It took just three seconds for Elias’s debut single ‘Revolution’ to leave an indelible impression. That voice emerged from out of the ether: tender yet possessing an evident power, it built into a powerful crescendo which exudes the passion of soul. It’s a vocal you’d expect from someone whose talents had been seasoned by decades of performance and heartache.
Yet a second surprise is soon forthcoming, for Elias is just 19-years-old.
Thematically it’s a classic protest song. “’Revolution’ is about the beauty of breaking up something you don’t believe in and instead doing something the way that you want to,” he explains. “It’s not an angry song, it’s more about the excitement of being able to make a brand new start.”
Elias grew up in Stockholm, Sweden in a normal working class family. His first musical memory is that of singing along as his mother performed punk-inspired work songs. He too would write, although it took a little time for him to realise that his words could be shaped into songs that would command the attention of an audience.
“When I wrote ‘Revolution’ a lot of people reacted really positively which gave me a lot of confidence,” he recalls. “But before then, it took some time to find my own sound. It was a slow and very natural process that came complete when I began working with, the Stockholm-based producer/writer, HYENA on Revolution”.”
On first impressions, Elias’s next single ‘Green Eyes’ is almost the polar opposite of ‘Revolution’. His wounded roar of a vocal is again instantly engaging, but this time it is set to a wall of beats, bass and synths that collide to form a dramatic sonic augmentation.
‘Green Eyes’ is the first result of his collaboration with the London-based producer GRADES has earned a growing recognition for his soulful aesthetic and unique takes on R&B, house and garage.
“In ‘Green Eyes’ I have tried to portray the pain and despair you feel when you can’t let go of a person,” says Elias. “Even though you really have to, and it's the only thing you want to. This perfect person that is still a monster in your head.”
The two songs will both feature on Elias’s debut EP that will be released on November 6th. It’s a set that represents a diverse array of approaches but is neatly tied together by HYENA who’s credited on four out of the six songs. Otis Redding is an obvious inspiration, but Elias also credits FKA twigs, Spooky Black and Patti Smith as artists that he admires “for making his own way.” His other songs could be bolder in scale or far more intimate; they could be built around live instrumentation or structured on electronic sounds: “I don’t want my music to be limited by any rules.”
His most common lyrical theme, he winces, is “stuff that goes unsaid, or stuff that fucking hurts.” He’s motivated by investigating his nation’s social issues which aren’t often addressed in song: racism, the rise of far right politics and growing inequality.
Elias’s launch with ‘Revolution’ prompted comparisons with artists such as Sam Cooke and Antony Hamilton, while Radio 1’s Head of Music George Ergatoudis states that Elias “has the most incredible voice I’ve heard since Sam Smith.” His potential has also been recognised by Spotify who have selected him as a Spotlight artist for 2016.
His summer touring included major festivals including Reeperbahn, Roskilde and Way Out West as well as his debut London show at The Sebright Arms. He also recently made his first major TV appearance in front of 2 million people on the Swedish/Norwegian talk show Skavlan with the backing of a string section and gospel backing singers.
Elias has recently been in the studio together with producer Paul Epworth (Adele, Coldplay) and HYENA and will follow the release of his debut EP with sessions with John Hill (Florence + The Machine, Christina Perri) and Fraser T. Smith (Adele, Ellie Goulding).
A mere moment of hearing Elias’s vocal gift provides evidence for his huge potential. Learning a little more about the man behind the music only increases that respect.
@BrandenJMusic Thx for the kind words 💞