By Andrew Fraley
Multi-talented pop music artists are few and far between in this day and age. An artist who takes total creative control of the production process of her music is even more rare. It is a breath of fresh air to see ElodieO, a classically-trained, multi-disciplined newcomer to the indie synth-pop scene. With the release of her debut solo album, Stubborn, on August 19, and corresponding album release party on August 28, ElodieO is making a name for herself in the music world.
It was a slow progression for ElodieO to get where she is today musically; she didn’t start as an electro pop diva. Originally born Elodie Ozanne in Paris, France, she was classically trained in the cello, as well as dance and theatre. She grew up listening to jazz, classical and bebop; it wasn’t until she moved to New York City that she began listening to rock and pop music. She quickly gained a new love of electronic music. She was heavily influenced by pop and rock artists, such as Björk and Manu Chao, and music from 50’s and 60’s movies.
It was in 2000, when she met Manuel Bienvenu, that she began to develop her unique musical voice. Together with Bienvenu, they founded the band Elm. Elm released two critically acclaimed albums, had successful tours in the US and Europe and opened for artists like Cat Power. Elodie eventually left the band to start her own burgeoning solo career.
With the release of Stubborn, Elodie exhibits nearly full control over the creative process. The entire album was fully self-arranged, composed and produced, except for “Unexpected So,” which was produced and arranged by Chris Kelly. Stubborn’s production was a new experience for her. “I’d never composed anything before,” explained Elodie. “I was trained in performance art, and producing is very tough.” Anything she didn’t know she learned, including how to use recording and editing software. Consequently, the album was a long time in the making. The four year process evolved organically, according to Elodie. “Everything was equally important to me. The sound, arrangement, lyrics. It was very interesting, but it was slow.”
But the hard work paid off; Stubborn is one of the more distinctive albums of this year. Combining the synth pop styling of the French electronic explosion, modern rock instrumentals and Elodie’s distinguished whispered melodies make the album a scintillating aural experience. Part of what makes Stubborn so interesting is that it isn’t constrained by any one genre. Her eclectic influences are all clearly present in her songs, giving them a transcendental feeling. This being her first solo LP, Elodie shows great potential for the further development of her unique musicality. She already has a general idea and direction for her next album. While she will most likely have somebody help with production this time around, she plans to retain much of the creative control. “I have no interest in just putting my voice out there…Since I do a lot of work on my own, I will still remain the band leader.”
To accompany her August 19 album release, Le Royale nightclub hosted a release party, featuring an opening DJ and Elodie as the headliner. I was a bit reticent to check out the club as I was unsure of what sort of scene it would be. Le Royale, as it turns out, is a very happening place. With 60’s inspired art nouveau décor and a slight hipster presence, Le Royale, located near Grenwich Village, was a crazy dance party on this particular night. The DJ played a juxtaposition of 80’s pop and driving drum and bass lines. This is apparently all the rage today, and everyone on the dance floor, including a man with a giant balloon for a head and the very same transvestite who was seen dancing on stage for Girl Talk’s set at All Points West, went nuts. A young man informed me that, according to myopenbar.com, the bar was serving free vodka until eleven. Two screwdrivers later and I was having a total blast. At about eleven Elodie went on. She played a very solid set, which featured most of the songs from the album. The performance was slightly marred by technical difficulties; her keyboard didn’t work the entire set, and her vocals were always a bit low—I could barely hear her melodica when she played it. Her very capable backing musicians more than made up for it, however. The evening was quite successful, and a good time was had by all.
You can check out more information on ElodieO and her album at stubborn.elodieo.com.