We had the good fortune of connecting with Elaina DeVoss and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elaina, what do you want people to remember about you?
The last time I did one of these interviews, I focused on veganism and my impact on those around me. This time, I really wanted to introduce readers to another side of me. If I had to chose one thing for people to remember about me, it would be how my music made them feel. I put a lot of passion and heart into my music, and it has taken a lot for me to finally become vulnerable in my writing. I really hope that with my vulnerability, I can connect to a lot of people. I want my music to speak to people who are going through the same things that I’ve gone through. There’s always a moment when you listen to a song and it completely aligns with your situation. I want that to be my legacy, to be known as a girl that writes music that speaks to you.
Since I can’t just choose one thing to be remembered by, I would also like to be remembered by the actual sound of my voice. For as long as it has taken me to become vulnerable in my writing, it has taken me even longer to be comfortable with my singing voice. I don’t feel like I sound, like the way I look. A famous example of what I’m trying to say is Billie Eilish. In my opinion, her style and look doesn’t match her sound vocally. I was shocked when I first heard her music because I didn’t expect her voice to sound the way it does. She’s amazing by the way, I’m actually a fan because of her voice. I feel like that is what my voice does, it surprises people. I’m not sure what they expect, but I have finally come to accept and embrace that I am vocally unique. I would love if my voice was one of the reasons people remembered me.
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.
My musical journey has been exactly that, a journey. I’ve been singing and making music basically since I’ve come out of the womb. I can remember writing my first song as a little girl, it was called, “Mommy Come Play a Game with Me”, and I still remember the words. My mom and I laugh about that song to this day. Ever since then, and probably even before that, it has been obvious to my family that music was one of the things I was truly passionate about. My family was very encouraging and supportive every step of the way.
When I was in college, I wanted to audition for a musical the theatre department was putting on. Basically you had to either sing acapella or find an accompanist. I wanted to take matters into my own hands, so I asked my mom for a guitar so I could accompany myself. After a lot of convincing, I got my cousin’s old guitar for Christmas. It was the best day of my life. It was basically the start of my taking music seriously. I spent weeks learning the chords to my audition song off the internet. I didn’t get any parts in that musical, but my guitar hasn’t left my hands since. After all, my audition song only had 4 chords, there was so much more to learn!
One of my hardest battles to overcome was confidence in myself. My friends know me as someone that loves the spotlight. While that is true, I had really hated the sound of my voice. I spent hours comparing myself to other artists. I would record myself singing, listen back, and then get incredibly upset that I didn’t sound like the artist was covering. It wasn’t until I had an audition for a singing show that I finally gained confidence in my voice. I spent weeks practicing for this audition. I was focusing, not on just covering artists songs, but on truly making the songs my own. One of my biggest confidence boosts was that I was finally proud that my voice didn’t sound like everyone else’s. My mindset was that I have a unique sound, and that’s what’s going to get me on the show. Obviously, that didn’t happen for me, but I left that audition happier than I had left any other, knowing full well I wasn’t going to get the gig. Thanks to that show, I know that my voice is what sets me apart from others. I used to literally cry about it, now I embrace it.
One of the most challenging things about being a musician is putting yourself out there. Vulnerability isn’t my strong suit (where are my enneagram 8’s at?!), so in the many years I’ve been writing and making music, I haven’t released much into the world. Like a lot of people, the fear of rejection has really held me back. I have a pretty loud critic inside my head, and she loves to tell me that my songs aren’t good enough and how much people will hate them. Which is honestly terrifying. For my most recent project I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t listen to that little voice inside my head. I would just open myself up and say what I’m trying to get out. Thankfully, I’ve held true to my promise and I’m so excited for the work I’m going to be putting out. The funny thing is, if I hadn’t been so scared to put out music early on, I would’ve been putting out music that I wasn’t necessarily that proud of. It feels like a totally different ball game to be 100% proud of the music I’ve created. I’ll be dropping part of it sometime this year. Stay tuned, because I’m so excited for everyone to hear what I’ve been working on!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’ve lived in LA for 7 years in May. I am dying to call myself an Angeleno, but I don’t think I can just yet. There’s honestly so much to do here, I haven’t even done it all in my 7 years!
First up on the list: Santa Monica. I absolutely LOVE the Santa Monica area. It’s probably one of my all time areas in LA. Also, its home to one of the most delicious bakeries ever. Erin McKenna’s Bakery. This place is amazing. It’s the cutest little bakery. Everything is pink, from the walls to the shirts the employees wear. Its so cute and the food is so delicious! There are two locations in LA for this bakery, but only the Santa Monica location serves food. They have pizza, pancakes, french toast, breakfast bowls, sandwiches, salads, frittatas, and there’s even a sandwich named after me! It’s called Elaina’s B.L.A.C.T. Out Sandwich. It’s a BLT with avocado and cheese. The sweet treats they have there are delicious too! They are known for their cupcakes and donuts, but my top 5 are: pink vanilla donuts, strawberry shortcake, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate eclairs, cinnamon crumb cake. And there’s still so many more things I haven’t mentioned. It’s a small business, owned by Erin McKenna herself. It’s a wonderful place, make sure you stop by if you’re in the area!
