We had the good fortune of connecting with ELARA and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi ELARA, how do you think about risk?
I’ve been a moderate risk taker up until I turned 19. Prior to 19 I was pretty much afraid of a lot of things because I feared failure and rejection. When I started to not be afraid to fail, and accept rejection: I began to take many risks. Risks to me are pivotal decisions YOU make in your life. They’re scary decisions to make I have never regretted any of my pivotal decisions. One of the earlier risks I took in my life was dropping out of high school at 17. I was half way through my first semester of senior year when I decided to leave. I got a lot of negative feedback from family and friends because I dropped out. Some of the things they stressed to me were “it’s so stupid that you left when you were so close to graduation,” and “what are you gonna do now? No one is going to hire a high school drop out,” among other things. I was not phased by their comments because I had never been more sure of anything at that point. I dropped out of high school because I was being bullied for my weight and I was very depressed. Leaving school gave me the time and space to work on myself and step away from all that negativity.I went on to lose a lot of weight, got my GED, enrolled in community college 2 years later, and met my best friends at my first job.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have a story to tell that no one else can tell but me. I have felt it in my heart all my life that what I have to say must be heard. This voice I have was put inside my body to tell my story, my mother’s, my grandmother’s and everyone else’s before me I am very proud of the risks I’ve taken because they’ve definitely paid off. I’m excited to continue taking risks with my music and trying things I’ve never tried. Getting to where I am today was definitely not easy. I am nowhere near where I want to be, but I’m closer than I’ve ever been. I didn’t get ‘here’ by playing it safe. I got here by taking risks and not caring if others approved of them or not. I have not mastered the art of not caring but I’ve definitely gotten better at it. I’ve learned to follow my intuition no matter what. Even if my opinion or decision is unpopular, I must be able to trust myself. I want the world to know that my music represents and speaks for everyone who’s ever been put down, mistreated, outcast, and suffered loss. I hope my music helps give comfort.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Northern California is one of my favorite places in the world. If I had friends visit me from let’s say, Los Angeles, I would definitely take them to Gamba Karaoke in Cupertino. It’s a hidden gem in Cupertino where my friends and I would hang out a lot. The music selection is amazing and it’s pretty inexpensive. I love coffee, so I would definitely recommend Cafe Venetia, and Blue Bottle in Palo Alto. When it comes to food, Back A Yard Caribbean Grill in Menlo Park has the best Caribbean food in the area and it’s a black owned business!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are many people and things who have attributed love, support, mentorship, and encouragement in my life. Marcos, my brother, has paved the road for me to be as educated and creative as I can be. He is the first person in my family to have graduated from college and to move out of the house. Marcos introduced me to film making at a very young age and as kids we would create crazy, funny home videos.We were really into making horror films, and dance videos. Growing up in Northern California together allowed us to really take in and learn about the LGBTQ+ community. My brothers’ interest in pop culture and pop divas really spilled into me. He is the best brother I could have ever asked for. My team at Lost Goddess records have supported and mentored me through my music career. Koji Kali (Producer/Songwriter/artist) from Lost Goddess is the first producer in Los Angeles that I met that truly understood who I am and who I wanted to become. Her production is right on the money. She is able to mix my pop/R&B influence with my latin roots. Her ability to create harmonies that are sonically beautiful is outstanding. Koji has become one of my dearest best friends. Enny Owl (artist/songwriter/creative director) from Lost Goddess has written wonderful records for me and with me. I don’t know anyone else who is able to tell stories through music like she does. She helped me cultivate and refine my image. She has been super supportive and reassured me that I can wear WHATEVER I want no matter my size. She is a true gem and truthfully one of my best friends. I have been through the best and worst with these incredible women, and I wouldn’t change a thing because we have grown so much from it all.
Nicolette Daskalaski, Jennelle Fong, Enny Owl