One-on-One with Elwyn

Enchanting and mesmerising, Elwyn’s long-awaited single ‘Never Gonna Bring Me Down’ is like a modern-day twist on Florence & The Machine.

Perth-based, Elwyn is known for her indie-pop sound, voice and lyrical genius that speaks a sense of maturity well beyond her years.

Exploding onto the music scene in 2017 with the soulful melodies and catchy hooks of ‘Higher Ground’. Since then, she has been constantly immersing herself in her passion and striving to grow her skill, travelling to California to teach at Girls Rock! in which she was a founding member in Perth.

While in the US, she recorded in LA and played three sold-out shows proving she has what it takes to step up to the international stage.

We were just a tad excited when this mega-talented gal slid into our DM’s promoting her new single, we decided to sit down and have a chat about all things touring and music.

Hi Elwyn, how are you going?

Hello, I’m very well thank you! Very busy writing, rehearsing, recording and preparing to hit the road again!

What drew you into the music industry?

I come from a family of music lovers. My Dad is a rocker from the 70s and has been in the same band since 1976. I grew up playing shows with them singing Rock and Roll. As soon as I got a taste of performing live music I was hooked.

What music did you listen to growing up and why do you think you listened to these artists?

The music I listened to growing up was basically whatever my parents played in the car on the way to school which was Led Zeppelin, Cream, David Bowie, The Commodores and Elton John, I fell in love with the powerful vocals and lyrics.

Your latest single, ‘Never Gonna Bring Me Down’ – how did the song evolve?

I wrote ‘Never Gonna Bring Me Down’ back in 2015 driving home from WAAPA when I received a phone call from a friend in tears. She began telling me that my recent ex (at the time) had made her feel very uncomfortable at a party. I was so disgruntled this had happened to her that the lyrics and melody just poured out of me.

When I got home I grabbed a guitar and worked out the chords and ‘Never Gonna Bring Me Down’ was born. I then made a very fiery phone call to my ex demanding that he explain himself and apologise for what had happened.

What is the song’s main message?

The song’s main message is about finding true happiness on your own and no matter what happens I’ll never let anything bring me down. As a young woman, society has instilled into us that, as women, we could never be happy being independent or without having a partner in our lives which is simply not true. 

You’re also a vocal mentor for Girls Rock! WA – tell us a bit about what Girls Rock WA is and how it came about?

Yes, I’m a huge advocate for Girls Rock!

Girls Rock! is a movement that started in Portland, Oregon in 2001 as a summer camp. The mission is all about empowering young women and gender diverse people to build confidence and self-esteem in an inclusive, creative space. I’ve mentored in Vocals and Band Coaching at Girls Rock! in Melbourne and Santa Barbara, California. I became involved earlier this year when Girls Rock! WA’s director, Em Burrows posted a status asking if anyone would be interested in volunteering and obviously I was immediately invested.

From your perspective and from what you’ve seen, what opportunities has Girls Rock provided for young aspiring female musicians?

Girls Rock! is so important for these kids. All of the mentors have said that if we had a program like this when we were at that age things would’ve been a lot easier. The amazing messages I’ve received from past campers is huge.

Being a teenager is such a hard stage in our lives because you’re constantly being judged by your peers while trying to figure out who you are and want to be. The Girls Rock! culture creates a space for these kids to express themselves freely in a completely safe environment without  judgment while also getting mentored by industry professionals.

Have you ever experienced struggles coming up into the music industry as a young female? Why do you think that was so or not so?

I have definitely experienced struggles as a young female in the industry, sexism being the largest.

One thing that I still experience today is people messaging me to tick a box. I have literally been sent messages from bands asking, ‘Hey, is Elwyn available to play this date? Because we need a female fronted band to book this gig. You’ll be on first so if you could try to pull a crowd that would be great.‘ When I receive these messages my first thought is, they don’t really like my music and just want me to simply tick a box.

Another thing that sucks is getting to a gig and the sound person completely ignoring you and asking the guys in your project what’s the set-up, in which they always have to reply with, “I don’t know, I’m not Elwyn, I play for Elwyn, you should ask her”.

I’ve also been bullied while collaborating with other songwriters. Until I became a part of Girls Rock!, I didn’t have the nerve to speak up about how I thought the songs should sound and was constantly told that I was wrong.

You travelled to California and LA recently and recorded some tracks and played three sold-out shows – what was the biggest lesson you took from your music experiences over in the states?

I think that the biggest life lesson I’ve learnt since travelling the states is the importance of backing yourself in everything you do and not being afraid of rejection.

At the beginning of this year nothing was going right for me, I nearly gave up my music career altogether because I was putting in so much work and effort to get heard and getting nothing in return.

I never thought for the life of me that in a few months I’d be on a plane to the other side of the world mentoring at Girls Rock!, playing sold out shows and recording. But it was all because I believed in myself and worked really fucking hard to get there, and even if it didn’t work out, at least I could say that I gave it a shot.

What has been you most favourite venue you’ve performed at so far in your career and why?

That’s a tough one…. I’ve played in so many gorgeous places in the past two years. I’d having to say that performing at the mountains in Ojai definitely takes the cake, not because it was the biggest crowd, but being outside amongst all that nature is incredible. I even got a little tattoo of the mountains, I loved it so much!

Any surprises coming up in the near future?

I’ve got some fun things happening for the rest of the year. I’m releasing a music video for my newest single ‘Never Gonna Bring Me Down’ later this month. The video was shot in California with the incredible Laura-Lynn Petrick (A Canadian/Los Angeles based film maker).

I will be touring Melbourne with my band in November and due to popular demand, I’ve added a surprise single launch in Fremantle which I’ll be announcing soon. I’m also heading down to Albany in December to play a show at Six Degrees. I went to school in Albany for four years and haven’t played a show there since graduating so this one is going to be super special!

Finally, for those aspiring to make music a career, what would be your number one piece of advice?

The biggest bit of advice I’d give someone wanting to work in the music industry is to trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, then there’s probably a damn good reason as to why you feel that way.

Don’t let anyone tell you to not be sensitive. This is our work place and we deserve to be heard and feel safe in it just like everyone else.

Also, I know it sounds cliché but just keep trying, writing and performing. It’s the only way to grow and get better. Go out to see live music, make friends with other musicians and be yourself because YOU ROCK!

Go get your ears plugged into Elwyn’s ‘Never Gonna Bring Me Down’ HERE.

Don’t forget to jump on Elwyn’s Soundcloud to hear all her tunes.

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