think you have one that impacted you the most?
E: Probably neo-soul and hip-hop. It’s like a mixture of both.
SC: You frequently talk about making and supporting music that is honest. What makes a song honest?
E: I think it’s a direct reflection of the way a person perceives life, or their dreams or reality. I really don’t think that it has to be like, “what I ate yesterday was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich so I’m gonna write about eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Like it can just be whatever. If you have a dream about something and you see yourself in a different light or you had this epiphany about something, that’s your perception and no one can tell you that it’s wrong.
SC: How do you channel your own truth into your music?
E: Well my intention is purely genuine. I don’t want to make it for any type of monetary amount or to please anybody. It’s just like, I’m making it for myself. I find the meaning in things that I can place replay value on.
SC: Although you’re a hip-hop artist, I noticed you incorporate soul into your songs and it comes off quite organic. Was that a natural path for you?
E: It was natural because that’s just what my family played all the time around me. So it’s kind of hard to shake Stevie Wonder off, and Earth, Wind & Fire and stuff like that, out of my bones. Like this was the stuff I kind of grew up on.
SC: What is your process for creating a song?
E: My process for creating a song starts with a chord progression and then a melody. It’s usually very minimal stuff, maybe some drums and a chord progression. And then a melody just kind of comes together. I just get other people to come in to help me with the other instrumentation. Whether it needs more guitar, more piano… stuff I can’t really figure out on my own. I do like to collaborate with a lot of musicians. Musicians are like the golden piece in a lot of my music. It’s just like the very backbone of the songs and how they’re created. Because I’ll usually scratch stuff from the initial chord progression and I’ll have somebody expand on it or take it in a different direction.
SC: Does an idea for a song or a melody have to come naturally to you or do you try to sit down like, “Okay, I’m gonna write a song and it’s gonna be about this.”
E: I kind of just let it happen. If I think of an idea, I’ll just kind of lay it down and it’ll just happen.
SC: When making a song, is there ever a particular feeling that you’re seeking to emote?
E: Like a feel good type of feeling. I just want to make people feel good about themselves. Whether you’re cruising in the whip and you wanna turn on some jams to make you just get a little more in the mood, or smile a bit. That’s what I’m all about.
SC: How does your new album, “Adojio,” differ from your previous project “Jentrify?”
E: This album has a lot more singing on it. I guess there’s more jazzy production — there’s a lot more harmonizing. It’s really good compared to “Jentrify.”I really think it was a level up for me. All the records have a story behind them so I think that’s pretty cool.
SC: Is there an observable evolution listeners can notice?
E: Yeah. I mean, it all comes down to their perception. They can see it as evolving or demoting. I think a lot of people will see it as an evolution though, because it’s more cohesive, and I feel like I’m more confident in my voice.
SC: What inspired the project? Is there a meaning behind the name?
E: What inspired the project was a lot of Frank Ocean, Cosmo Pyke, The Internet, Björk — they all were a big influence on that. Stevie Wonder, Pharrell, any R&B… those are like the main influences. The meaning behind the album name is it translates to slow-tempo in Italian. But it’s spelled differently — it has a “J” instead of a “G.” It also has another meaning, like a slow progression. To me it represents a slow progression to our goals, but like done successfully and actively.
SC: Your song “Blu” touches upon contemplating love. What was the inspiration behind that song?
E: I started writing it and it just kind of wrote itself. There wasn’t really a lot of thinking behind it. I was thinking about how it would feel hearing a perspective of loving someone but not knowing if you really love them. That was the initial feeling it gave me.
SC: You’re an Oakland native. How has the Bay Area shaped your artistry?
E: It gave me a sense of wisdom. I got to see all walks of life, be inspired by different people that I’d see in the street. Being in such a diverse place can give you that feeling.
SC: What do you hope people take away from your music?
E: I hope that people can feel good about themselves and be like, “You know, this guy makes some cool tunes.” But I don’t really want to dwell on what people should take away from it, I just feel like they should live with the music. I don’t really think too deeply about it.
SC: What is one piece of advice you would give to new artists?
E: Just keep your time in the music and don’t let too many people in on your ideas, unless they’re helpful or creative. It can be very troublesome when you have people who are aren’t necessarily involved in seeing your music grow, but they just want to be a part of the moment. I think the best thing you can do is just make the best art possible and don’t worry about the outcome.