Atwood Magazine speaks to Eliza & The Delusionals about the band’s exciting moment, their new EP, and what it means to feel it all and turn it into music.
There’s something uniquely cathartic about rock music. About the way guitar strums support voices that can’t help but scream out the words. About the way a riff can unexpectedly change a song’s direction. About how the drums can unconsciously control your heartbeat and energy levels. Australian rock band Eliza & the Delusionals are masters of using rock and pop-inflected sound to elicit emotions and pour their hearts out.
The band’s latest EP, A State of Living in an Objective Reality, released March 20th, investigates the ups and downs of young adulthood, mental health, and provides endless opportunities for lyric screaming as a form of spiritual healing. It’s a classic rock occasionally tinged with a pinkish pop sound, bringing levity The EP marks a rebirth for the band, who went through lineup changes, a change in management, and “a really weird time” between their first EP, released in 2017, and A State of Living.
It could have hardly gone better. “Just Exist”, one of the EP’s standout tracks, gained traction in Australia and abroad at the end of last year, bringing Eliza & The Delusionals to the US for a few months in early 2020 as they opened for Silversun Pickups, had songwriting sessions in LA, and we’re slated for appearances at SXSW, Firefly Festival, the Advanced Placement tour, and opening for PVRIS.
But then the coronavirus hit, bringing these plans to a halt and giving us the unique chance to get to know Eliza & The Delusionals’ music more intimately, in the comfort of our own home, where we can equally scream, cry, and figure out what living in an objective reality really means.
It’s rock, it’s fun, but A State of Living in an Objective Reality also begs for reflection, and there’s ample time to reflect upon it now.
Atwood Magazine spoke to Eliza Klatt, Eliza & The Delusionals’ frontwoman, when the band was in LA between tours (and before COVID-19 forced all plans to be postponed) to talk about the band’s exciting moment, their new EP, and what it means to feel it all and turn it into music.
A State of Living in an Objective Reality – Eliza & The Delusionals
A CONVERSATION WITH ELIZA & THE DELUSIONALS
Atwood Magazine: Hi Eliza!
Eliza Klatt: Hi!
The year has just started, but I feel like it’s already been a whirlwind for you. Last year, with the success of “Just Exist” and now so many tours coming up, so many exciting things, and the EP. How are you all doing and taking everything in?
Eliza Klatt: Yeah, it’s been pretty crazy. Especially now that we’re finally over here doing the tour, because it was a lot in the lead up to it. We’re just super excited and happy to be here doing it. It’s so much fun.
And coming all the way from Australia, there must be a lot of difference between playing in your home country to people and then flying halfway across the world. Does it boggle your mind a little bit to know that you’re that far away from home and still playing to such a receptive audience?
Eliza Klatt: It’s very, very different. Especially how people have been like reacting to our sets and our music. We’re lucky enough to have the support from radio over here, so a lot of people already knew our songs before we even got a chance to like come to the States. So that has been really, really awesome. And it’s just like a whole different vibe compared to home for us. So yeah, really love it here. It’s been a dream come true.
How was the Silversun Pickups tour?
Eliza Klatt: It was amazing. They’re literally the nicest people ever. Theyre really, really kind and were super friendly to us. They became like family and it was really nice to them to share their stage with us, and their audience is super, super responsive and friendly as well. We met a lot of people after shows and it was just really cool. So yeah, we loved it.
And with so much time on the road, what do you do to not go crazy?
Eliza Klatt: I think the main part about like touring or doing anything really is being surrounded by good people, people that you’re friends withm that you get along with, and people that are really positive. So I think just the fact that we all get along really well and everyone is just really great together, that is enough for us to not go insane. I think because we’ve worked so hard for so many years to try and get to this point, we’re just giving it everything we have.
I read that a Coldplay show was what made you want to become a musician, right?
Eliza Klatt: Yes, that’s correct.
