Ellysa Rose: By Any Other Name Would Be as Sweet
Going into this interview, I was a little bit nervous. I have known Ellysa Rose for several months now, and she has become a dear friend, so my nervousness was completely unnecessary. Nevertheless, there it was. We did our interview via Skype, as at the time of the interview she was still visiting her home in Indiana for the holidays. We were both dressed to impress in sweats, with our hair undone and no make up. We spent about thirty minutes just catching up as I cooked myself dinner. I could do this, it’s just my sweet friend Ellysa, right?
It was time, so I tested out the recording on my phone. It worked.
Me: “So, first off, how old are you?”
Ellysa: “I am eighteen years old!”
I giggled awkwardly. What a thought provoking question. Thankfully, the rest of the interview went a whole lot smoother, and Ellysa answered each question thoughtfully, with passion and sincerity. I could not have asked for a better person to interview for my first Friendship Friday! If you would like to check out her newly released single, “Blinded”, follow this link: http://bit.ly/ERBlinded. Her latest music video (with over 700,000 views), is posted below. Keep reading to find out more about Ellysa’s journey so far as both an artist and a person!
One thing I have loved about Ellysa, from the moment I met her, is just how comfortable she is being herself. Born in Michigan, she spent the first twelve years of her life traveling extensively, and living in the United States, Japan and England. With maturity and wisdom beyond her 18 years, she admitted that she has not always been so confident, and that gaining that confidence was a process. “Music is sort of my language of confidence,” she said.
“(With) Music, you have to be transparent. When you step on that stage, if you are not completely vulnerable and open to the audience, no one wants to hear you….”
She continued, “I had to come to terms with that and be comfortable enough to be myself, and show others that they can be comfortable enough to be themselves. They don’t need to please anyone except for themselves, their hearts and God.”
This from the girl who was frequently harassed and discouraged by her peers due to her ineffable cheer and openness. “I was always very open, and people saw that as an opportunity to beat me down…I started to see the world as only people who wanted to bring me down. I became a mean, sour person-I wouldn’t have liked me.” That’s when she took a step back to examine her life and the people she was surrounding herself with. Upon doing so, she came to a poignant realization.
“Other people are going to try hard enough to hold me back, I’m not going to be the one to hold myself back.”
At 14, Ellysa decided to set aside the fears and insecurities she had about singing, to pursue schooling at Interlochen Center for the Arts, located in northern Michigan. According to their website, Interlochen is home to “a fine arts boarding high school offering the highest quality artistic training combined with comprehensive, college-preparatory academics”. There was only one problem: Ellysa’s family did not have the money to send her to this prestigious boarding school. With fervor and determination, she went about raising the money for herself.
That summer, she created a Facebook page for her funds, nannied, busked at various festivals and raised money towards going to Interlochen Center for the Arts. Unfortunately, she did not make enough. The following school year, she humbly returned back to her school and continued working for the tuition fees. That year, she refused to surround herself with negative influences, and focused on becoming her own person. By the time fall came the next year, she was ready. She attended Interlochen through her junior year, when she decided to leave the school and join her family in Indiana for her final year of high school.
That summer, Ellysa and her mom came out to Los Angeles to tour some college campuses. Within three weeks, she got an agent for acting, and the plans to live in Indiana quickly changed as her family decided to split their living arrangements between Indiana (where her father works) and Los Angeles (where Ellysa now lives with her mother and younger brother), taking turns visiting each other.
“L.A. is my place, it’s my city. As soon as I moved here, I became me…I chose to believe in myself, I didn’t wait for anybody else to.”
When asked about acting, Ellysa said, “I’ve wanted to be an actress my whole life…but right now my music career is taking off a lot faster…and I’m totally okay with that.” Given the fact that she has already landed several acting gigs, including a major Google ad, I would say it’s just a matter of time before that takes off as well.
“I considered myself a songwriter who sang, because I didn’t consider myself good enough to be a singer…”
One of the things I most love about music, is that it has the ability to transcend barriers. Ellysa’s unique voice and honest lyrics are such that you often walk away inspired to look at things differently. With so many “fluff” type songs circulating today, and the rising popularity of auto-tuned artists her age who do not write any of their own songs, I was interested to hear about her process of creating music.
“There’s the more selfish aspect where I get to be introspective and check in with myself, and really get down to business of how I’m feeling. I always say that when I write it feels like I’m meditating. Because afterwards, I can’t even remember how I wrote the song and I sort of freak out and wonder if I’ll ever write another good song again…and then next week, you know, I write another one. I guess I just love being in the moment and expressing yourself in such a vulnerable way, so that you can see your situation more clearly.
And then on the other end, I love sharing my music, because a lot of times. something that I’m going through-like in ‘Be Free’ where I felt like the world was trying to crush me down and I wrote that song to express how I can’t just let creativity go to waste, and I can’t basically be a sell out. A lot of people…have expressed to me how much it’s helped them…and I love that, because often times in this world we can feel so alone.”
“I do music for other people…to show love and hope to people through a language that transcends so many barriers.”
“A lot of times we take music for granted. And we take words for granted. Because they hold so much power, but there’s also so many of them. They’re free, so they become very cheap to us very quickly. I think that that’s how we write songs that are just fluff songs. I’ll admit that I love many a fluff song. There’s a place for happy, fluffy songs that just make you feel good and you want to sing along. However, I think…we have an absence of music that has heart because nobody really wants to look in the mirror and face who they are. And that’s a hard thing to do. And that’s a hard thing to admit to thousands of listeners.”
“I think the ‘what ifs’ keep people from doing the positive ‘what ifs’.”
