Photo courtesy of Right Angle PR
Allow us to introduce you to rising pop star Isac Elliot, who hails all the way from Finland. Elliot released his new EP A Little More on July 8, two years after the release of his second album Follow Me. We talked to Elliot last week about his rise to stardom in his home country, what’s it’s like working with some of the hottest stars in music as a teenager and much more:
TYF: Hi Isac! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions.
Isac Elliot: Thank you for having me!
TYF: I read from a previous interview that before you were signed, you were in choir. Was music always in your blood growing up or did someone (or something) inspire you to try your hand at making music?
IE: Music has always been in our family. My dad used to be in a band and when I was five, I already knew what a soundcheck was or what “tuning a guitar” meant. There has always been music playing in our house, instruments and concert videos, vinyls and CDs. I got my first album when I was six. It was My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade. I listened to it 24/7. My dad took me to see their show in Helsinki and I remember asking my dad to talk to the girls sitting next to him as they were crying when the band walked out on stage. I thought there was something wrong. But dad just said that they were crying because they were so happy and excited to see the band. I often think of that when I see girls crying at my shows.
When I was in first grade, my music teacher told my parents that she thought I should apply for this boy choir in Helsinki, I did and I got it. I sang there for some years and learned a lot about how to use my voice. From there I was picked to do musicals at the national theater, and that is when I really started getting into performing and singing front of an audience. The last musical I took part in was put up by Björn [Ulvaeus] and Benny [Andersson] from ABBA, and working with them again taught me a lot. So you can say I have been really lucky getting to work with a lot of talented people at an early age.
When I was 11, I asked and asked my dad to show me how to write a song and one Christmas vacation, he showed me three chords on the guitar and we made a melody and lyrics to it. It became a song called “My Favorite Girl” that just last month went gold here in Scandinavia. We recorded it at a friends home studio, and from that one I got signed and had my first single out when I was 12.
TYF: It must be difficult reaching out to your fans in the U.S. and traveling back and forth! What was your reaction knowing that your music is creating a buzz not only in Scandinavia but in the U.S.?
IE: When you live in Finland, Europe, you still listen to a lot of music that comes from the U.S.. A lot of your idols are from over there and you look up to them, they inspire you and influence you. Then you get to go over to the U.S. for your first video shoot, then your first recording session with U.S. producers and songwriters, they you do your first interview, TV performance and live show. To me, [it] all has come naturally step by step and I feel lucky. Still I have a lot of my fans over here and I will never forget about them and their support so I will always go back and forth. But that is just a happy problem.
It feels weird and amazing to do a show in say Georgia, Daytona or L.A. and see girls singing along to your songs, see how excited they are and take pictures with them, and you are SO far away from home. But the way my music has spread is all thanks to internet and more importantly the fans. It is not me, not my table or anybody else spreading it. It is the fans. They talk about it, send it to their friends who talk about it in school and so on. I really have my amazing fans to thank for everything.
I try to give back as much as possible and the best way of doing that is by being active on social media. It does not matter if you are from Australia, Korea, Finland, Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Brazil or the U.S.. I can talk to everybody. So I don’t really feel it is a challenge to reach out to my fans even though I might be far away. Of it is not as easy to do signing events, meet&greets etc in the US as over here but we throw Skype get-togethers, chats, Q&As and stuff so I think it works really well.
Also, interviews and stuff are so easy to do over the phone or via e-mail so it really is no problem to stay active all over the world these days. Also I love traveling and you just have to get in the midst of “OK, this is a travel day, it is just ONE day. Then I am good to go again” and that is how you manage to go back and forth almost every month.
TYF: For those of us who haven’t been to Finland, what is their music scene like? How fast did your music take off and create a buzz there?
IE: The music scene here is doing really well. We have a lot of amazing artists who are doing extremely well and we have great songwriters and producers who are now starting to make noise and come up. The music that people listen to in Finland might be a bit interesting for some people. The Spotify Top 50 list is mainly Finnish songs sung in Finnish and about drinking, partying or about bedroom stuff .
A lot of music with a humorist approach. If you want to make it over here it is easier to go with singing in Finnish. The audience and the media supports it more. It is a bit sad cause that means we don’t have a lot of artist who are making it abroad. It is not that there is not talent in Finland, but more about the history and the industry and how to export music. I am happy that I stuck with doing music in English. I put out my first single “New Way Home” when I was 12 and it went straight to number one. So all happened quite fast. It is now triple platinum.
We thought that we would be lucky if it would work in Finland and if we would get a few radio spins. It became a hit all over Scandinavia and the Baltics so right now everything just feels as a bonus.
TYF: When was the moment where you realized you were gaining some sort of fanbase A.K.A. Ellioteers? Do you have any “crazy” fan stories yet?
