By: Andrew Weir (Styling by: Kyla Atlas, Alyssa Trivelli and Jess Arnold) –
Elissa Mielke has a very familiar face. She has collaborated with some of the best talent to come out of Toronto, from photographers Mark Peckmezian and Thomas Van Der Zaag to musicians like The Weeknd and Drake. This past winter saw Mielke’s likeness pop up all over the city as the face of a national Roots campaign. But Mielke has always seen herself first as a musician, singing sad melodic songs and playing piano. Behind the scenes she has been hard at work on her first major album release. We chatted about her new EP, Mieke (out in late May), her upcoming film Minor, and artistic identity.
You’re finishing up your EP – do you have any release plans for it?
I have some label interest. But for now I want to have all of the tracks mixed and see who will release it. Honestly, I would love to do it quietly. I was thinking more about maybe doing it under a different name. Like how Blood Orange releases projects under different titles.
Are you excited to get your new tracks out there?
Yeah! There are some really dark songs on the EP that are really powerful. I always wanted to feel more powerful and so I feel excited about that. I’ve also been making choirs with my voice with vocal layers that I’m really into.
What would you compare it to?
One label made me sound a little bit like Ellie Goulding, but I realized that I like more natural sounds. In New York they thought I might sound like Katy Perry. But like…No not at all…. First of all I can’t dance sexy.
With the release of the film Minor, there is interest about doing a corresponding album or single release because my songs are all throughout the movie.
Can you give us a synopsis of your upcoming film Minor?
It’s about two teenage girls that live in a small town. I’m 15 and I’ve been writing songs alone in my room and I am a bit naïve and hopeful but also a wannabe. I meet this girl who convinces me to steal my brothers limousine, a 1995 Cadillac limo and we drive it across the United States to LA. So we actually drove in this limousine with a whole crew and drove across the United States. We played shows in little towns like Alamogordo, New Mexico to a group of cowboys in a karaoke bar. Each time I played as my character Farah.
Was it weird having a fictional character sing your songs?
Figuring out how a 15-year-old girl sing my songs felt really weird. That was hard because I also had an urge to show my own confidence as a singer and a musician. In one case we played a live show where as part of the script I screwed up to a room full of people while wearing a gold crop top.
Do you find that you’re seeking out feedback at this stage in your career?
Lately I seek out feedback a lot. I was just doing some writing in New York with a major producer. We were trying to write hits [laughs] which, I realize is not my goal in life, but I learned a lot from him. And he was so honest with me and was quick to say “no, that will never work. Where’s you hit? Why’s this good?”
You have to balance the fact that you know yourself and these people know good songs. That’s scary for me.
Have you ever written a song that scares you?
I had a friend challenge me to write an offensive songs because I’m scared of offending people. So I wrote a song that was entirely swear words and like my darkest thoughts. No one has heard it. But just the fact that it exists is good.
Elissa Mielke performs at The Drake Hotel in Toronto tonight (April 26) with David Vertesi (of Hey Ocean!), and Gursky. 8pm.