An Interview with Elijah Who

Meteoric rise to stardom isn’t quite the norm, but every now and then there’s an exception. For lofi in particular, elijah who is a prime example of this. Coming off of an insanely successful run in 2017, I reached out to uncover the story behind his success and what we might expect from elijah who in the remainder of 2018.

In a lot of ways, you’ve positioned yourself at the forefront of the lo-fi community, and I think we’ve all seen the ways in which you have influenced it. But how did it all start? What was the beginning of elijah who like?

I really started out trying to mimic the cleaner, more listenable take on lofi hip hop I felt people like tomppa and jinsang took as opposed to eevee or bsd.u’s styles haha. Literally the first beat I made was the instrumental for a song I named ‘i hear it in my sleep’, and you can tell it’s really underdeveloped overall, but the sample naturally had the texture I was looking for so it didn’t come out too awful and got noticed by a few larger producers. That’s basically how it all happened, me getting lucky and being noticed by people with larger followings than me.


Last year you went on an insane run, releasing some of your biggest songs and really solidifying your fan base. What inspired your original output run and what was your creation process like?

Aw, man, last year was really weird haha. I used to put out songs periodically and release a song for every 100 follower milestone, I think that was pretty common then, but it got really crazy when animevibe posted “we used to talk every night” on their channel in late February. I had just hit 700 followers and when I woke up the next morning, I was at 800 so I had to drop something else, and the day after that it was 900 so I released another song and another the day after for 1k etc. It kinda just became a habit because I tried to keep up with follower numbers and I think it became an average of two to three songs per week, which can both really help and hurt in a way.


I know a lot of musicians put themselves into specific spaces before they’re ready to work. What are your studio rituals like?

It’s changed a lot but last year, I would just go try to make something whenever I felt heavily influenced by whatever was going on in my life, and that was an often feeling. Now I’ll occasionally smoke before I try to make something new and I’m particularly inspired but usually I’ll get hit with inspiration and excitement when I find a nice sample or a good chord progression or I get new equipment or whatever.


What’s your sampling process like? Mostly digital digging or do you have a few local shops you like to dig through?

Wow, I wish I had the time and money to go to shops all the time, I’ve only gone sample digging on vinyl a few times but I’d definitely like to do it more soon. I’m 99% digital digging lately, just on YouTube and Pandora stations.”


Does it bother you when people refer to you as a lo-fi producer or have you embraced it in full?

I’ve really embraced the label as something that people call me but I don’t feel it fits my music really. I’m totally alright with being put in that genre though because I don’t sound like very many other artists and it’s kind of an advantage.”


I really enjoy the cohesive sounds you pull together when focusing on a project over singles. What pushes you to release projects when you’ve found so much success in a more consistent stream of outputs?

Thanks! It’s really just a test of my own willpower I guess, I’m pretty impulsive as a person so I absolutely prefer to release songs when I’m done with them, but if I feel like a group of songs work well together or I made them all relatively close to each other, I do my best to save them and only put out teasers. Mostly, I make projects as things to present to my distribution label to be put on streaming services because it’s easier to provide a short EP than like, 50 singles.


Any dream collaborations in the works? Any you are still trying to make happen?

Oh yeah absolutely, I don’t know if/when it’ll come out but I have a rough mix of a song with bsd.u, I’ve sent stems out to RÜDE, I’d love to do another song with jinsang, and there are definitely other people I’m going to try to hit up soon.


It seems like the lo-fi/SoundCloud community is really taking strides to step away from the screens more often these days, and you’re no exception. What’s it been like for you to expand your connections into the real world and away from just the internet?

Absolutely, it’s really cool to see. Basically everything that has happened for me has come about by the person or brand contacting me because I’m way too shy to reach out to people. It’s gone well so far though, I’ve got a tour booked and I might be going abroad to play shows if this tour goes well for me personally! I’d love to work with people in real life more than online as well.


What’s it been like working with Urban Outfitters and how did that come about?

It’s been really cool, it’s definitely the biggest endorsement I’ve ever received. They contacted me asking if I’d like to curate a playlist for their SoundCloud page and I obviously said yes, and it ended up being one of their most successful playlists so they hit me up later asking if they could license two of my songs for their social media ads! So far, they’ve used one and it was one of the craziest things getting the notification that they mentioned me in their Instagram story! I hope to work with them more soon.


From everything I’ve seen online you seem like more of an impulsive releaser than a detailed, long-term strategist, but what can your fans look forward to for the rest of the year?

Haha yeah, definitely. I’d like to release another short EP, possibly an acoustic/ambient thing instead of a beat tape or whatever, but if I can hold myself down and save tracks for it, I’d love to put out another tape this year, or at least a compilation of my favorite songs! They can look out for me featuring/collaborating on other songs as well.

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