If it’s your first time in Santa Monica, I would definitely recommend renting a bike for the day and biking around the city. The beach has a great bike path and you can bike down to Venice. Maybe buy some street art. I would highly recommend to take a walk to the Venice Canals if you can. That area is gorgeous, and it’s a fun little breath of fresh air, away from the hustle and bustle of LA.
For lunch I would probably go to CAVA. It’s not a small business or anything, but I discovered them a bit before quarantine started, and it’s one of my favorite spots. Think Mediterranean Subway.
Back in the Valley, Sugar Taco and El Cocinero would be on the top of my list. Sugar Taco is a new vegan Mexican restaurant in Sherman Oaks. They have fooled many non-vegans with their plant proteins, so I would highly recommend this spot. Some of my favorite things on the menu are the quesadilla, nachos, and tacos! Al pastor is my preferred protein, but if I’m getting tacos, then I get the pescado tacos and add mango salsa! If you can, snag yourself a concha and a churro donut! I love the conchas, but the churro donuts sell out super fast so be quick. El Cocinero is also vegan Mexican spot. They are in Van Nuys. They have a bit of a bigger menu than Sugar Taco, but I don’t love everything like I do at Sugar Taco. I also haven’t made my way through the menu at El Cocinero because I’m currently addicted to the chicharron burrito, remember to add guac and nacho cheese! The chicharron is deep fried soy curls and it is crispy and delicious. I’m obsessed. Both El Cocinero and Sugar Taco are small businesses! Sugar Taco is owned entirely by women, like Erin McKenna’s.
Some of my other favorite places to eat: Veggietize Me, small business, amazing vegan burgers, like AMAZING. Definitely my favorite burger spot. Hugo’s, not entirely vegan, they have a full menu with vegan options and are able to veganize a bunch of things on the menu, their breakfast is unreal. H.O.P.E. I’ve only been here once, but it is one of those meals that you think about again and again after you’ve eaten it.
One of the best experiences I’ve ever had was at this place called Rage Ground. I’m pretty sure it’s been closed for a while because of the pandemic, but that’s one of the reasons I want to mention it. Its place where you go and get to smash stuff with your friends, things like computers, plates, glasses, microwaves. They give you all the protective wear you need, so you won’t hurt yourself, they also give you plenty of options of what you want to use to smash stuff. I first went here on a valentine’s date with my man, and then a month later we brought his family and our friends. It’s a really cool place, and I know a lot of business are hurting. Whenever they are open again, I hope you make it a point to visit. This is a place LA really needs. Its located in DTLA, but definitely worth the trip.
My favorite bar is called Residuals, its in Sherman Oaks I think. I think anything on Venture Blvd is in Sherman Oaks, so don’t take me for a GPS. But anyway, I really wanted to mention this bar because I know that they have been closed for the entirety of the pandemic. Its a small business and they are hurting. Its not a special bar, its a little local dive bar, but I love it. And I really wanted to give them a shoutout so maybe it can be on the back of your mind when things open up again and you’re looking for a cool bar to go to. Residuals is a go-to.
I could go on and on, this is really my forte. Definitely make sure to go see a Dodger game, our boys are the reigning champs and it feels good! We have to visit Six Flags and Universal, those are places are always fun, just people watching alone in those areas can be fully entertaining.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family, my mother specifically, has been an integral part in my music career. My mom is amazing and wonderful. Her support is the reason I keep going. Love you mom!
Also I’d like to recognize is the Big Guy Upstairs. He’s really been my rock throughout this whole journey. I’d like to thank Him for my gift of music. God has really driven me and lifted me up, and without Him, who knows where I’d be. Just a quick shoutout to my main man.
And finally, for the past 5 years, the person that has pushed me the most and really encouraged me has been Desmond Walker. Those that know me are probably rolling their eyes, but I thought about this for a very long time, and Desmond is the honest answer. I’ve been with him for the past 5 years, which is probably why my friends would roll their eyes, but he is very inspiring. He has always supported me in my music, and pushed me to try new things. Being into the music scene himself, he’s always been able to get me outside of my comfort zone, and really explore. It really awesome to have someone so close to you so supportive and willing to go through this journey with you. He has inspired me in more ways than one, he has a drive like I’ve never seen before. Because of his will and his work ethic, I know he’s going to do great things. He’s really be a great foundation and very crucial in my progress.
Gregory Hennessy Ranee Vespi Desmond Walker