What was it about that show? How did it make you feel so that you made such an important choice then
Eliza Klatt: I was really young when i went, I was like 11 years old. So I knew that I’d always wanted to do something creative or I just loved music in general. But I think a lot of people will tell you like, ‘Oh, it’s like really hard to get into that, you know’, because it is. But after I went and saw that concert, it was the first time I’d ever been to a concert so I didn’t even know what to expect, really, and because they were like, my favorite band it was just really eye-opening to see that that’s what it is, and that’s how it works, and that can be a thing, you know? So it was just a really, crazy moment. And I feel like I still feel like that when I go and see concerts now, I’m just always wanting to do more than what I’m doing now.
Watch: “Just Exist” – Eliza & The Delusionals
Had you ever dabbled with the idea of having music as a career?
Eliza Klatt: Yeah, well, when I was a kid in – I guess we call it primary school. When I was eight or 10 I was getting like vocal lessons, because I loved listening to The Veronicas and Avril Lavigne and I liked the idea of singing. And then in primary school, my friend was like, ‘Oh, come and join like the school band’ because there was a new music teacher that had just started, and she’s like, ‘Come and learn the bass’. And I thought that the bass was like a double bass sort of thing. And then my mom bought an electric bass for my birthday and I was like, ‘That’s a really weird looking guitar’, like I didn’t understand what it was. So yeah, I started like, I didn’t really touch it for a little bit because it was like, kind of intimidating, and the music teacher was like, kind of an asshole so I was interested in the singing and stuff. But then when I went and saw that band, I was like, ‘Actually, that’s really, really cool’ and I just sort of learned so I could write music. I never consider myself like a guitarist, or anything like that, I just wanted to be able to write, you know, I mean?
How further into your musical journey were you when you wrote your first song? Could you already imagine what a career in music looked like?
Eliza Klatt: I feel like only recently I actually really got to see what a true career in music looks like, pretty much since we came over to the States, which is really interesting. But I think like I’ve always had the vision of it and what what it’s going to be, and I’ve always visualised myself on those stages, when I’m going to see bands or seeing bands or open for other bands, like ‘I wish I was doing that sort of thing’. And yeah, I’ve always had this sort of weird thing where I just get frustrated with myself if I’m not doing that. So when I first started writing, I guess I wrote my first song when I was 12 and it was probably awful, I can’t really remember. But just through high school, actually taking music as a subject and stuff and just getting more like comfortable with playing guitar and showing people what I was doing and that sort of thing. I think I never wrote anything I was proud of until I started this band, or that I thought was worthy of showing everyone online and things like that. But it’s a really interesting thing, starting off, you gotta just know, when it’s right, I think.
I know that now your songwriting process as a band is changing, but at the start it was a lot of you writing the songs and bringing it to your band members and then having something grow out of that. The songs you write are very personal and the lyrics are very cathartic. So when you were initially bringing these songs to these people, how did it feel to a have this extra layer of opening yourself to people who are going to help you bring your feelings and words to life?
Eliza Klatt: I think it definitely is weird because I first sort of started the band, you know, that’s why I called it Eliza and the Delusionals, because I thought that it would always just be me trying to back myself and that sort of thing, and just trying to do it myself. But it was really nice to meet everyone and reconnect with Kurt and stuff like that and have a band that where we can do it all together, which is really special. But I think it definitely has been a lot more like collaborative since like, probably since “Just Exist” the time when we recorded that. I guess at first it was a little bit uncomfortable because, it’s weird with songwriting because you’re literally just putting your deepest thoughts into something. And I used to have a really weird problem with trying to explain what things meant, or trying to explain it someone else, but I think after doing it for a little while and getting more used to it and just being more comfortable with everyone as people as well, it makes a huge difference.Now we’re doing like a lot collaborative writing with other people that aren’t actually in the band, so it’s kind of something you just have to get over and move forward with, which is hard to do for someone who is sort of a bit introverted, but it’s just something you have to do. It’s like, either do that or go and work a job you don’t want to work.
