East of Eli: An Interview – Part 2 of 2

Part 1 of this article can be found here. The following interview has been condensed for this article.

You started out in acting, one of the things you might be recognized for is Bring It On, did you always know you wanted to focus on music or was there something that changed?

I’ve always been a music lover, as much as I love to play, I love to listen, I love to find new bands, I love to support independent music, even mainstream, everything. Acting was great, but it was kind of like a rebound. I grew up playing hockey, it kind of fell apart and I didn’t know what to do. I kind of fell into the acting world and it ended up being my mainstream income very fast. I wasn’t as passionate about it as I was about music, over time I started to pull back and focus on my music, make that transition.

What was it that scared you about music?

What scared me was the honesty, the authenticity behind it. The most amazing performances we see in film are letting you go behind the front that people put on. They’re connecting you to something they feel, they’re pulling from an emotion they know, something they’ve been through. Acting; I have nothing but respect for the art form, but you could kind of play it off that it was the character, I could always hide behind the character. Whereas doing music, it was like this is me.

What message would you want people who are unfamiliar with your work to take away from your music, if you could pick one thing?

It’s okay to be you, no matter where you’re at. Whether it’s good or… There are peaks and valleys. You wouldn’t know where it was to stand victorious on a peak if you didn’t know the lowest of the lows of a valley. Life tends to have polar opposites; the highest peak in the world, the deepest trench, but as you go through life it’s not as drastic. You can be in a good place but be in a low place too. That’s part of the journey. My biggest message; I’m not perfect. I’ve had this long journey to realize I’m okay with my faults, I’m learning, I’m growing, and I’m not giving up on myself.

What are your thoughts on the intimacy of your gigs? At times it feels like you’re the only one in the room.

If this ever gets to the stadium size, I will never stop playing these shows. They’re too important to me. The big shows are, obviously for business great, and to reach that many people would be incredible. But I honestly love these shows, and I will forever do them. An EOE warning is you might be more part of the show than you think because you’re close to the front.

You implied [during the show] that the closest song to your heart right now is Trenches, why is that?

I wanted people to understand I’m not some kind of guru, I’m not perfect. That’s why I write these songs, because it can’t just be this bad, it’s gotta get better. I write from a depressed place. The Siege came from a place where I was ready to quit, to give up on everything. My dad, when he was here, was always on fire about believing in yourself, about self-help stuff. He encouraged me, he was like you can’t give up, this is what you’re meant to do. That’s why the chorus isCarry on”. Then it became a song for my father. It came from a broken place. And so, Trenches, was kind of looking myself in the mirror.

You also said The Silent Kind is your favourite, so why is that?

That song is very dear to my heart because I was in a very broken place. The song was written about a young woman in New York. I had gone out, I’d had a really rough day. It was like two, three in the morning. I saw this woman uncontrollably sobbing. She’d been through a break-up, been cheated on. We walked and talked, and she shared everything. I got her an Uber to her place, gave her a hug, and we parted ways. The next day I grabbed my guitar and within ten minutes sound kinda came out and I wrote about that experience and things I was feeling. I like the silent life, there are no problems. When you’re by yourself, your problems kinda go away. It’s an honest statement; it’s the truth but not the best truth. You can’t avoid people. We need connection. But sometimes, dammit, you just want to disappear.

Before Nothing Ordinary, you said that was one you used to hate. What is it that makes artists hate their work, and why does maybe distance or time help that?

I think a lot of the time, artists speak from a place that is beyond their own selves. Nothing Ordinary was beyond my comprehension at the time. I definitely felt it, I definitely wrote it. I was in a place where there was nothing really happy about where I was in life. I started writing the music and the words started coming together, and it felt special at the time, but then because I couldn’t believe it for myself. I didn’t really like myself so the idea of ‘life is extraordinary’, felt cheesy or not true. But no, actually it is [true]. It might be so simple it’s hard to grasp. People started requesting it and I had to come to grips with that there was something special about this song.

To find out more or purchase tickets to see East of Eli: https://eastofeli.com/

Pandora Ogg

Featured image courtesy of Atomic Taco via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. Image license found here

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