elxina (pronounced “el-z-eye-nuh”) is a Minnesota musician like no other.
Not only is the 20-year-old artist a gifted vocalist and songwriter, she also has fifteen years of dance training. She blends all her talents on her latest EP, Bedroom Pop.
elxina’s biggest influences are smooth jazz and r n’ b. Her friend and collaborator Andrew Selchow, who produced her debut record High School High, has also been an influence, especially his psychedelic rock side.
She released her first album and EP, which were collaborations with Selchow, in 2017 (they considered them “practice,” so they’ve been taken off streaming services). High School High followed in 2018.
elxina’s latest, self-produced Bedroom Pop, is a unique work of art. It’s not just an EP, it is a multimedia experience. Each of its three tracks features videos with original choreography filmed by Adam Foster Jacobs, who has worked on two other projects with elxina.
Musically, Bedroom Pop is expansive.
There are heavy beats, soulful r n’ b, and even touches of melodic, singer/songwriter pop.
elxina calls opening track “8 Ball” her “Kanye moment for sure.” The dark, engrossing beat makes that comparison valid, in addition to the creative way it came together.
“It was different from any other song I’ve made,” she says. “It was originally a ‘scratch’ beat I made as a requirement for a production class. I ended up really liking the main bass melody, so the lyrics just flowed freely. It’s very badass and hip hop of me, which is definitely part of who I am, but not usually prominent in what I create. This made it a lot of fun.”
The EPs second track, “Seasons,” immediately displays elxina’s expansive talent.
There is a hint of the haunting hip hop of “8 Ball,” but the soulful track is led by a descending chord progression played by guitar and keyboard.
Incredibly, she explains that the track was written rather quickly: “I made the instrumental in probably 20 minutes one day, was completely shook by what I’d just done, and wrote the lyrics in the coming days.”
The highlight of Bedroom Pop, though, is the poppy singer/songwriter vibe of EP-closing “High Hoping.”
Like “Seasons,” the background of the track is somewhat magical. “I wrote the song a couple months after first learning guitar, and I wrote it as practice,” elxina says. Coming from a guitar player, this is pretty amazing. Believe me, I definitely wasn’t writing something this complex as practice when I first picked up the guitar. I feel like very few people could.
As on the entire EP, elxina’s vocals shine on “High Hoping.” It is also very strong melodically.
The track’s endearing lo-fi sound was intentional. “It’s actually a demo,” she explains. “I tried re-recording it three different times before deciding to go with the demo – there was a charm that couldn’t be replicated in the original recording.”
An expansive, unique release, Bedroom Pop is a big accomplishment for elxina. “This whole EP was really a learning experience for me in every way,” she says. “Now that it’s done, I’m looking forward to continuing my growth and expanding my creative possibilities.”
Check out our exclusive interview with elxina below!
MiM: When did you know you wanted to be a songwriter?
elxina: I wrote my first “good” song at age 15. I’m not a very religious person now, but at the time I was very involved with a Christian church and in touch with spirituality, which was what my first few songs were about. My debut was as a Christian pop artist, if you will.
I remember writing the entire song in 15 minutes and feeling like God had written it through me. I had unlocked a power I’d never accessed before, and the feeling it gave me was unlike any I’d felt. It was a high I had to chase – the feeling I still get every time I write, which I describe as me “glowing and levitating.” This particular experience marked me knowing I was gifted, and it also felt like God showing me my destiny.
Since then, I’ve never questioned my calling. Now, I can access the same spiritual high regardless of the subject matter. If I go too long without writing, I experience real psychological unease. There’s nothing else I do that compares.
MiM: What bands/artists/musicians/songwriters influenced your decision to begin writing songs?
elxina: Frank Ocean is one of the only artists that has always been in my playlists. I think around the time I started writing I was listening to a lot of sad girl music like Lana Del Rey, Daughter, and Bon Iver. My taste has evolved a lot.
MiM: What popular musicians today do you like listening to the most? Do any influence your music?
elxina: Frank Ocean, Tame Impala, Daniel Caesar, Moses Sumney, Solange, Willow, FKA Twigs (recently), H.E.R…. all of those names I have deep respect for. Of course, what I listen to informs the things I create, but I try not to be influenced too much. Usually, I feel like my ideas come from an authentic place within. I sometimes will stop myself when something is sounding TOO much like a song I’ve heard before… These are just artists who resonate with my own creative aspirations. Moses Sumney is my dream collaboration at the moment.
MiM: Explain how your longtime friend and producer Andrew Selchow has an influence on your work.
elxina: Andrew and I started working together in a music production class our senior year of high school. At this point, I knew I could write songs, but I still never considered actually pursuing a career as an artist.
Working with him changed everything – it was so easy. I’d pretty much just watch him create instrumentals for me, which is how I learned the basics of production.
For the first couple years, I was writing/arranging lyrics and melodies over musical arrangements he’d make for me. That was our process. Singing over so many of his chord progressions has informed the way I write music on my own.
Now that I’ve learned guitar and gotten my own production chops up, I find myself writing things that sound like something he’d make. Being my only collaborator, he helped shape me as a songwriter.
Beyond that, he’s the most talented and hard-working person I know, and that alone inspires me to keep going.
MiM: How is Bedroom Pop different from your first release, High School High?
elxina: Like I mentioned, my process with Andrew in the past has been basically me writing lyrics over a progression he’d written. High School High was written in this style, and from opposite sides of the country on top of that, since he’s been at school in Nashville. There’s not much room for collaboration when we’re collaborating from miles apart -it’s difficult.
We’d planned on releasing a couple projects after High School High but decided to wait until we could work side-by-side again. The waiting is what birthed Bedroom Pop, which is my first self-produced project, so all the decisions were made by me. I find that when I write for myself, song structure is less rigid, and everything feels that much more authentic. It’s also a lot more samples and midi sounds, whereas Andrew plays live instruments on our songs together.
MiM: Bedroom Pop combines your songs with stunning choreography. Tell us how you went about creating it. Did the songs come first? Did you have the choreography in mind as you wrote?
elxina: I choreographed everything after the songs had been written. In my past as a choreographer, I’ve always let my movement be informed by the music that inspires me. Some dance makers will make movement based off abstract concepts or spoken word, or really any other ideas, and then either find music afterwards or perform in silence… there’s lots of ways to do it. Personally, music has always inspired me first and foremost as a dancer. This is why I’m so excited to create them in tandem throughout my career.
I studied dance at Gustavus-Adolphus for the 2017-2018 school year. During this time, we did a lot of study/exploration of site-specific choreography, which is basically creating movement in an unusual space (not just on a stage) that can’t be performed elsewhere without modification because it interacts with its specific surroundings.
When I choreographed Bedroom Pop, I was creating in the same studio that we filmed in, so I was able to utilize those tools and really interact with the space. This worked especially well for this project, since one of the themes I explored was isolation. The movement in “Seasons,” which travels along the borders of the room, climbing up the walls and such, depicts that theme.
To purchase or listen to/watch Bedroom Pop on various platforms, click here.