Interview with: Elise Trouw

Interview with: Elise Trouw

Young, Talented Multi-Instrumentalist and Singer-Songwriter from San Diego, California

Recently, I got to ask the incredibly talented, multi-instrumentalist/ singer-songwriter, Elise Trouw, some questions regarding her songwriting process, musicianship, and the music business out on the west coast.

First off, what is your name, how old are you and where do you hail from?

My full name is Elise Ashlyn Trouw. I’m seventeen years old and have lived around Southern California my entire life. I was born in Newport Beach, but currently live in San Diego.

Elise, from what I've seen, you can play the drums, the guitar, the bass, and you sing? Do you come from a musical background?

No, I’m the first musician in my family.

When did you first begin playing music and which instrument did you pick up first? Did you receive any lessons?

I started out on classical piano lessons when I was six, after deciding I wanted to be able to play “My Immortal” by Evanescence on piano (which I never actually ended up learning…). After messing around on the video game Rockband when I was ten, I was inspired to play real drums and began formal lessons with Dave Blackburn. I also learned some guitar from him and have also picked up bass since then. As for singing, I only started about 2 years ago after I began songwriting.

You have a really unique, soothing tone to your voice, were you trained in singing at all? You sound like you've been trained in jazz.

Thank you! I never really planned on being a singer and actually began by taking classical vocal lessons with a singer named Sara Perez. She helped me a lot with my technique, which was beneficial when I ventured into pop singing. I currently take contemporary voice lessons with Jody Bagley.

When you are writing a song, what does your songwriting process look like?

I almost always write my songs on piano, beginning with either a melody or a lyric phrase. Typically, the chorus comes first, because I see that as the song’s “thesis”, which the verse lyrics all point to.

Your songs are mixed so incredibly well. Who mixes/masters/produces your music?

Almost all of the tracks on my album were mixed and mastered by Alan Sanderson, though my most recent single, “Burn,” was mixed and mastered by Christopher Hoffee. On songs like “She Talking” and “Burn,” I record and produce the tracks at home, then take them to the studio for mixing. On less electronic songs, I record in the studio with Alan and my producer Gary Hyde.

Is it a collaborative effort between you and the producer?

Yes, my producer is also the cowriter on most of my songs, so a lot of the work we do is a collaborative effort.

You're a full-time musician, but are you/have you been in school for music as well?

I graduated high school a year early to pursue music, so I’m essentially replacing my senior year with a gap year. I have plans to apply for music college for next year, with my top choice being USC.

There is a lot of talent out on the west coast, how do you set yourself apart as an artist?

It’s easy to get grouped with other artists, especially being a female singer-songwriter. I think the fact that I play all the instruments on my album adds a new perspective to my music, since most pop music isn’t recorded like that.

If you could collaborate with one artist, who would they be?

That’s a tough one to answer. I’d probably choose to collaborate with Thom Yorke from Radiohead.

In terms of songwriting, who are some of your biggest influences?

Definitely Sting from The Police.

Why are they your biggest influences?

Sting writes a lot of beautiful verse melodies that perfectly frame his lyrics. The way his songs flow, creating a story, is the tell of an amazing songwriter.

You have an eclectic sound to your original music. Which genre of music would you consider your music?

Most of my music falls under the category of Alternative Pop. By this I mean that the songs are written with pop forms, but the recordings have alternative arrangements.

You've just released your first music video for your single "Burn"! Where was it filmed? What was the experience like?

“Burn” was filmed in South Africa with a production company called The Grand•Kids Collective. It was shot over two long (13-15 hour) days. Everyone involved was a pleasure to work with, and I have plans for future videos with them. You can find behind-the-scenes photos on my Facebook page, along with little stories from the two days shooting.

You've released a few really great singles, do we expect an LP anytime soon?

Thank you and yes, all four of my singles are part of my debut album, which will be released before the end of the year. The style of each single is quite different from the last, which reflects the sound of the album as a whole. There are about eleven songs on the album, and it’d be hard to classify them all under on genre.

Are you currently involved in any other musical projects?

I have been a part of a couple of other projects as a songwriter and vocalist, and a few as a session drummer. However, my main focus is on my album right now.

What are your top five favorite albums?

Reggatta de Blanc (The Police), In Rainbows (Radiohead), The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd), Aja (Steely Dan), and Sylva (Snarky Puppy)

Where do you see yourself as a musician in ten years?

Songwriting will always continue to be a part of my life. I’m interested in collaborating with other artists, songwriters and producers as I continue with my own projects. Other than that, I will always be a drummer at heart and I will go where music takes me.

What is one tip you'd give to other aspiring songwriters out there?

Collaborate. After a while I sometimes find myself starting to write songs the same way repeatedly, which can lose its excitement. Just writing one song with another person can show you a whole different approach that will bring a new perspective to your creativity.

Many thanks to the super talented Elise Trouw. Please check out her music and pick up her singles on Itunes!

Watch her debut MV, "Burn" here:

You can also follow her here:

Cover Image Credit: Photo Courtesy of Elise Trouw

Popular Right Now

8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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