A harp and a loop pedal aren’t common bedfellows, yet Gold Coast artist Elska has managed to bring them together alongside tales of cheaters and liars and love in peculiar places. If that sounds like just the aural backdrop you’d expect in a smoky whiskey bar, you’d be right. Well, minus the smoke, cos that’s not cool in 2017, yeah? Elska spoke with Blank Gold Coast editor Samantha Morris about picking up the harp after an extended break.
“I’m a one-woman-band who creates a hurricane of sassy pop with a harp and a loop pedal,” Elska told Blank Gold Coast. “Most people are fascinated just by the fact that I play a harp but then they experience a performance layered with harp melodies, percussive harp beats and songs about internet love… and their reaction is “SHUT THE FRONT DOOR I WASN’T EXPECTING THAT!”
Music has been in Elska’s life since childhood. She grew up busking at Gold Cosat markets and performed at more than a thousand weddings.
“My mum always encouraged me to be different and after seeing a harpist performing at Christmas when I was a child, I ‘plucked’ up the courage to ask for a lesson.”
She went on to study and teach music.
“But if you looked at my life 12 months ago, it was nappies, daycare lunches and piles of washing,” she said. Elska was on extended maternity leave and contemplating whether to go back to a job.
“That didn’t ignite a fire in my heart. So I bit the bullet and reinvested in ‘me’ and my music.”
And while the odds were stacked against her, Elska knew if she didn’t give it a go, then ten years down the track I she’d be wondering “what if?”
In that 12 months she’s performed at Airlie Beach Festival of Music as well as Buskers by the Creek (where she became a quasi pinup girl for the event), and in September she was recording in Brighton, UK.
I asked Elska how she ended up recording at Brighton Electric Studios with Dan Swift – who has also worked with Passenger and Snow Patrol, and closer to home, also with Ella Fence.
“Through hard work, strategic goal setting, a lot of hustling, and not being afraid to network at music industry events,” she said, “my music landed in Dan’s inbox without my knowledge.”
“After many emails, video chats, and clearing out my bank account, I was on a plane to the UK to record my first studio produced EP.”
“It has been a whirlwind,” she said.
Elska is a product of Griffith University’s Bachelor of Popular Music and is a passionate advocate for the course, saying it shaped her as a young musician and as a songwriter.
“I was a bit of a music theory nerd and fascinated with how and why songs made me feel a certain way. The degree allowed me to deeply analyse the songwriting of artists such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie – so that I could understand the songwriting choices these artists made, and weave their tricks into my own craft.”
“It is imperative to learn from those who have succeeded before you. There is a reason certain songs have stood the test of time – a good song is a good song, regardless of genre.”
“On top of that, the degree nurtured my live performance skills, taught me about recording, and to see music as a ‘business’.”
“But the absolute best thing about the degree was the lifelong friendships (with both lecturers and fellow musicians) that continue to this day.”
“There are so many success stories to come from Griffith’s Bachelor of Popular Music and I am humbled to be considered one of them.”
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Catch Elska and her harp at Scottish Prince on Sunday 17 December and The Cambus Wallace on Tuesday 28 November and 19 December.