Get to Know ElyOtto [Interview]

Ian Hansen

While many people know ElyOtto from his hit song, “SugarCrash!,” which became a TikTok sensation and has amassed over around 240 million streams on Spotify, he recently released his forward thinking EP, HELLSCAPE SUBURBIA. The project is hyperpop-inspired with its own flare. Get to know about ElyOtto below:

Congrats on HELLSCAPE SUBURBIA releasing. What do you want fans to get from it, and what was the creative direction?

To be honest, when I was making HELLSCAPE SUBURBIA, a lot was going on, and I wasn’t in my most creative or inspired head space. I was going to keep going, and keep working on music throughout that. HELLSCAPE SUBURBIA shows my progress as an artist. It was made over a year so you can sort of hear the difference. You can hear what tracks are advanced production-wise. I want my fans to see my improvements as an artist.

How has your sound evolved over time as you get acclimated to the industry?

It’s getting more characteristic. My sounds are more sweet, melodic, and straight to the point. I’ve been really experimenting with distortion, how I can make a song sound gritty and counteract that commercial pop we have going on right now.

Do you have any live performances or shows in the works?

I have no idea what will be happening live. I’ve always wanted to get into live performances because it’s something I did quite a bit as a kid, and it was something I really enjoyed. Lately, due to the pandemic, it hasn’t really been a main focus for me. The main focus has been producing and what not. I have a giant network of musician friends and people who are in punk bands, produce and mix all day, and if I collaborate with them, we will get a proper live set going.

Going back to the EP, what was the process of making that, and what do you do when you may not be in the most creative head space?

I put things off. I’m a huge procrastinator. I do everything in my power to just find as much inspiration as I could. We were in lockdowns, and obviously school isn’t the most exciting thing ever. Anyway I could find inspiration such as going on walks or going to social gatherings to feel something. I’d say toward the end of the EP, things got easier because there was more going on. 

What does the title HELLSCAPE SUBURBIA mean? What’s the theme?

It’s meant to encapsulate an extended play of what I was making before like “SugarCrash!” and all of that. It kind of draws from that feeling of being trapped and uninspired. It’s a pandemic sort of piece.

What got you into making music in the first place?

My parents are musicians so I’ve always sort of been into it. I would say in 2016 was when I started messing around in GarageBand and what not. There were certain artists that were inspiring to me. To hear electronic randomness that I hadn’t heard before was mind blowing to me so I wanted to recreate it. I started there.

Your sound is very unique. I love the style you’re going for. How did you find your sound over time, and why did you go in the direction you did?

I try to make my music with other artists in mind that I’ve heard in the past. For example, when I’m making a song, I might have a beat and think it’s very Fleetwood Mac. I’m making what I want to hear. I have a very specific taste, and I’m making what I want to hear on repeat all day long.

What artists would you say inspire your sound?

I’m very inspired by other artists in the hyperpop scene such as 100 gecs. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of deep dives in obscure musical corners of the internet like Bandcamp. I have been finding these strange artists. I listen to the mixes and their sets from shows so I draw a lot of my inspiration from there. 

At the young age of 18, you already have a viral song with “SugarCrash!.” What is it like seeing it blow up on TikTok? How do you handle that?

I did the most direct route. I deleted my social media’s. I don’t go on TikTok anymore. I get such an overwhelming amount of feedback on my music. A lot of it is really good critiquing, and I’ve seen a lot of beautiful art with “SugarCrash!,” as the background. Social media is a real problem for me because I have an addiction to it and can’t get anything done. Throughout the majority of my life, I pretend “SugarCrash!” doesn’t exist and carry on.

Did you know it was going to be a smash when you were making it?

No, absolutely not. I figured some of my friends may listen to it but not to the extent that it went.

Do you remember the process of it blowing up and the moment where it was starting to gain traction?

It blew up specifically on August 27th, the day I released it. I kept getting likes and refreshing my social media, and there were more and more likes, comments, and shares. It was insane to me. I didn’t know what to do. I was jumping around like it couldn’t be happening.

You do everything with singing, producing, writing. How important is it as an artist to be able to do everything?

Being versatile is very important to me, and I’m really into exploring different genres. I mostly produce, but I’ve been doing more instruments lately like acoustic stuff and regular ole’ guitar. I think it’s really important that I have access to all of these different resources for making all sorts of different types of music. If I’m being honest, I got sick of hyperpop really fast. I just want to make something different. As I develop as a person, I want to keep making different stuff. 

What more can we expect from you for the rest of the year?

To keep experimenting. I want to keep experimenting and making the most different, strange sounding music I possibly can. I want to work on myself as a musician and to keep making what I love. 

What do you do to get away from music?

I collect a lot of super colorful things. Outside of music, I’m really focused on my friends. All I want to do is hang out with my friends and make music with them and chill.

What’s the balance of being an artist and teenager?

The balance is when I’m being a stupid teenager with my friends, we don’t talk about the whole music thing. We don’t act like it exists. It barely comes up.

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