Tearing Down the Walls
The track, Tearing Down the Walls, is available via:
Pop; R&B; Alternative
The album, Entwined, is available via:
15th June, 2018
EACH artist I encounter…
has a lot to offer and can provide an interesting angle into the world of music. You never know what you are going to get and it can be fascinating seeing what they come through with. Before I get to Elias; I wanted to look at a few different aspects worth exploring. I will investigate inspirational stories and those who overcome adversity to conquer and strive; music that gets to the point and goes right into the heart; voices that seem to convey so many messages and possibilities; writing that goes deeper and seems to capture the complexities of human existence – a bit about solo artists and those who will continue to do great work and succeed. It is interesting looking at Elias and where he has come from. The Stockholm-raised musician has battled hard to become the artist he is today and faced enough obstacles along the way. I wanted to concentrate on something that you do not hear in a lot of articles and reviews: musicians who have dyslexia. It is not often concentrated on but, in reality, there are so many who suffer from dyslexia. It can be quite mild or, for some, it is very severe and can affect their lives in a very profound way. One of the reasons I have not interviewed Elias is because his dyslexia is very bad. For anyone, this kind of disability can be troubling: for a musician who tries to convey themselves in a written form; that is quite a burden. I say ‘burden’ but it might not be the case with Elias. He handles his condition but it does make some aspects of his life quite difficult. Written interviews are out of the question and the way he must present his music and prepare it differs. A lot of musicians will write music/lyrics and then rewrite/shape them. It is a traditional process and is the way you get from conception to realisation. If you are unable to write – or write easily and proficiently – then what do you do?!
I suffered difficulty as a child when it came to writing and reading. I was late to the game and struggled to convey myself effectively. It was a frustrating and troubling time that got under my skin and made me very unhappy. I can only imagine how hard it is for someone like Elias. Many might say dyslexia is a hindrance that makes songwriting impossible: if anything, the way he articulates himself is a much more direct and human thing. Rather than display his songs in a written and intangible thing; he puts it out there directly and verbally. I am not sure of the exact process but I can imagine it is a mixture of voice processing/recording and some basic jottings. In any case, the way Elias writes his songs is different to many other people out there. My heart goes out to him but one of the other reasons I am so interested in his movements is how direct and captivating his sounds are. We often overlook artists who go through struggles, whether that is an illness or disability, or have some sort of impediment. It is not spotlighted but I wonder whether there are ways to combat that and provide assistance. I am sure Elias manages well but it must be hard, when he has an idea, to get it down straight and have it formed as easily as others. Rather than highlight dyslexia and let it define him; I wanted to congratulate the artist and look at what he is writing right now. It is amazing hearing his music come through and what it does to the senses. There are a lot of artists who write similar music/themes but nothing as stirring and majestic as Elias. You hear so many songwriters out there and it can be hard getting a grip on what is good and what succeeds. In a very hectic and packed world; how do you decide which artists are worth long-term fascination?! I feel Elias is one of those people who sticks around and remains in the brain because his music is so soulful and emotional.
The directness and instancy of Elias is something that defines his music. You listen to a song like Tearing Down the Walls and get a real sense of openness and revelation. He does not hide behind metaphors and disguises his language in meaningless ways. Maybe the way he gets his music onto the page – or recorder – means he is not fettling and endlessly tampering with words to get them right. I have been listening to his new album, Entwined, and each song has a different skin and personality. The common denominator is the way the tracks leap from the speakers and sit in the heart. It is a very special experience listening to Elias and what he is coming up with right now. I am drawn to his spirit and what he has to say. I will look at song derivation and why some artists go that little bit deeper but, before then, it might be worth looking at the state of the industry and how many artists are out there. I think about the issue a lot: the sheer size and breadth of music and how it can daunt the consumer. You have so many options and available avenues; it can be like a blitz or attack. Every week, there are new idols and options for the restless mind. We consume music differently to how we did, say, a decade ago. Now, we are much more about singles and tracks: albums, in their entirety, are less important and featured. I still love to listen to music right the way through but, when it comes to the newer acts; sometimes it is hard listening to everyone’s albums all the way through – there is so much more out there that needs to be investigated! That is not the fault of anyone but it interests me how far we have come in some respects; we have gone backwards in others. I am not sure what will happen to the music industry but it seems now, more than ever, it is tougher to get people to sit down and listen to your work all the way through and keep their minds hooked.