I know that Ruby and Tex and have a completely different a musical background to you and Kurt. Now that you’re collaborating more, what do their different backgrounds musically to either like your sound or your life show? How do you blend all the influences together?
Eliza Klatt: I think it kind of naturally happened, because when Tex first joined the band, getting to know him and his music taste, when he would have the aux cord in the car, it would be a lot of country pop songs and stuff. But then I remember, because I am really into Catfish and the Bottlemen and when the new album came out he really got into that album. So that kind of an introduction to that sort of music, which is cool. I feel like it’s an interesting thing when it’s coming with guitar parts and sounds. And Ruby came from a jazz background on bass which is really cool as well, it brings flavour in that part that was quite simple before. She has a nice ear for the bass parts and where things should go and stuff like that.
Okay, so now we’re going to talk about your new EP. First of all, congratulations, it is so fun to listen to, it’s so great, and I feel like everyone will fall in love with you guys even more.
Eliza Klatt: Thank you so much, that’s really kind.
I want to know, first of all, what happened with you and with the band, in your lives as a whole between your first EP and your second EP, that lead to this EP happening?
Eliza Klatt: A lot. We recorded the first EP, we started recording that in, I think, like 2016, so the songs were written at least that early. It was there for a while before we got ourselves together and got some money together to go and record something. But we went through like a really big lineup change, we had a change in management which was really really big for us, a lot of us were going through some changes in our personal lives, it was just like a really weird time. Everything was just happening at once, and it was just nice to go into the studio and feel like we could be fully ourselves creatively and just get the songs out the way we wanted them do. It was just really, really great, like we’re super proud of it. I often forget that the first EP is even a thing because I’m so invested in getting this one out and like getting people to listen to it. It’s like really cool. We’re all much happier with where the position the band is now compared to that.
When you got together to record it, did you agree on either a story or a message that you wanted to put out with the EP or did you just choose your favourite songs? I feel like there’s a thread about vulnerability and mental health in there.
Eliza Klatt: Well, those songs were kind of their own thing. They were kind of already grouped, I think because a lot of the lyrics I wrote at a really certain time in my life, so I kind of was like ‘These should be the songs’ and everyone was really happy with it, because we all liked the songs. So it kind of just happened like that. When we were actually putting it together at the end, Kurt and I were visiting New York a couple of months ago, last year, and the label was like, ‘Okay, we need the artwork, and the name, and everything now so we can get it going’ sort of thing. And I had taken a picture of the laundry room in the hotel that we were staying in, which looked cool, and Kurt made edit of it. He actually came up with the title as well, which I felt really like strung everything together. I think it’s definitely like a concept EP as well, there’s a thread running through it all, and it’s pretty much just about that sort of time period in my life. But yeah, it kind of fell into place, the artwork and stuff, everyone back home was like ‘Yeah, this is sick’, just super happy with how it all flowed, I guess.
Watch: “Pull-Apart Heart” – Eliza & The Delusionals
So let’s get into the title: A State of Living in an Objective Reality. What does it mean to you? Objective reality is something I feel like a lot of people joke about, when they say we’re living in a simulation. What is an objective reality?
Eliza Klatt: I think that’s pretty much the idea of it. I was just living in a period of my life where I didn’t have control over my own things and I was not in a good headspace, and it was just really hard to make decisions for myself. And that’s kind of like living in a simulation, in that objective reality of not being able to do your own thing or do it your own way. So that’s, that’s where the title came from.
And did writing these songs help you feel like you could take control over one area of your life and pour your heart into it? Did they help at all?
Eliza Klatt: Definitely. I think because I was able to get rid of all the things that were making me not able to do that for myself. I definitely live a better way now. But it was just a couple things in my life that I needed to stand up for myself and get rid of so I could live the way that I wanted to. And I think that’s why those songs sort of fit nicely together because it encapsulates that time and then I’m just moving on. I’ve been writing a lot since then, and it sort of strays away from that train of thought.