“What if I don’t step out on that stage? What if I don’t ever reach my true potential? And that is what we should be fearing-what if we never reach our true potential? That’s scarier to me than failing, because I’ve done that a million times and I can do it again and again. Something we need to be more focused on is that we only have one life. And in essence, there are no rules. There’s aligning ourselves and our hearts with God, but God doesn’t want us to sit in a desk our whole life-unless that’s our dream!”
“What ifs” are something I know a good deal about, as evidenced by an Instagram post Ellysa referenced during our interview. They have the tendency to hold us back from being who we were created to be, and doing what we were created to do. Holding us back from things like having a dream, or idea, and doing what needs to be done to make that dream a reality. Ellysa recently had a dream to organize a concert for which the artists would promote the show as whole, versus promoting solely their act. She contacted various artists to collaborate with her, and asked a friend to MC for the evening, keeping the flow of the show going. On January 10, 2014, the first ever “Winter Storm” was a huge success. The room was bristling with excitement as each artist shared their music with a new crowd–a crowd that may not have discovered them if not for this show.
Reasons Be “can’t wait until next year.” Sean Patrick Ryan, who has been managing Reasons Be for over three years, said of the concept: “Cohesive, co-promoted shows are the best way to build a fan base. Ellysa proved that model with Winter Storm 2014 and packed the house!”
The Reasons Be music video for their original song “Say Goodnight” recently won “Music Video of the Year” at the International Music and Entertainment Association Awards (IMEA). Congrats, guys!
During her portion of the show, Ellysa incorporated her music videos by having them projected on the wall as she performed the songs live. Each video was well received and enhanced the whole experience. Rebecca Black has her place, but Ellysa’s vulnerable originality and drive is already setting her apart. Another thing that sets her apart is her passion to connect with her fans via social media, because, she says that at the end of the day, “I’m just a fan who happens to sing and write.”
“If a person walked up to you and said, ‘I love your music’, would you just ignore them and walk away? Of course not! You’d say thank you! So I think in social media, if you can respond to every person who tweets you, try. That’s what I try to do. It doesn’t always happen…but any person that tweets me I try to respond…or at least favorite their tweet to let them know I saw it. Everyone’s time is valuable.“
I follow Ellysa on Twitter, and with over 20,000 followers, she really does make a huge effort to reply to or acknowledge each mention. Hoping to remind each of those trying to connect with her that they are loved, valued and important.
When it comes to advice for people looking to break into the music scene in L.A., Ellysa encourages artists to: “Just play any show you can…you just have to be up for anything, because you never know when an opportunity is going to happen.”
As far as songwriting goes, she recommends doing what feels best for you. Everyone has a different voice and a different process. Laughing, she said, “I wish I knew exactly what my process was!”
“A lot of times it just comes from one snippet, I’ll hear something in my head…that’s the catalyst and it just kind of moves on from there…Or I’ll be fooling around on the piano, playing, improvising and just basically dancing around with my voice…and then something will pop out at me and I’ll base a song around that. But it all comes from one spark.”
In addition to pursuing her careers as a singer-songwriter and as an actress, Ellysa has just started taking classes at UCLA. She is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Film and Television. With a rather broad worldview for her 18 years, she said, “I think no matter what your opinions are (about politics), no matter what way you’re swayed, you need to make those opinions for yourself.”
“If you don’t know what’s going on, even in your own country, it makes your world very small and it makes it very easy for each day to be about ourselves and not about other people and not about love, but about what I want, what I need and what I’m going to do. Whereas, when you get involved in politics, you start to care about the future of our country and how we interact with other countries around the world.
It (travel/living in other countries) allows you to see people who live in different ways than yourself, so rather than seeing things as wrong, you see it as different and unique…There’s a respect and worldliness that’s lost if you’re not involved in politics.”
To finish up our interview, I asked our acting, song-writing, singing, philosophical, political activist friend one final question.
Me: “If you could only share one thing with the world, and that would be the last thing you could ever share, what would it be?”
Ellysa: “Be free enough to choose who you want to be. Be free enough to make the decisions, in a smart way, that make you who you are. Don’t always take the easy way out. It may seem easy, but in the long run will bring you a lot of regret. And the hard decisions, when you make the right decisions, pay off the biggest.”
And with those words of wisdom, enjoy a few Fun Facts! Let me know what you think of this post, Ellysa and Ellysa’s new single, “Blinded“, in the comments below!
Born in Royal Oak, Michigan.
At 3, moved to Yokohama, Japan.
At 6, moved to Leamington Spa, England.
At 8, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
At 10, Leamington Spa, England.
At 12, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
At 16, moved to Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan when family moved to Chicago area.
Lived in Chicago briefly before moving to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles leaves her speechless.
Favorite role in a musical during her time at Interlochen was JoJo in Seussical the Musical.
Can touch the tip of her tongue to the bottom of her chin.
Has Raynaud’s Phenomenon, which cuts of circulation to her hands and feet if she doesn’t properly gauge the temperature and dress appropriately.
When asked what her career highlight is as a singer-songwriter at this point:
“If I have to choose a highlight up until now…the rational part of me wants to say the ‘Be Free’ music video getting over 700,000 views-which is amazing and I’m really proud of it. But I think my highlight would be the Google+ hang out that I did (Watch the hangout). One of my biggest fans won the opportunity to ask me a question live, on the air, she runs my biggest fan Twitter (account) and lives in Brazil. I answered live Twitter questions. And then I got to play three songs. It was really fun, I had an awesome time!”
“Be Free” is her life motto.
Her favorite Scripture is Matthew 6:25-34.
Lots of Love,