IE: The fanbase grew really fast. After we put out the first single “New Way Home”, we had to change studios and keep it secret while we recorded the rest of the album. I put out one picture on Instagram and there was a gold record plaque in the background. Someone zoomed in on the pic, checked the artist on the gold record, where the record was recorded and that is how they found the studio. It was high up on the 6th floor and someone tried to get from one window out in the stairway to a window in the studio on the outside of the house.
We quickly had to change our address and phone numbers to secret ones as we had a lot of fans turning up outside our house. They still do and I don’t mind a at all. I love meeting my fans and supporters but I have a family and a sister and sometimes you need the privacy. [I have] gotten a fridge as a fan gift once. Girls have climbed up on the outside of the hotel. Someone hopped on to a car that I was in and stood on the back spoiler of the car. The have sneaked in at airports through the “back way” where people walk out. I think it is a lot of fun as long as they don’t get hurt. We always have a laugh together when they tell me or when I hear the stories. I love ’em with all my heart.
TYF: Huge congrats on your recent EP. I’ve had it on repeat this whole weekend. This was two years in the making since your sophomore album. What was it like putting this EP together compared to your last two albums?
IE: Thank you. I am super happy for the [people it has reached]. The fans have loved it and really taken it to heart. That is the most important thing and that is what really matters. But also the press has given it a lot of good feedback and that is not a given for a teen artist. So that feels really nice. It has been over two years since my last album and it is such a long time for the fans to wait. People nowadays have their music on their phones, they listen to music all the time and a song can be considered old after two or three months, especially amongst the teens. So I have personally really pushed for this release. But I am only 15 and there are grown ups, labels and managements involved so I can’t decide everything on my own.
Also I want to give the best possible to all my fans. They have supported me unconditionally and I want them to have nothing but the best. So we had a lot of songs already made, then this one song came up and kind of set the bar. We knew that this was the level all songs had to be on so we started from scratch. But I am glad we got this out now and it is a nice little appetizer before the actual album. The fans have really loved it and I can see new people are catching on every day, so I can’t wait to have the whole album out ’cause we saved quite a few pearls for that one. To record now has been amazing.
I have been a part of the writing process on almost every song and the lyrics are really about how I feel and things I have gone through. So it is a more personal one compared to the previous releases. Also I am now through my “voice change” [puberty] so it was really nice to sing when you could use and control your voice as you pleased. I have also gotten to sing in new ways and with new techniques and the producers have really helped me there.
TYF: Why did you choose “What About Me” to be the first single off this EP?
IE: I have had a lot of uptempo songs with a lot of production. This time we wanted to try something different, something more personal where my voice, the lyrics and the story is in the spotlight. It is also a true story. Something I wanted to get out there. We put it out quite fast after we wrote and recorded it as I got the opportunity to perform at the Today Show. So we haven’t really gotten into working the single yet as it now is summer holidays but the push around the song will come in the Fall and I am very excited to see how it will go. Just yesterday we saw that it is becoming quite a hit on Musical.ly with a lot of big profiles doing own musical.ly videos to the song. It is so weird and SO amazing seeing people from all over the world miming to the song. I have been stuck to my phone for two days now just checking them out.
TYF: Is there a specific meaning for the title ‘A Little More’?
IE: Well, basically it is “a little more” music from me to all of my fans but REALLY it has a twist. You all will get it once the album drops!
TYF: You’ve been in the studio with some crazy big names who have worked with huge stars. How has it been in the studio? Do you get a lot of input into how a song will sound or if you want to switch some lyrics around?
IE: I have been very lucky to get to work with all these amazing people. The first producers that was not from Finland and that had crazy big hits was RedOne. I was so nervous but it was such a nice experience and it turned out great. The song is called “Baby I.” After that I have not been very nervous at all. They are all so professional but at the same time relaxed, down to earth and humble. We have a lot of fun in the studio, goof around and just spend great days together. They ask for my opinions all the time and they never shoot down what I have to say. They always tell me, “This is your song. You are a teen and you know what it should be like” and so on.
Of course, not all of my ideas end up being great ones ;) I have learned more than I even can explain about recording, songwriting and singing these past two years. They have been able to push my performance as well. I really enjoy working with any producer or songwriter as long as we have a good time and get good results. It does not have to be a producer or a songwriter with a lot of hits under his/her belt. Good vibes and good songs can pop up anywhere.
TYF: You recently came off your mini tour. How was that experience? Are there any other future tours in the works?
IE: I love being on tour and doing shows. That is where I get to meet my fans, see the emotion, feel the energy, connect with the crowd, hang out with my good friends who are my dancers, see amazing places. That really is the best part of all this. Once we have the whole album out we will go on a bigger tour again and I really can’t wait.
Isac Elliot’s new EP, A Little More, is available for purchase on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon, and is available for streaming on Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music and other services.