Ellise is a singer, songwriter and producer based in Los Angeles. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Ellise grew up on her dad's classic rock and her Iranian mom's traditional Arabic music while her own taste skewed poppier, influenced by the sounds and sights of the Y2K era. After graduating high school early to pursue music full time, she moved to Los Angeles, where she spent several years spent honing her craft in the studio before beginning to work in earnest on her debut album Chaotic alongside regular collaborator Micah Gordon. Written almost entirely by Ellise herself, the record has a distinctive point of view wrapped in some of pop's sleekest and most thrilling sounds, inspired by the music she's surrounded herself with over the past two years (think Ariana Grande, Lorde, Dominic Fike, Lana Del Rey, Amy Winehouse, and Flo Milli). Standout singles like "Bubblegum Brain," "Feeling Something Bad," and "Over Breakfast" present Ellise's blueprint as both expertly produced pop and highly intelligent ruminations on love, loss, and what it's like to feel flawed in a world that often demands perfection. Chaotic is certainly a product of a confident young artist steeped in pop's richest stock, but also a singer and songwriter whose clear-cut vision is imprinted on each of the album's songs.
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The best type of pop music removes us from reality and takes us into full-fledged, big-budget fantasy. Britney took us high into the skies with "Toxic." Christina stripped things down with "Dirrty." The stickier the production, the better; the more winking and subversive the lyrics, the longer the careers. As she grew up, Ellise took notes; watching her idols soar, she knew one day she'd be making the kind of moves they were. All it would take was some hard work, a vision, and the songs.
As she recorded what would become her debut album, Chaotic, Ellise took stock of what she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it. Influenced by the sounds and sights of the Y2K era, the 22-year-old Bay Area native had spent her childhood soaking up as much pop music as she could; after school, she'd set up an at-home karaoke machine to sing along to Top 40 hits. In early email addresses and AIM usernames, the words "pop" "star" and "Ellise" always managed to appear. "From a really young age, I always was like, 'I want to be a pop star, I want to be a pop star,'" she says with a grin. "When I was a teenager, I got my dad's old iPod and I went crazy as I started discovering the music that I liked."
After several years spent honing her craft in the studio, holding songs back as she found her voice and what she wanted to say in the process, she began work in earnest on Chaotic in late 2019 alongside regular collaborator Micah Gordon. Written almost entirely by Ellise herself (with the help of a tight team of co-writers and producers), Chaotic has a distinctive point of view wrapped in some of pop's sleekest and most thrilling sounds, inspired by the music she's surrounded herself with over the past two years (think 100 gecs, Ariana Grande, Dominic Fike, Lana Del Rey, Amy Winehouse, and Flo Milli). After being told by an early collaborator that she should "stick to singing," Ellise began penning lyrics. "I was like, 'Wait, I actually like doing this and should have been doing this the whole time,'" she says. "Honestly, it took me a second, but I remember the feeling of it hit me like, 'I shouldn't be insecure about this because I can definitely write.'"
Standout songs like "Bubblegum Brain," "Princess," and "Zipper Lips!" present Ellise's blueprint as both expertly produced pop and highly intelligent ruminations on love, loss, and what it's like to feel flawed in a world that often demands perfection. "I was just ready to move my sound to the next level," she says. "I felt like I had way more to give and just way more to say, that I'd been boxing myself in. With Chaotic, I was trying to get out of that box."
Chaotic is certainly a product of a confident young artist steeped in pop's richest stock, but also a singer and songwriter whose clear-cut vision is imprinted on each of the album's songs. "My music is me using fiction to romanticize everything that's boring, at the intersection of pop, R&B, hyper-pop, and alternative -- with an emphasis on the lyrics" she says. Because if you look beyond the luster, she says, you'll find lyrical depth, metaphorical maturity, and substance so pure and concrete you'll wonder how such a well-executed vision could fit into such shimmering packaging.
But the packaging was always part of the plan, Ellise says; with each song she recorded, she'd already begun concepting, plotting, and mood-boarding their music videos. Filmed on concurrent days in late 2020, the "Bubblegum Brain" and "Feeling Something Bad" visuals draw on Ellise's admiration for the pop spectacles of yesterday, incorporating easter eggs like a cameo by Drag Race champion Shea Couleé (hurling knives at her on camera) and movement coaching by Pussycat Dolls member Carmit Bachar into her vision. "I just wanted to be in crazy makeup and over the top looks all the time," she says, remembering the shoot. "The whole day was four hours of glam, 20 minutes of shooting, back to glam for four hours, 15 minutes of shooting."
Though all things Ellise add up to one of the most exciting projects in recent pop memory, she's quick to clarify that this is just Phase One in what's sure to be a career filled with peaks. "I never want to be the good guy all the time," she says. "I think it's okay to say that and let people know who you are. For now, I want to just keep making music that feels like me, that I feel like is special and that I feel like people will enjoy. This Ellise universe that I'm building out is just getting started."