This may seem doom-laden and negative but my point is that there are those out there that sort off stop you in your tracks. It is hard looking out at music and picking those who are going to remain and succeed. You can never make that absolute prediction but there are some you know will remain and continue to do amazing things. Elias’ delivery and songwriting chemistry is different from anything else and makes quite an impression! His voice is soulful, as I said, but it is what he puts out there that compels. His way with words and what he does with subject matter stuns me. It is hard to pinpoint and define in words but you have to listen to the young man and how he does things. It is amazing hearing an Elias song and letting all the notes sink in. Some songs, like the one I am going to review, look at breaking down walls and boundaries. There seems to be an intergenerational divide and clash that affects us all. We all grew up listening to our parents’ experiences and how different it is to today. Even though he is based out of Sweden; the experiences of his parents are going to be similar to us here. My parents went through tough times and grew up in very humble and difficult circumstances. Now, I have the chance to make a better life and have more opportunity. That boundary-breaking spirit is not confined to life experience and domestic situation. What Elias is doing is tearing down the barriers in music and homes. There are no real splits between the music of now – Dance or Pop – and what was out there in the 1970s and 1980s. The same can be said for dancing, living or emotions. Whatever we feel is different now to back then – when our parents were young – it is really not at all. Maybe the economy and state of the world have changed but the roots and building blocks that make us who we are have not altered. Consider what your parents were dancing to or what made them special: that is the same for us and we have more in common than you’d think. These arbitrary and needless walls are placed and we often feel the needs to isolate ourselves from our ancestors. Elias is taking away this division and realises these (walls) is foolish and misguided.
Alongside the themes and stories of togetherness and unity is that central voice that digs very deep and unleashes a wave of emotions. Elias writes about his life and all its strands: the ugly and dirty aspects and the beautiful, bright moments. He understands what his parents felt/feel and knows there is that common link. The words and sentiments put out into the world can be understood by everyone and we all can learn a lot. I have listened to Elias’ album and learnt quite a lot about myself and other people. Maybe that is the way the Swedish songwriter puts his work out; perhaps that voice is what sparks it to life and gets it into the mind. There are singers who can articulate themselves in a potent and extraordinary manner. There is a deep sound but lightness and sensitivity working away. It is a fantastic brew and holds so many colours and diversions. Maybe it is the music he grew up listening to or how he has to adapt to dyslexia and its effect – the way the young man gets his voice out there is extraordinary. There are a few people lucky enough to hold that sort of power and nuance: if you have a talent like Elias; hold onto it and do whatever you can to bring it to the people. The combination of abilities and talented means you will stick with Elias and listen to everything he puts out. Whereas there are one or two songs on Entwined that are not as good as the best; there are no weak moments and you feel like the album, as a whole, is a very worthy and challenging treat. I have been listening back for a few days now and learning quite a lot. It is wonderful hearing Elias sing and what music means to him. The same way he is breaking down walls and keen to join generations through their common experiences; he wants people to bond over his music and learn more about themselves and the world around them.
Maybe I am waffling a bit – but that is what great artists do to you, I guess! What gets to me is how long Elias has spent in the studio and the work he puts in. He has logged thousands of hours and you can hear the progress made on his album. One can see the leaps he has made and how he has improved since his debut single (Revolution). All of his career and progress is on Entwined and you can hear how that time in the studio has strengthened what he is about. As a debut album; that voice scores so many different subjects and colours. Many artists produce an introduction that looks at love, life and things close to them. They say you need to write about what you know, as so, many will talk about their relationships and how they feel. That is all very well but it can be difficult making statements that are any different to your average songwriter. Love and relationships are not as complex as all that and it is easy to feel a little bored by the same words and expressions. Elias talks about human rights, the outside world and something far bigger than what is in his heart. Of course, he feels pains of broken love and the rush of lust but is not all about that. It can be quite bristling and egregious listening to someone pour their heart out for an album and not really changing things up. I understand the intention – to show the listener what makes them tick and defines them – but the world is a huge and complex place. Taking your listeners out of a comfort zone and opening their eyes to something more is much more credible and impressive. It is hard to decipher which artists can offer you that, as there is so much music, but I am always looking for acts who open your eyes and horizons.
Before I move onto a particular song that has caught my attention; I wanted to look at solo artists and a bit about Stockholm. I feel bands are starting to make a comeback and gaining more focus than they did years ago. The tide turned towards solo artists and it has been hard unearthing great bands that have the ammunition to go on and be a success. Maybe that was a phase but now, in 2018, there are some terrific groups who are starting to crack and turn opinion. Maybe it is the fact there are so many solo artists out there is can be challenging to separate them and stick firm. I get sent loads of music from solo artists and I always find something interesting. I can never sit still and spent too much time with someone and, whilst that is a problem for bands too, it is something that affects solo artists. The industry is packed and how long does one realistically have to listen to the music and let it all sink in?! Again, this might sound harsh but there are a few that demand more time and energy. Music is a fickle industry and a tough nut to crack; if you can do that and stand aside from the competition then you are doing something right. Elias has some common threads and movements – the way he sings and the accessibility of his compositions – but he goes out of his way to impress. You get a lot of interesting lines and hooks; some great clashes of upbeat and introverted. He has a bold and passionate soul but is capable of taking things down and being emotional. The same can be said when it comes to the songs and their themes. There is variation and stimulation working throughout. That, coupled with his determination and work ethic means he will be around for a long time and settle in the public consciousness.
