By: Jordyn Meade-Baxter
Born and raised in Ontario, Elissa Mielke (Mieke) has been making music since she was 14. Also in her long list of talents and careers, she is a model and an actress. Much of her inspiration comes on her many travels around as she digs deep into her own experiences. She will be releasing her debut EP on August 28. Want to learn more about Elissa? Check out the interview below.
Would you say out of your three careers, that music has always been your main focus or end goal?
Music has always been part of me- like eating, or breathing, or loving other humans. It’s not a focus or a goal necessarily, just an extension of myself. I wake up with songs in my head, sing harmonies to sounds I hear, can’t function if I don’t sing for a day. So music is necessary. It’s one of the ways I express myself or exist, but not the only way I do that. I feel like (and hope that) we’re moving past a time where there are these distinct divisions between “careers” or creative pursuits- or where a person’s career defines who they are so completely. I love performing so I’d rather just think of the ways I express myself creatively (acting, modeling, singing, writing), as different expressions of creativity and performance. The lines are blurred because I am myself when doing all of them and they all influence each other.
When did you realize this is what you wanted to do?
I was a fetus I think. I do remember one time singing in a 200 person kids choir once accompanying a live Opera. The song ended but I kept singing and they were like “Okay the song is done, please stop oh dear” and I was like “no way this feels too good.”
You’ve said this EP is raw, vulnerable and free. Can you explain what makes it so?
It’s raw because I mean all the words in it, vulnerable because that makes me unsafe as you hear it, free because I have nothing left to hide or prove. I write songs just to cope with pain or to work through crushing insecurities or indescribable joy I experience in my life. I think it’s a bit subversive to talk about pain or feeling lame in a culture where we all try to be okay and look cool. So it’s not very safe to do that. But it’s freeing because for the first time, I trust myself fully. I can make something I like and I’m okay with people not liking it. If I am out here being honest, what do I have to fear? If someone doesn’t connect with it, that is so normal and okay and not personal. Creating something fake or marketable and putting my own name on it- that would be terrifying because I’d lose a little piece of my freedom. I really value vulnerability and honesty.
What is it about your travels that makes it easier for you to write or brings you inspiration to write?
When you travel the objects and places and people you use to define yourself are stripped away. You just have air, food, fear, a new place that smells unfamiliar. And there you are- without all of the makeup or safeties. You can put on what you want, sing what you want. It’s also scary but that’s what frees you. New cultures also remind you how your own culture defines how you write or talk or dress and how silly some of that is. You realize that when people laugh at you they are mostly afraid of what’s different. When you can let go of that ego and look stupid by not knowing where the subway is or what’s cool to wear, you’re free. Anything can happen.
What can you tell us about your EP?
I always liked my songs better live and could never record them without losing the clarity or feeling I had when I wrote them. So I’m really grateful for Don Kerr (Ron Sexsmith, Bahamas) because he encouraged me to trust my instincts and allowed me to be free that way. I guess the EP is essentially me telling you about my life as if I was whispering it in your ear so other people can’t hear. There are a lot of visuals- stuff like growing up in a small town, sitting in my first house alone hearing bass through the floorboards, being tricked by a man, grappling with a religious influence that made me feel like I could never be good or worthy, finding a sense of joy in all of that. It’s just a little glimpse of my story so that hopefully you will listen to the next part of it when I figure out how to tell you.
After the album is released, do you see yourself doing any touring?
Yup! I’m pretty broke from self-funding all this music stuff but soon as I can I will be all over the place. I’ll be in NY, LA, and London for work in this coming year so I’d love to play shows wherever I can! Please ask me to play all the shows. Thank you. Haha.
Which of your inspirations do you feel is the most prominent in your music? How is it shown?
My dad used to sing all the time when we were little; he would harmonize with lawnmowers or sirens we passed while driving. He would also make up songs about things around the house. I think that opened my mind to writing in a really gentle way. I also sang with a big group of people every week- and harmonies really affect how I write and sing.
What’s next for you?
I don’t know! That’s the fun thing about life. I have 50 songs or so that I like right now and I am trying to edit some and weave together a self-produced album that I love, and then find someone to make it really magic and big. I just played a show with a band for the first time and now I’m screwed because it made everything so much better. So I need a band. Want to be in my band? I’m travelling a lot this year so I’m excited to tour, cowrite, go to shows, those sorts of things.
As a Canadian Beats tradition, we like to throw in some fun questions at the end, so the fans can get to know you a little better. Here we go:
What is one thing you always have to take with you when you’re travelling?
The book “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran! Also these soft blue slippers my Omi knitted for me. Also a fresh orange to eat so I feel less like a gross gremlin getting off the plane.
What lyrics of yours are you most proud to say you have written?
I like singing the opening line of Vulture “he likes my dress, I’m not wearing it for him,” and later on “he likes my legs as if I dance for him.” One time I left my house to meet my friends wearing a dress one of them designed. I had just written a song and felt worthy and strong and powerful in my body. And then I saw this person that always made me feel empty and he complimented what I was wearing in this loaded male gaze-y way and that’s all I wanted him to know- that this one time, it wasn’t for him. It was for me. And for the women I was meeting. He couldn’t take that from me. I wanted to keep that for myself.
Is there anything you would like to add for your fans?
Hi! You exist? Cool! J
I’m an aspiring entertainment journalist from Fredericton, New Brunswick, and a 2017 graduate from St. Thomas University with majors in Journalism and Psychology.
Aside from psychology, my passion has always been for music and storytelling. It is my dream to be in the industry, and music journalism seems to be the perfect fit. Along with a bit of photography dabbling, I think I’m pretty well on on my way.
When I’m not working, I’m listening to music, finding new artists to love, playing Dungeons and Dragons, or playing with my cats.