Living Room Live Virtual Concert Series and Q&A: Elliot Lee

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Elliot Lee performed an acoustic set as part of Stage Right Secrets‘ Living Room Live Virtual Concert Series and gives us an exclusive Q&A. Check out her performance and interview, below.

Tell us all about “Good Bad Ugly.”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to everyone around us and feeling inadequate in so many ways. I made this song to remind myself and others that everyone is facing a life full of many twists and turns, and our perceptions of people don’t always reveal the darkness that they’re most likely facing or have endured in the past. The video is a way to call people to action by supporting those who are not always given a voice and a platform to talk about that darkness, and to let everyone know I’m here to talk about it all.

You recently raised money for BLM charity through your art, how did that come about?

I’ve been supporting the BLM movement for years now, and to watch it rapidly gain support like it has the past few weeks has been so deeply moving to me. I was stuck in a small town in Florida for a while when it first started gathering global attention recently, and I was frustrated with my inability to contribute to the momentum. So I donated to the Black Visions Collective, but it still didn’t feel like enough. I wanted to somehow find a way to pool together resources to donate. I’ve been drawing a lot to vent lately anyway, and realized that I could use my art as a vehicle not only for mental health awareness but for charity as well. It went really well, so far our little Bubblegum Army has been able to donate $800 together!!
You’re outspoken about mental health advocacy, how do you go about translating topics you’re passionate about into your music?
 I just make sure that I keep everything as honest as possible. I don’t like to worry too much about what people want to hear or how they want to hear it, my focus is more on venting my feelings in a way that feels cathartic and that can be representative of what’s in my head, even to people who don’t necessarily understand what I’m going through. 
Your visuals are breathtaking, what role do they play in your music?
Thank you so much! My representation of who I am all kind of comes together in a package. I can’t just have my music exist without the visual art aspect because they’re both such important parts of who I am. I also like to show the unpolished sides of who I am, from my bad hair days to my struggling with existence itself. It’s all me, and I feel like it’s all really important to share. 
You really step into a different world when listening to your music or on your social media accounts, what went into creating it? 
It took a lot of unlearning useless “rules” about how to be an artist—and about how to be a person in general—for me to find this world of mine. I’ve fought against both myself and others to be in a place where everything I share just feels right, and to have a platform that is representative of who I am and what my mission is as a Soldier For The Different. 
What would your perfect world consist of?
That’s hard to imagine!! I feel like no matter what world I imagined up, I’d always have the privilege of overlooking some aspect of life that isn’t perfect for everyone. I do my best every day to educate myself on how to make my platform a safer place for everyone, but even if I could build my ideal little bubble world that seems comfortable and safe for everyone it’s likely I’d be accidentally leaving someone out. So I guess in my perfect world, I’m able to create a safe space for every single person, especially those who don’t already feel safe. 
Most of the world has been or is in quarantine, what did you do to fill the time? (New skills, binging shows, etc.)
I’ve been studying Korean hardcore!! And I’ve also been working on my Rubik’s cube speed solving; my record is somewhere around 55 seconds. 🙂 
Do you find being in quarantine helped you creatively?
I think it actually wore my creative brain out really badly, believe it or not. I know a lot of people have been getting super creative, and I’m honestly so jealous haha. I draw a lot of my inspiration from life experiences, and being stuck inside has kind of left that part of my life lacking. I can only write so much about how bored I am sitting inside all day haha 🙂 I’m positive that soon the creativity will come back to me, though!!
You’ve performed a number of live streams, how do you go about creating a virtual show compared to a regular concert?
My virtual shows are almost completely improvised. I kind of just get on and chat with people and play whatever comes to mind in the moment. My regular shows are much more throughly rehearsed, and I also have my band to accompany me whenever I’m on stage. The virtual shows are more like hangout sessions! 🙂 
Taking it back, do you remember the first song that made you fall in love with music?
Yes! When I was a little kid, I got a kidz bop cd with Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Greenday on it. It really opened my eyes to how lyrics can be a vehicle for emotions. I was like 8 and sobbing while singing “I walk alone” hahaha. 
Was there a standout moment when you realized that you wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always wanted to be an artist deep down, but it was one of those unrealistic dreams that I held in the back of my mind for a rainy day. 
I reached a point in my life where I was full of so much sadness and hurt, but had no outlet. I turned to music as that outlet, and it was like opening a hidden door into an oasis that always existed but that I never knew was there. 
How did you get involved in songwriting and production?
I started producing on garageband when it first came out on the iPad. I would just mess with the loops and create fun little songs using those. Then I realized that people were making real songs using it, and that blew my mind. I spent hours every day watching tutorial videos on youtube and mirroring the techniques myself. 
I never really learned how to write songs in any formulaic way, I just sort of started by venting and singing my feelings over chords and mimicking the music I enjoyed most before branching out into my own style of songwriting. 
How have your inspirations evolved over the years?
My inspirations have always stayed mostly the same, except every couple of years I’ll find a new artist who really speaks to me. Some inspirations have stayed constant throughout my life though, like Sailor Moon and Mr. Rogers. I think as I grow, I’ll always find new inspirations, but I’ll never lose the ones who helped me build the foundation of who I am.  
You seemed to tease that there is new music on the way, what can fans expect this year?
As I’m writing this, I have something brand new set to come out really soon, and it talks about something that I haven’t had a chance to talk about yet—something that’s really new to me! 🙂 I promised my Bubblegum Soldiers that their patience would pay off, and I still promise that it will!! ♡ 

Jacklyn is the Editor In Chief of Stage Right Secrets. Jacklyn's photography and articles can also be found on The Recording Academy's GRAMMYPro, GRAMMYU, PopCrush, Taste of Country, among other outlets. Besides press Jacklyn is a "Jack of All Trades" working various jobs at local concerts and touring.