He spoke to us and discussed his music, his film, his rice based wishes and his unique street shows.
RedRoseMusic: So you could you please start by describing your music in five words?
Elavi: My music is eclectic, energetic, emotionally charged, random. Is that five?
RRM: All musicians try to claim they have a unique point, do you have a unique style? If so what is it?
Elavi: I try to create my music from being outside the box. I don’t like what genres have become, people tend to box themselves off. I know people will say my music is Hip hop because it’s got element of that, but I hardly listen to it these days. I try and make each song different…
RRM: What influences your songs? Everyday things or big ideas and grand themes?
Elavi: Everyday things, I mean I try and put my own spin on things. A true artist, which is lacking these days, come from outside the mainstream. You look at all the stuff that’s happening…why is no one writing about it? I have a song called ”Clockwork” which is basically about being chained to the main idea of how we live our lives based on the clock. People just see it as normal…
RRM: In terms of other artists, is there anyone who really influences or inspires you?
Elavi: I try and be infuenced by everything thats going on around us, stuff just soaks in, y’know sometimes I’ll be on a train and I’ll hear somebody listening to something and I’ll be like…What’s that? And then I freak them out by going asking what it is….But also I am very inspired by artists with there own style…like Bowie who will never be normal or ever be repeated, he’s just too unique to be copied. Also artists like Prince, his body of work has touched so many genres.
RRM: Was there a moment or a piece of music that made you think, yeah I want to be a musician?
Elavi: Ermm…No, I kinda drifted into it…I used to do art work and then got into poetry and then got to a stage where I thought it would be great to put these things to music. I could never get my ideas across to people so thought, y’know it would be great to put this to music. I started with guitar…then keyboard and then the bass. Now, I rap and I play guitar no one else really does that…
RRM: You rap and play guitar, not many people do this, was this a natural route for you?
Elavi: It just kinda developed, I didn’t get guitar lessons I just wanted words with the music. I used to just start with something simple then stick my words with it. It’s only now that It’s developed where I put solo’s in and stuff. I don’t think it was a concious decision but a natural one.
RRM: You had a film called Revelation X, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Elavi: I did that whilst studying at uni, basically the film was about people’s ideas of race and how they interpret it. And how we are all kinda locked into ideas of race. I’m supposed to at look at myself as black, you guys are supposed to think as yourselves as white. And from those points, the race can be programmed. But I think its all clever programming to keep people divided. So I took different bits from films and related them to sterotypes and stuff.
RRM: You did it at uni, but did you release it wider?
Elavi: I tried, When I was at uni I tried releasing everything wider yeah, I came to uni with the idea that everything would be about helping artistic people get into the industry. But uni’s don’t do that. Or at least those that do are the real big universities.
RRM: What was the general reaction to the film?
Elavi: When I first did the film, It was part of a presentation and I think people were a little bit stunned by it. I wanted to shock ’em a little bit, I wanted them out of the zone. I hope people looked at things differently, I hope they did. When I look back at the stuff I did at uni, I wouldn’t say groundbreaking but now I’m not under the gaze of lecturers I think it’s pretty good. (You can see the film here.)
RRM: So back to music then, where can people see you in the next few weeks?
Elavi: I do everything out of the box. Erm, I don’t have any shows in Preston at the moment, but I’m down in York soon. And I’m going to be doing street shows pretty soon. The reason I do street performances is because I’ve found it’s the only way to develop your art yeah. You have to constantly get bigger and bigger. So now when I’m in a venue I feel BIG man! I’m going to try and play in all the uni halls, I’m going to play Roeburn. I’m wating for my flyers to be done, going to flood the place with ma flyers. I want to set up a proper show in Preston soon.
RRM: Do you perform in Manchester on the streets, because I’m pretty sure I bought a CD off you ages ago…
(Hand shake and thanks.)
RRM: What would you say your best gig was?
Elavi: I always think my last gig was my best. I don’t hang on to the past. At the moment this is the best I’ve been musically. Hopefully I will be better. And this is the thing, the industry is dying but live music is coming back…
RRM: I have read your comments on the state of the industry, how bad do you think it is?
Elavi: I’ll tell you how bad it is yeah, people won’t agree with this..but Richard Branson sold off his shops and you had Zavvi take over and they died, now HMV are going to shut 60 stores, I can assure you it’s in a terrible way yeah. The problem is the digital sales have not been big enough to offset the way CD sales were. So if you are an artist whose been given a massive advance, you have a massive problem because the label want that back, but there’s no one buying anything.
RRM: So you think that live performance is now the only way to make any money now?
Elavi: Yeah, I do, I do. I mean I worked my socks off to get my stuff in HMV and everytime I sold out, they just deleted me! So everytime I had to get back onto the phone to head office. So thats why I decided to do the street performances. And once I was playing on Friargate and I looked down at the case was just full of money, And I thought this street thing is lucrative! These are the days where if an artist is brave enough and says no we don’t want a deal, they can build themselves up. I play to hundreds of thousands each day.
RRM: If you could use any one of your lyrics and use it as a piece of inspiration or advice, what would it be?
Elavi: ”Free Your Mind” simple. Something that’s no big deep thing, just free your mind. Because after we get to about seven years old, we just plug into the tried and tested of everything. Again the street stuff, puts me totally out of the box. Some people love what you’re doing, and others are like, EW what you doing? But yeah If people were to free their minds, they would come up with a lot more stuff.
RRM: Would you rather be an elephant or a cow?
Elavi: I would rather be a cow..NO an African elephant. It’s a good situation innit. Lots of animals to look at, and good heat and that. No one messes with an elephant.
RRM: If you could be any food what would it be?
Elavi: If I could be any food, I think I would be something basic…Something like rice. But lots of rice so I could feed the millions.
You can listen to Elavi here.