We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeth Woolf and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elizabeth, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Every artist is tasked with the introspective challenge of finding his or her creative voice, but it was in my senior year of college, that I discovered my voice as a business owner as well. In my final semester at UC Berkeley, I took a course in media strategies and design thinking taught by Diane Dwyer. At the same time, I was producing and directing a self-written musical titled “Dreams of 18” for my senior thesis. Diane’s course material fit like a glove and overlapped seamlessly with my passion for storytelling. I learned that there are two types of stories that are presented when an artist releases a piece of work; the art itself, and the story about the art. These innovative ways of thinking about the artist’s relationship to storytelling changed my viewpoint. I fell in love with the process of owning my story as a woman owned business, and as a songwriter, which requires a different type of confidence than owning my artistry. I am passionate about the intersection of business and human connection, which is exactly where music lives. I love connecting with people over my songs and stories and taking ownership of my career. Having a business that is also my passion, and my creative expression presents its challenges since it can feel very personal. However, the vulnerable process of opening myself up to fans and clients (both through my songs, and the stories surrounding them) has helped my business grow more than anything.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
You ask, “What’s cooler than being cool!?” I reply, “Being genuine.” If you will remember my art for just one quality, please remember that it is rooted in honesty. As a songwriter and producer, finding that “honest root” is a dance between working diligently on my own, and asking others for input and collaboration. This dance is what got me to where I am today. In order to create music on my own, I am always working to match the music that I hear in my head when I’m composing to the songs that you hear when you play them on your speakers. For me, the path of finding my own creative expression is a continuous journey of learning new instruments, new lyrical tools, and new production techniques – all with the intention of sharing the rawest and honest parts of myself with you. In order to collaborate with others, I need to trust them. Often when I meet new people, I don’t create with them right away. Sometimes it takes months of (virtual) coffee hangs, (socially distant) hikes, and sharing music back in forth before we create together. I feel very comfortable opening up to new people and making friends, but it takes a while for me to open up creatively. My main producing collaborators, Harry Terrell and Andris Mattson, and I were friends for almost a year before we started working together on my debut album. Similarly, I have been close friends with my main songwriting collaborators, Sara Newman and Posey, far before we started writing together. This is not an easy process. I’m continuously tripping over my own tail, taking a few steps forward, and then sliding back to square one. Growing up, the jazz band at my school was male-dominated, and I still find myself having to self-coach and let myself know that I am allowed to be the leader of my own band, the writer of my own music, the producer of my own tracks. This is the most empowering process any musician (particularly female) can go through. If you will remember me as a person, please remember that I am always learning, always growing, always connecting.
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?
(Disclaimer: writing this reply made me so nostalgic for live-experiences in LA. Hopefully, if we continue to wear masks and stay socially distant, we can return to a lot of these places in the near future.) The first place we could go is Zuma Beach in Malibu for a beach day. I like to say that I am the best version of myself when I am by the ocean – who isn’t!? We would stop at Sun Life for smoothies, pick up dried mango and sushi from the grocery store (my guilty pleasure is grocery store veggie sushi) and drive up the coast! We would definitely spend a night in Hollywood at my favorite bar, Tramp Stamp Granny’s after seeing a show at The Hotel Cafe and walking around Amoeba Records. I love to sing along to Broadway songs at the TSG piano bar, and socialize with my friends. Another day would be spent in Studio City walking up and down all of the shops on Ventura Blvd (once a valley girl, always a valley girl at heart), and eating lunch at Joannes on Third. I love going to intimate dinner parties or house shows hosted by friends of mine, and ending the night downtown in the Arts District, or at 1642 in Echo Park (my favorite east side bar, known for its brick walls, dim lights, and great music). Lastly, we would spend a day at Blue Dream Studios creating music and hanging out in the backyard. I love the community that Raquel Rodriguez has built over at Blue Dream, and would love to share it with my visiting friends. And of course, who could forget, the late-night taco truck stop on the way home. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would not be the person that I am today without the support of Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles. Particularly Leslie Carey. The doctors, nurses, and staff saved my life from a bacterial brain infection when I was 18 years old. My experience opened my eyes and changed my perspective on the brevity, imperfect, and precious experience that we call life. Every decision that I make is inspired by my 18-year-old self. I aim to live at the fullest, most creative, and most free and loving versions of myself every day.
Ally Seracki (Alix Rae) Amanda Farmer