We had the good fortune of connecting with Ellery Bonham and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ellery, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I think since I was young, my strengths and weaknesses were VERY palpable. I was obsessive about singing and ear training— the kind of attention-to-detail work that came in long waves of inspiration– and I wasn’t great with cyclical structure and routine. I was curious, imaginative, and deeply empathetic, and I felt gravely misunderstood and discouraged by the rigidity of school hours and standardized learning. (I actually asked my parents many times throughout high school to pull me out in search of another means of education. They didn’t, but have since admitted that they think that would have been a better path for me.). I think it’s good to learn to adapt and practice what doesn’t come naturally to you— and for that, I am grateful for what a traditional education did give me— but I realized as I entered adulthood that I found so much more success in the hours I was left alone to create in my own world and on my own time. I think a lot of us are wanting to become the people we needed growing up, and I have been really committed to figuring out what that looks like for me. So much of it is just believing in your vision and buying what you’re selling. It’s full commitment to your cause and being willing to live in seasons of scarcity for the freedom to find it. All that, and singing was my first and greatest love— there was never a backup plan.

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
This day in age, with the millions of people that are able to share their talents and skillsets on the internet, I wish I could say I knew what set me apart. I just believe that if I stay dedicated to my vision, people will hopefully feel it for themselves. I think every voice and style that comes from a place of honesty is unique, and I’m more focused on that than aiming to fill a specific lane in the industry from a marketing angle.

I’m really proud of every younger version of myself that kept going and pushing forward. Being an artist is a really emotional endeavor, and I’m really thankful to my younger self for getting through the hardest times to get me to today. I’m also really proud of my first full-length album that came out last October. Finishing that was a huge accomplishment in and of itself. Because it took so long to make, I outgrew some of the songs by the time the album dropped, but a few of them I think I’ll carry with me for years to come. Specifically, I Can’t Love You Anymore, Supermagic, Love You Better, Summertime— those all still mean a lot to me and are the closest to music I’ll be putting out next.

I’d say I got to where I am because I grew up obsessed with singing and basically married the emotionality attached to it at a young age. Like a naive kid from Rhode Island, I thought singing was all I would need to do in order to have a career I was satisfied with. As I got older, I realized the success I wanted wasn’t just for my ability to sing, but in my ability to tell my own stories, so I started writing songs. Soon enough, I figured I should lean more into piano in order to use chords in a way that shaped my melodies and storytelling. I then realized I would need a way to record these ideas, so I picked up production, and on and on this process went. The more dedicated you are to your craft, I think the more skills you want to pick up that would allow you to keep dialing in your taste and vision. At every step, I’ve cried at the mountain that was in front of me. I remember literally crying on my bedroom floor the day I bought Logic because I was so overwhelmed at how much I would need to learn before I could start using it the way I wanted to. I think we’re all averse to pain, and scaling a mountain for personal betterment is definitely painful. Not to mention, an incredibly isolating pursuit. It really takes obsession to stay committed to this path. I don’t recommend it to anyone who could see themselves doing anything else. If you can’t, you have to trust the process. There’s nothing like the rewards you find for staying dedicated and learning new skillsets so your toolkit inspires you. I’m really grateful for the community around me as well. I think coming up with my peers has been really encouraging and a great way to check in on one another for emotional support and sharing knowledge.

My ~brand~ is a little old school. I’m in it for the long game and really value quality over quantity. That’s not exactly the modern approach, but my personal goals are to keep aiming for a timeless catalog while bending genre bounds and experimenting with melodies. I want to keep people feeling something when they listen to my songs the way old music used to. I want to think there are enough of us still out here wanting to keep feeling at the forefront, and the heart of music alive.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Honestly, having been in Los Angeles for six months, I feel like my dent in seeing this city is the equivalent of digging a tablespoon-sized hole at the beach. There’s so much to do and so much to see, I don’t think I’d be able to get to it all in a lifetime. I will say, for the short time I’ve been here, I’ve really enjoyed the flea markets at Melrose trading post and Los Feliz, vintage shopping pretty much anywhere, Monday nights at Gold Digger’s and School Night, Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier. The food is pretty unstoppable— I do love Verve coffee, Tu Madre, and Araya’s Vegan Thai which are all nearby 🙂

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My voice teacher from age 12 to roughly 22, Fred Scheff. He is a gentle giant. To my 5’2 frame he was a 6 foot something beautiful, Jewish, poetic, opera singer who taught me not only classical singing, but how connected performance is to your entire body. From time spent on Broadway, he understood how to sing with purpose and connection and spoke to me in a language no one else in my life could. He tied God into the art of performance, storytelling, and got me to focus on believing in what I was singing more than the superficial high of being in the spotlight. I needed a mentor like him to challenge me and encourage the belief I held deep within me that art is essential in the world. Lots of adults I grew up around appreciated art, but I’m not sure they bought into its power to heal and touch people. Fred was the voice to tell me the pull I felt in my life was an important cause, and one to fight for.

Instagram: @ellerybonham

Twitter: @ellerybonham

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/ElleryBonham

Other: https://ellery-bonham.myshopify.com/

Image Credits
Rebecca Peters

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.