How does music help you cope with bad times or any mental health issues?
Eliza Klatt: I think that’s the only way I know how to deal with things like that. So I guess, it’s kind of a hard question to answer because I couldn’t imagine myself dealing with it in any other way. We often talk about it between ourselves. It’s kind of like your own personal therapy in a way, and your own way of being able to understand what’s happening in your life. If I couldn’t write lyrics and songs I don’t really know how I would have been able to cope with anything going on my life.
I read an interview with an artist the other day where they joked about getting into bad relationships only because it gave them material to write songs. Do you ever find yourself subconsciously making any decisions in your life that you know will help fuel your songwriting?
Eliza Klatt: I know what you mean. I feel like I haven’t deliberately put myself into situations like that, but I think it’s just the angle that you look at things.Because that sort of thing happens to people every single day, but I guess that’s the difference between someone that has a creative brain and someone that has a little bit more like a normal brain I guess. It’s the angle that you think of things and how you choose to absorb whatever is happening and deal with it.
The chorus of “Just Exist” would not be half as powerful as it is if you weren’t vocally giving it your all and being able to transmit catharsis and energy and so much heart with your voice. When you’re in the studio and you have to record this, and you’ve written this song some time ago and are so used to it that you’re not necessarily feeling the way you were when you wrote the song, how do you get into the headspace to channel all the emotion and make sure your vocal delivery will be at the point where you’ll be able to make your heart come through?
Eliza Klatt: That’s a really good question, because I definitely think that even with writing, if you’re starting a song and then you pick it back up you kind of have to be thinking about the same thing or having a similar emotion. But I think because you’re sitting there, thinking about the song all day, vocals are the last thing you do, so you’re sitting there, you’re thinking, you’re listening, you’re really, really in the mood of that. So that’s just kind of how it comes out. And I guess thinking about when I was writing that and that sort of thing. But I think it’s hard not to be in the zone of what you’ve been working on if you’ve been doing the one song all day and it’s all you’ve been thinking about, you’ll be in the mood of it by the time you get around to vocals.
Watch: “Swimming Pool”- Eliza & The Delusionals
My favourite song in the EP is “Swimming Pool” because I love the whole imagery of diving into something and being so vulnerable and completely immersing yourself in it, whatever it is, with all its pros and cons. Can you tell me more about the song?
Eliza Klatt: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s probably one of our favorites as well as a group. I wrote that about feeling kind of stuck just because it’s easier and you’re comfortable with what you know, so you just keep doing it over and over again, but then you break the cycle. It’s kind of about that. And it’s a really fun song to play, I like how it’s happy sounding but the lyrics are kind of sad. Musically it’s really fun and high energy, but lyrically, it’s kind of more about being stuck in those cycles and diving back into those bad decisions. So it’s kind of like a contrast, which I think is really cool.
You end the EP with “Feel it All (and Nothing)”. If you had the option of feeling everything or feeling nothing, what would you choose?
Eliza Klatt: I would say feeling everything.
And what is the ideal situation in which to listen to your music?
Eliza Klatt: I’m not sure. I think it definitely depends on what mood you’re in, it’s how you’re going to take away lyrics and ideas from it. You know if you’re in a really sad mood and you listen to a song and you kind of like pick apart little bits of it, and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, that’s me’. But then you’re in a really excited or happy mood, and you listen to something and you’re kind of focusing on other parts of the song. So I’m not sure, any situation is fine as long as you are enjoying it.
Last question: What’s the last great thing you listened to?
Eliza Klatt: I’ve been listening to so much because we’ve been doing so much driving. I actually recently really got into a band called Chairlift. I think they’re from New York. She just has a really, really good voice and she uses her voice really rhythmically as well, which is really different and cool. I’d recommend.
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