Sweden and Stockholm and not areas we often look to but I feel we should all be more aware. I love the nation and wonder whether we spend too much of our time in the U.S. and U.K. There are great European artists emerging and parts of the world we do not focus too much on. Sweden has always produced brilliant artists and has a particular knack when it comes to Pop and Electronic music. The modern breed emerging is keeping the ethics of past masters but mixing so much colour and energy in. I feel the music we witness in the U.K. and U.S. can be a bit samey and commercial. Sweden has the same public demands and charts but the new artists from here seem less concerned with fitting into holes and compromising. The sounds are more free and expressive; they take in more sounds and fabrics and provide more fascination. There is a lot to recommend and, thinking of Elias, he seems to define what Sweden is about and how good its artists are. Look at where music is heading in terms of Pop and Alternative sounds and I wonder whether Sweden will get more attention. By that, I mean the artists coming from here are providing something more emphatic, energised and deep. Not that the music from Britain lacks those qualities: Swedish artists have that extra magic and seem to possess something artists here do not. I feel Pop music is shaping and shifting; it is getting more colourful and holding more emotional weight. You still get commercial stuff and cliché acts but the best of the newcomers are going further and doing something wonderful. I feel the nation deserves more acclaim and focus than it does right now. I am not sure whether Elias is in Stockholm full-time – or based in the U.K. some of the time – but he is doing the country proud and will get more ears and eyes turning the way of Sweden. I have talked enough about Elias and what he is about; looked at various angles and how I feel the young man will develop. I shall come onto a song from Entwined, I feel, defines the album: the celebrated and extraordinary Tearing Down the Walls.
Tearing Down the Walls starts with chanted and echoed vocals. It is a declaration and call that hints at what is to come. The hero steps to the microphone and wonders what would happen if we all ran together and joined forces. I feel, right from the off, there is that need to stop putting boundaries between us and thinking we are all different. We need to face things together and join with one another. Right at the start, you do not know whether the song refers to troubles in the world or it is something more personal. We will run together, it is said, but not be divided. There is that determination to fuse generations and people so we can all face things as one. You cannot listen to the song and feel like modern politics and social divisions are being overlooked. Given the way the world is splitting and how far apart we are drifting; rather than shut people away and feel we need to look out for ourselves; we need to attack and push through as a unit and take away these walls. It is a stirring and powerful message from the songwriter. You get the sense there is a bit of personal mandate in there. Maybe Elias has sat back and looked at how people push away others and feel they need to be independent. We are not that different from previous generations and we all think, broadly, the same way. We dance to the same beat as our parents and the way the world is spitting is not that distinct from decades ago. I wonder whether we learn from the past and are too willing to make mistakes and not take any lessons away. Whether referring to politics or how the young do not look to the past and their parents’ voices; these separations are dangerous and not how we should be going forward. What I sense, more than anything, is walls being broken down in terms of dance and movement.
You hear the big chorus and words and it seems like it’s a proclamation to get together through music and set things alight. Against all the struggle and turmoil that is happening; we all dance and react to music so that is what we need to do – a way through and a chance to set aside all our differences. The chorus has that big and proud sound that throws everything into the mix and creates spark and colour. I was fascinated by the energy and bold sound coming through. From a more contemplative and cautious verse; the song changes direction and urges everyone to get together and strike. The world might be burning, literally and metaphorically, but we can change things and make a difference. The track starts off with a deep look at what is happening around us and how we place blocks before us. After the first chorus; the mood changes and it seems like a breakthrough has been made. Elias is keen for Tearing Down the Walls to strike a chord and resonate. What we discover is a song that asks why we stands separate and do not willingly join together; how we all seem to look out for ourselves and why we need to change. You have that epic message of togetherness and surrendering to the dance. That is my interpretation and I realise, when you listen, you’ll get something different. However you view the song; it will remain in the mind and compel further listening. I was invested the first time around but have come back and discovered something fresh and unexpected further down the tracks. That is the mark of a great song: it hits you right away but keeps revealing magic and mystery after new spins. Tearing Down the Walls is a standout cut from Entwined and proof the Stockholm artist has a lot more to say in the future. Make sure you spend time with Elias and let the music absorb into the skin and influence the mind.
It has been a very busy year for Elias and his music. The debut album is out in the world and things are starting to hot up. Elias has released E.P.s and singles before but this is his full-length offering and something that will get his music to the wider world. We are becoming less interested in the album as a whole but there are musicians who compel greater concentration and intrigue. You cannot really casually dip into Entwined and sit back: it is a fascinating and fulsome album that requires proper investigation and passion. Because of that, I have not only listened to Tearing Down the Walls and left things there. I recommend everyone get behind the album and spends some proper time investigating, studying and listening. It is a fantastic work that collates all of Elias’ past works and shows what he is about right now. A career-spanning set of tracks that shows how compelling his music is; a brilliant and confident work from someone we will hear a lot of through the years. I am not sure what touring plans he has in mind but I know there will be some gigs here and there. Keep abreast of all his happenings through social media and, if he appears in a town near you; get out there and see what all the fuss is about. Critics have been given love to Entwined and it seems there is an appetite for what is putting out there. I am excited to see what happens next and where the young musician can go. I have written about Elias’ dyslexia and what he has to face; the sort of challenges behind his work and how hard it must be. It seems he copes and finds a way to articulate his music in a very raw and connecting way. I shall leave things here but I have loved discovering Elias and finding out what makes him tick. I hope he comes to the U.K. and plays over here; gets his music out to the world and keeps pushing forward. There are a lot of great solo artists around but there are very few that leave a big a mark…