SONG PREMIERE/INTERVIEW: Elayna Turns Restlessness Into Smoky Soul On “Feel This Way”

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There’s a good chance you’ve heard Elayna Boynton and you don’t even know it. The Los Angeles-based singer scored something of a hit with “Freedom”, her Western-tinged soul collaboration with Anthony Hamilton that was used on the soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 film Django Unchained. Luckily, that is far from the last time we will hear from Elayna Boynton, who usually goes only by her first name. The last few years have been busy for the singer as she has worked to write and record her self-titled debut EP, which comes out September 16th. 

The six-song EP (including one acoustic bonus track) finds Elayna teaming up with another talented singer-songwriter, Patrick Park, who co-wrote, produced, and played guitar on the album. Coming front and center is Elayna’s voice, one that beautifully balances vulnerability with soulful power and confidence. Though she grew up in California, the singer channels her deep love of soul, blues, gospel, and country into her sound, giving her vocals and delivery a sultry retro feel. Elayna is a natural talent and it’s easy to listen to the songs on her album and picture her dazzling an audience of admirers in a darkened nightclub.

Today we are excited to premiere one of the tracks that captures all of that, “Feel This Way”, right here at Glide Magazine. From the moment you hear Elayna open the song singing “Lord have mercy on me…” with her stunning, smoky vocals, you immediately feel like the singer is confessing some sort of deep dark secret to you and only you. By the time she brings her voice up with the chorus, Elayna has already made an impression, one that is musically heightened by the addition of background singers and an ominous yet funky guitar line.

Speaking on the creative inspiration behind the song, Elayna says, “‘Feel This Way’ stems from seasons in my life when I am not content with my situation, but I’m not in a place to push for that situation to change. For me, taking the step to acknowledge that discontent and wrestle with it in some ways is helpful, because in time, that restlessness won’t allow me to settle for where I am.”

LISTEN to Elayna’s “Feel This Way” and read our conversation with her below:

Do you have a specific memory of when you decided you wanted to sing and make music?

There were a few times as a kid when I really felt drawn to music. One particular time was when I was in elementary school and was in school plays. I typically was in the chorus, or was a tree in the background, or something like that. But I loved it! I remember thinking how incredible it would be to be able to sing and act all the time. I can’t say at that time I thought either of those were a real option for me, but I just absolutely adored being part of music and art.

Are there any particular singers you have always looked up to? 

The kinds of music I’ve gravitated toward has changed over the years.I grew up listening to a lot of gospel music, so CeCe Winans is someone whose voice I’ve always loved. As I got older I began to listen to country music and became a huge fan of the Dixie Chicks. In retrospect, the combination of gospel and country music had a great impact on how I sing.

You’ve done songs for film and TV for a handful of years now, but you are only now releasing your debut EP. Was there a specific set of circumstances that made you wait until now?

In a nutshell: the songs. Over the past few years I wrote and recorded quite a few songs, but ultimately I wanted to challenge myself with songwriting and make sure the songs I released came from a place of depth and honest perspective. With this debut EP I feel as though I have been able to do that in a way that I am able to be authentic as well as have music that I think those who are fans of “Freedom” (from Django) will enjoy. A lot of that came together with these songs and it felt right.

Patrick Park is your collaborator for this album and he also co-wrote the songs with you. How did you meet and at what point did you realize you had a musical chemistry?

I had been asked to sing “To Love Somebody” for a Bee Gees tribute record, and Patrick was called in to play guitar for the band. I had an idea to do an additional kind of alt-stripped-down-folk version of the song, and Patrick totally got where I was coming from. So we worked on that version, and I knew then that we had some good creative energy between us. When that recording session was over he asked if I’d like to meet up and write sometime and that’s how we got started.

Is there a central theme or thread that connects the songs on your EP?

Keep going, keep trying, stick to what you know is best even when that brings frustration. Sometimes I feel like “trying” doesn’t get as much attention as achievement, which, achieving something is obviously wonderful and incredibly important. But for most of us, we don’t just wake up and realize we have effortlessly arrived where we wanted to, or become who we’ve wanted to be. What often leads up to getting what you want, is having tried over and over and over again. And even when you are committed to that journey, you’re still dealing with doubt, fear of failure, opinions of people – it’s easy to get derailed. So, the heart of this EP speaks to that place in life where you have decided to try, continue trying, or even when you are just beginning to consider trying for something.

Will you be touring in support of this release, and if so, what kind of band lineup will you have? 

I do have some shows coming up, some will be more of an acoustic, stripped down set and others will be with a full band. My next full band show will be September 14 at Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, which I’m excited about!

Elayna releases her self-titled debut EP on September 16. For more music and info visit 
elaynamusic.com
.

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