Formally known as the pop princess Eliza Doolittle, the self-monikered soul artist Eliza takes back control and turns to a new direction, in her career as well as her personal life, after leaving her record label, opting for the independent route. Taking on a slower-paced mode of living, the Londoner’s quiet authenticity has become the title of this new reinventive chapter she has embarked on.
Eliza's newfound power lies in the ability to confront, not only those around her but also herself, as evidently showcased in her latest album A Sky Without Stars. From climate change to love, the musician’s spell-binding ability to evoke emotions and provoke thought is undeniable. Stripped back and vulnerable, the soft-spoken artist dives into the themes and inspirations for her latest album, her hopes for the future and teases her upcoming European tour.
You have just released the album A Sky Without Stars and it is inspired by the fact that in cities such as your home London, the stars are no longer visible due to light pollution. Tell me more about that.
The songs on the album touch on many different topics but the title of the album was inspired by that very sad fact. It embodies a feeling that runs throughout the album even when the songs don’t speak on it directly. There are feelings of sadness, self-reflection, strength, rebellion, feminine focus, confrontation, abandonment of hierarchical views and forces. But also an optimistic feeling that we can do this, we can change what needs to be changed, individually and collectively. We got this!
A Sky Without Stars feels even softer and slower-paced than your 2018 album A Real Romantic. Is this a form of protest against the extremely fast-paced nature of London and the music industry, an encouragement to your listeners to embrace a slower-paced mode of living?
It’s funny you should say that because I did write a lot of the album in lockdown and that time was a real wake up call for many of us all I’m sure. The pace we were going at before was unhealthy and possibly even unproductive. I’m loving the talk of a 4-day work week, I want to get that idea promoted to a zero-day week! How beautiful would it be if we lived in a society where everyone chipped in with tasks, worked with our natural strengths and spent more time having fun and being creative!
What does your creative process look like? Do you start by writing lyrics or creating a beat?
The creative process for me and Finlay Robson (my music partner) is usually starting with a beat, then adding bass and chords. Eventually the melody and lyrics follow but sometimes we start with chords first and some of the time I’ll have an idea for a lyrics beforehand but usually that’s the last part of the puzzle for us.
Ever since leaving your label to become an independent artist and changing your artist moniker to Eliza, we’ve seen you approach music in a much more intimate and aware way, creating songs that dive into topics from climate change to independence. Do you feel a certain responsibility to use your voice to address these very issues?
I do feel a huge amount of responsibility, I’ve always felt that, but my purpose has become a lot clearer as I’ve got older. I’m always hoping to connect with what I see going on in the world, in my community, within my personal relationships and myself. Putting those observations into my music. In all the song’s there are calls of freedom and openness that I try to live by, as well as sing about.
What have been the major benefits you’ve experienced since leaving your record label?
The major benefits from leaving a major label are that business and industry take a back seat. Creativity and music have always been where my heart is and being in an environment where business and numbers are the priority was tough. I respect it if that's your bag, but it was never mine. Life feels more peaceful. I get to move to my own rhythm, without male heavy, pop industry criticism following me around. It’s a much freer place to be in.
In the song A Tear For The Dreadful, we can hear you say “I don't care how hard you think you are. Shame, shame on your name and the blatant weaknеss in your heart.” Who are what are you trying to call out here?
There are many behaviours and actions that I’m calling out, my own behaviour included. The song was written about a specific situation but it’s so much more than a single person I am singing to. This is the society we’ve created, where these dreadful things occur and if I’m singing these words to the person involved in these loveless actions then I must also sing these words to myself.
What do you wish to achieve with your music?
That side of things is totally out of my hands, but I hope the music makes people feel strong and powerful and loving in the way it has for me when making it.
Your musical inspirations span from Biggie and Aaliyah to Radiohead, Nirvana and Prince, finding influence in many diverse musical genres. How do such different inspirations all trickle down into your own music?
I have no idea, but I sure hope it does trickle down! Because I love them all so much.
Your music has a certain non-conformist quality to it – it doesn’t necessarily fit into one genre. It has been described as a blend of soul, hip-hop and R&B. How would you describe your sound?
I would describe this album as confrontational, whereas my last album A Real Romantic was more escapist. One thing that always seems to run through the music is rhythm and groove. So maybe that’s what we should call it!? Ha! I’m not big on labels and boxes but I do love the word “Soul.” If anyone is connecting to the soul of things then they’re on the right track so I’m happy for it to be described as that!
Which artist or song are you currently listening to?
I’ve been listening to the Comfort to Me album by Amyl and The Sniffers. Love it.
From lighting to styling, the music videos you’ve put out for Heat of the Moon, Straight Talker and Me vs Me all have a dark, dystopian feel to them. Why is that?
I do think quite a lot about what the world would look like if something were to happen to us, I suppose it already is happening. I hope for some harmony.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Music-wise, the vinyl for A Sky Without Stars comes out on November 18th. I’m going on tour across the United Kingdom and Europe in February and March 2023. More music is always on the horizon too!