Elise Eriksen Unveils New Ballad “Smile” With Stunning Visuals
Mar 10, 2021
17-year old talent Elise Eriksen undoubtedly has all it takes to make it big in the music industry. Daughter of one half of super-producers Stargate (Rihanna, Katy Perry, Coldplay, Beyonce), the Norwegian talent moved to New York City soon after discovering her love for singing and is now based in Los Angeles. Inspired by the likes of Stevie Nicks, Alicia Keys, Don Toliver, Pink Floyd, and Etta James, Elise Eriksen is now writing pop anthems after having spent years learning how to play the piano, and is certainly one of the most exciting new artists to watch right now.
After seeing her upbeat, debut single “Less” featuring Shoffy amass over 1 million streams while receiving international radio play and being featured on key global playlists on Spotify and Apple, Elise Eriksen is back with yet another tune, smooth ballad “Smile.” Opting for a slower tempo in comparison to the funk vibes in “Less,” “Smile” is an inspirational, stripped-back gem driven by smooth piano, stunning vocal melodies and haunting lyrics.
You just released your second single “Smile.” Talk to us about the story behind the song and how it came about?
I heard Sasha Sloan sing it on a demo and I fell completely in love with it. I felt like it really represented who I am because a lot of the time we kind of put on a brave face and pretend like everything’s fine, when it’s not. And that was the exact message of that song. I thought it was really important to share that and record it in a meaningful way so that people understood that it was something real.
What do the lyrics mean to you?
In the song, Sasha talks about how she’s just trying to figure her shit out and I think that that’s something that everyone’s trying to do. Because no one really knows what’s going to happen in the next couple months, or even a couple days. Everything’s just kind of a mess right now. A big mess of uncertainty. I think it’s important to acknowledge that a lot of people are going through that experience and that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not be happy, and everything shouldn’t be going perfectly, because this is a chaotic time. We should recognize that humans aren’t perfect. That’s just how it is.
The music video for “Smile” is really visually captivating. How did you and your team come up with the idea of shooting on a frozen lake and how was your experience on set?
We came up with that idea because I play the piano on the song, and we wanted a way to incorporate Norway and Norwegian culture into the video, considering that’s where I’m from. So, you know, we mashed the two together, threw the piano on some ice, and hoped for the best! It was super cool. The only thing about it that was tough was that I wasn’t wearing gloves and it was -15 degrees. It was really cold. We had to, you know, take a bunch of takes, so I was almost in tears after every single time I had to play. We definitely went the extra mile, but I’m glad I did it. The video turned out great, so I’m super happy.
Your debut single “Less” was co-written with platinum-selling songwriter Julia Michaels and featured both Shoffy and Blu DeTiger. Talk to us a bit about how writing the song with them was like.
That song was kind of about two things. One side of it is about long distance: when it almost feels like a long-distance relationship, even when you’re close together, because there’s such a disconnect. And the other aspect of it is, you know, the pandemic. You want to be with the people that you love and surround yourself with your friends, but it’s impossible. It’s a tough thing because we’re so used to being social, seeing people every day, and socializing. And all of a sudden, it was completely gone. So, the song kind of speaks about the social aspect of the pandemic that’s been difficult.
The song originally started off as something closer to house or techo. When I sat down to make it my own, I wanted to incorporate genres that I liked, and that were personal to me. So, at first, we made a ballad version with strings. And then we made kind of a funky version that was a little R&B, a little pop, a little indie, and some funky bass guitar. We were between those two, but the upbeat one just really spoke to me because I think that we need something uplifting right now. And now I have a good balance between “Less” and “Smile”, something real and raw, and then something uplifting.
What’s your writing process like? Do you prefer to set aside time for writing and really focus on each specific session, or are you always writing songs on the fly?
I’ll just write down random phrases that I want to use in a song, and I’ll just collect those. Other times I’ll make a beat on my computer and then I’ll just build on top of that with a friend, or on my own, or with my dad. It just depends, but I really like just capturing things from my day and writing about those too. Usually, I don’t have time to sit and write a whole song, but those little phrases can help so much. I have a notes page on my phone.
You are originally from Norway, yet moved to New York and later on in Los Angeles. What led you to move to LA, and do you think being in LA is important for up-and-coming artists?
We moved to LA to be around artists and the music industry, because it seemed as though everyone was moving from New York to LA. We thought it would be a wise idea to surround ourselves with those creative people for my dad’s work, and for eventually me, because there’s no better environment to grow up in than one where you’re surrounded by a diverse and creative crowd. And I’m absolutely so thankful for that. I love it. And the good weather is a nice bonus, too!
You are still in school, trying to balance studying with your music career. How do you manage to find time for both?
You know, I’ve always liked music more than school. I’m gonna be completely honest here, I always have. (laughs) I hope my school doesn’t see this. It isn’t easy finding time to do everything, but you just got to time manage. You got to set a plan for yourself and a schedule, and just work around it with school. Now that I’m in college, I’m getting by in school and doing my best. As long as I get to do what I love doing, all the other stuff is just extra.
Talk to us a bit about your father, Mikkel Eriksen. How has he impacted your artistic evolution and progression over the years?
He’s the one who made it able for me to take piano lessons and singing lessons when I was young. I’m eternally grateful for that. Growing up in the studio taught me so much. I know how hard this industry is. I know that it’s not just glitz and glamour and all fun and games, because you can see the long hours artists put in, and you see the hard work and dedication of artists and producers and everything. It’s given me a real outlook on the realities of the music industry, and that I’m really thankful for. Because a lot of people expect it to be, you know, stuff like the events and being famous and buying shit, but that’s not how it is in the slightest. And seeing my dad, someone come from a small town in Norway, make it big is incredibly inspiring. It makes me want to work harder, and to make him proud.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations right now?
I’d say Rihanna has always been one of them. I love, love, love her. And Stevie Nicks is one of my biggest inspirations. She’s the coolest woman in rock, in my opinion. I also love bands like Queen and ABBA. I’ve always been a fan of the older stuff. I just love the music that was produced in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Things were kind of free and more relaxed back then, it seems. R&B artists, too, like Aaliyah, she’s fantastic. And Lady Gaga’s fantastic. I mean, there’s a lot of people. You get inspired every day by a new person.
“Less” was a massive success for a debut single, receiving heavy radio play and amassing over 1 million streams. How does it feel to know that your music is already being heard so much and is impacting peoples’ lives?
It’s surreal, actually. I can’t wrap my head around it. It’s such a weird feeling. But it makes me happy to know that people are interested in it. People want to hear what’s coming next. And that really excites me. That encourages me to keep going and to keep trying to go bigger and bigger and show people what I love doing.
What has been the sweetest message you ever received from a fan?
I got one yesterday, actually! I’m gonna find it… Here it is. She said, “Hey, just wanted to say I really love ‘Smile’. I don’t know how I came across it on Spotify, but I’m glad I did. It makes me sad because I relate to it so much. When I came across your account, I thought you would have hella followers and be verified, but there’s no way that you won’t be because your voice is so good.” The nice thing about that message is that people do relate to the song. That’s what really just made me happy, because it’s showing that it is making an impact and people are listening to it because they feel the same. As long as my music touches even one person in the world, that makes me happy. It makes me feel like I’ve done my job.
We know you have an EP ready and scheduled for this year. Is there anything you can reveal to us about it?
I can reveal that there are a lot of exciting features and that there are lots of exciting new songs. I also experiment with genres. I’m really excited for everybody to hear it.