Using a mix of R&B sounds, dreamy pop, along with words from people she meets, Elisa Ailes takes her music to a whole new level. A Brighton-based Swedish alternative pop performer, she uses her experiences through her lyrics to help people feel heard and appreciated.
Inspired by talents such as Billie Eilish, D’angelo, Audrey Nuna, Lana del Rey, Veronica Maggio, and Joji, her songs are a combination of her passion and what motivates her to spread a message to the world.
At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, she began writing songs in her childhood bedroom in Stockholm. With two self-produced tracks already released in the same year, “Yada Yada” and “Red Skies”, Elisa continues that passion to reach the heart of her audience by doing what she does best.
“Skinny Garden”, her newest offering, is a song that talks about the struggles of someone dealing with body image issues. With the kind of world we live in today, Elisa wants people to feel empowered with their true selves. Having quite a sensitive topic expressed through a song is not new, especially in this generation, so it’s powerful to see and hear how artists continue to use their gift to make people feel comforted and that they’re not alone.
What makes it even more special is that it’s one of Elisa’s personal songs. Going back to memories of experiences she’s been into before and creating something that speaks from the heart, hoping that it could reach and help people is something truly wonderful.
In this exclusive interview with Elisa, she opens up to tell us what she’s about and the inspirations her new song carries.
The song is wonderful, congratulations! I love the slow, chill vibe. Can you share the story behind “Skinny Garden”?
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you like it.
The song started out as a poem that I wrote when I was struggling with body image issues. I posted it to my private Tumblr blog and then forgot about it. I found it again last year when I was looking through my old posts and I was instantly drawn to it. I put chords under it and then took it to my producer and we finished it up together.
What or who are your inspirations as you orchestrate the themes of your songs?
Most of my inspiration comes from conversations I’ve had with other people, things I’ve read somewhere, or just random words or sentences that pop into my head. When I write I usually start with lyrics and melody, and I’m pretty much always humming or writing lyrics down on my phone. I always try to make my writing honest and raw but also slightly embellished, like you’re secretly reading someone’s diary.
Some of my favorite songwriters that inspire me at the moment are Veronica Maggio, SZA, Joji, and Labrinth.
Ever since the pandemic in 2020, the rise of artists are becoming very prominent. How has the quarantine helped you to shape and continue your passion for music?
There’s been a DIY artist trend going around for years now with genres like bedroom pop gaining popularity, but I think the pandemic really set this off and brought it into the mainstream. There are so many talented new artists that have emerged from social media just by recording themselves playing music in their bedroom and I’m here for it! I think everyone’s gotten a bit tired of the overproduced, pitch-perfect pop music that’s been everywhere the last couple of years. People want something different. It’s a really exciting time for indie artists like myself.
I always try to make my writing honest and raw but also slightly embellished, like you’re secretly reading someone’s diary.Elisa Ailes
The song has a slow but adventurous vibe to it along with the powerful theme it brings. What inspired you to write the track?
When I first wrote the original lyrics it was just something that I needed to write for myself, I never meant for anyone else to see it. There was this ideal body type for women that was circulating on Tumblr in the 2010s (thigh gaps, petite, flat stomach, ribs showing, etc.) that I was constantly seeing on my dashboard. I would always compare myself to these girls and I started seeing them as almost this unattainable ideal, like they were these perfect fairy creatures or something and I was this big ugly troll. I desperately wanted to be them, but I also hated them because they made me feel worse about myself.
That’s the kind of thing body dysmorphia and eating disorder does to you that nobody wants to talk about. It takes over your whole mind until it warps not just the way you view yourself but the way you look at other people. I got so jealous and spiteful of these random girls that I didn’t even know, and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it because I knew it was wrong. It was torture.
“Skinny Garden” was one of the last poems I wrote before I stopped using the platform. I’m in a much better place now and things have really changed within the last couple of years with the body positivity movement. But I’ve noticed this idolisation of thinness and body checking trends coming back on apps like TikTok. It’s very concerning to me as someone who’s already lived through it once. I think maybe that’s why I wanted to write a song about it.
I’ve listened to your previous songs, “Yada Yada” and “Red Skies”. I enjoyed the soothing guitar beats from “Yada Yada” and the peaceful vibe from “Red Skies.” Can you share what makes “Skinny Garden” unique from your previous songs?
“Skinny Garden” is the first original track my producer and I have worked on together. We’re both at the same university so we had done some covers and performance assessments together, but we had never collaborated on a song together before. I think there is a clear difference between the track and my previous work sonically thanks to this.
My previous tracks are very indie, but I wanted this song to sound like the kind of dark pop music that was circulating Tumblr back in the 2010s so for the production we took inspiration from artists like Billie Eilish, Lana del Rey and Halsey. We also added some alternative R&B influences like Jordan Rakei.
I think it’s also one of the most personal songs I’ve written since it deals with such a sensitive topic. I had to go back to a place that I hadn’t been in for a long time while working on it. I’m kinda nervous to see how people will react to it.
“Skinny Garden” was one of the last poems I wrote before I stopped using the platform. I’m in a much better place now and things have really changed within the last couple of years with the body positivity movement.Elisa Ailes
Who helped you pursue your passion to be a singer and songwriter?
I think I’d have to say my parents and my brothers have been my biggest supporters right from the start. My parents have always supported my dream of pursuing a music career and my older brother Oscar is actually the one playing guitar in my single “Red Skies” and he’s helped me out with the production on both of my previous tracks.
I’d also have to mention my boyfriend Brenan who produces my songs and sometimes co-writes with me. It sounds a bit silly but because I’m so used to writing on my own, I can be a bit of a nightmare to work with. But since we’re in a relationship I feel safe showing him my ideas or bickering with him in the studio because I know that at the end of the day, he’s not going to hate me. His passion for music and knowledge of it has made me want to improve as an artist as well.
I think it’s also one of the most personal songs I’ve written since it deals with such a sensitive topic. I had to go back to a place that I hadn’t been in for a long time while working on it. I’m kinda nervous to see how people will react to it.Elisa Ailes
With the release of “Skinny Garden”, what message does this song bring to listeners and what do you want us to learn and realize from this song as we listen to it?
I think I was just trying to write the type of song that I felt like I needed when I was 17 and in a really bad place. I think everyone struggles with body image issues at least once in their life, it’s hard not to in the type of world we live in right now.
But it’s such a sensitive topic and nobody wants to talk about it. I just hope that this song will find those who need it and help them feel a bit less alone. I’d urge anyone who relates to this song to open up to someone you trust. You don’t have to go through this alone.
I’ve read in your bio that you’ve been writing and producing songs since the start of 2020. That’s amazing! Can you share some of your plans for the near future? Like releasing an album soon or going on tour?
Right now, I’m preparing to release a new song in late April. It’s a chill pop track with R&B influences that’s perfect for laid back summer days. It’s unlike anything I’ve released so far but I’m really excited about this new direction my music is heading into!
My producer and I are finishing up our last year of university so things are about to get really busy for us, but we’re working towards an EP that we’re aiming to finish at the end of the summer.
Stream “Skinny Garden” below.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Agatha is a college student taking up Psychology and a blogger who loves her dog and mom. Music is her way to find inspiration, excitement, and creativity in writing and in life. She dreams of becoming a Licensed Mental Health Counselor someday. For now, she helps people by sharing good music that uplifts and makes them deeply feel their vibes.