Article/Interview By: Lisa Occhino
January 24 was a very special day for rising pop-opera artist Elizaveta. Not only did she kick off her mini-tour in Boston at Berklee’s Café 939, but her first album under Universal Republic Records, Beatrix Runs, also dropped the same day. It debuted at #24 on iTunes and climbed to #16.
“I call it musical alchemy,” Elizaveta tells The Groove during an interview in the Red Room at Café 939 just before her concert. “I take different elements and throw them in the pot and see what comes out.” The way she mixes opera together with pop, piano hooks, and electronic beats creates a truly unique and fresh sound that is so pleasing – and I would even argue necessary – to hear in a world where nearly everything on the radio sounds painfully similar in its blandness. She still considers herself a pop-oriented songwriter, though, because to her, “a pop song is just something that translates to a lot of people.”
Born in New York and raised in Russia, Elizaveta was classically trained on voice and piano. She grew up listening to classical music, but once she reached the age of ten, she started listening to a lot of Queen, Elton John, and Nina Simone. “As far as influences go, it’s a very mixed bag,” she explains. “I tend to gravitate towards classics, but there’s a lot of amazing music out there today, too.”
With a degree in opera from USC and two successful independent EP releases under her belt, Elizaveta got to work on her major label debut with the help of multi-Grammy award winner and producer Greg Wells (Adele, Katy Perry, Elton John). “[Greg and I] both like similar music,” Elizaveta says. “I love electronica and I’m classically trained, so we tried to see how organically we could incorporate all that.” Together, Greg and Elizaveta were able to hone her pop-opera vision and style, and the resulting record is nothing short of compelling, thoughtful, and beautiful.
“It’s very important to find who you really are,” Elizaveta advises aspiring performers. “Find your authentic sweet spot, and then nurture and develop that. In today’s world, it’s more than ever important to be original, because there’s so much information and there’s so much content that people tend to kind of zone out and dismiss things. I think it’s important to find somewhere where you are unique, but the thing is you can’t really fake it. I don’t think there’s a shortcut to it. You have to be the best at being yourself.”
Elizaveta is a perfect example of a true artist who’s found her “sweet spot.” Her pure voice is as pitch-perfect live as it is on her record. Her meaningful, heartfelt lyrics combined with effortless high notes and incredible vocal control will send chills down your spine. Her songwriting style allows her technical training to really shine through, which supports her melodies in a way that most other artists couldn’t execute. Even though her Café 939 performance only consisted of a bass player to accompany her singing and piano playing, the two of them still managed to fill up the room with catchy melodies and piano hooks that get stuck in your head.
Before she sang one of my favorite songs of hers, “Orion,” she explained that she wrote it for a friend who was diagnosed with a progressive incurable disease. When she performed it live, it took on a whole new meaning and really moved me emotionally. Her last song of the night, “Odi Et Amo,” was another quite impassioned performance with its full-on operatic chorus. “People who like ‘Odi Et Amo’ – which is the most dramatic one on the record as far as the opera part goes – are not the same people who would normally listen to classical music or go to the opera,” Elizaveta explains. “I’ve had 14- and 15-year-old kids tell me they really love that song. The way I use [opera] in this record is more like an emotional texture. In an aria, you have the vocal style throughout the whole song, but I kind of go in and out of it. I also do my own vocal arrangements, so I find ways to embroider it in my own way.”
Although Elizaveta has only just embarked on the journey of her mainstream music career, I can guarantee that she’s an artist you’re going to want to keep your eye on. If you’re looking for talent and originality in the music industry that cuts through the clutter, be sure to check out Beatrix Runs, exclusively on iTunes.