If you’re feeling a little lost today then perhaps eli. can bring some structure and definition to your day. eli. has recently released his excellent debut record, undefined., an album that stays true to its title over the course of an eye-popping eighteen tracks. The record is both raw and introspective in terms of songwriting but thrives on its sonic diversity that plays out through each track. There’s something for everyone on undefined., from love songs to hard rocking tunes, to light-hearted indie-pop… It’s hard to get bored with so much distinction.

A master of his craft, eli. wrote, recorded and produced every bit of sound you hear on undefined., all within his basement studio. If anything, the album demonstrates eli.’s versatility as an artist, unafraid to go where others may hesitate to venture and intent on living a genre-less lifestyle within his musical career. It’s only been three years since eli. began to emerge but in that time he has already established a dedicated group of fans, at least in part thanks to his hit single “i’m sad” which has received over 17 million plays on Spotify. He has a special way of connecting with listeners, thanks in part to his vulnerable storytelling and honesty about his feelings and the issues on his mind.

With an extremely solid debut album in undefined., we caught up with eli. to gain further insight into the songwriting process with a special track-by-track commentary of every one of his new tracks.

1. “everything will be okay”

“This is my personal favourite song on the album, and also the most personal track. I touch on my thoughts on religion as well as growing up in a religious household in the Midwest. It can be difficult for young people to understand what to believe, and I think they should know that they don’t have to have all the answers, even if their parents say they should.”

2. “easy”

“I wrote and produced this song in mid-2018 before I even released my first album, and now I’ve just released album four. I had tried to record it a few times across time, but I could never seem to get it right. The verse vocals were lower and in a bit of an uncomfortable spot for my range. Eventually, I got a solid recording though and it came together quite well. It ended up being one of my favourites.”

3. “make it”

“I love this song. I have a lot of confidence in this song. It’s disappointing to me that it wasn’t received very well, because I really thought I had something special here with the way that I flow between and combine multiple styles. It is a serious challenge for me in doing my music the way I do with multiple genres… The reason being that I may make a song outside of what is considered my ‘popular niche’ and it doesn’t perform as well as I think it could all because I don’t have a single niche. Maybe it’s too ‘poppy’ or upbeat, but I’ll probably beat myself up over this song for a long time. It’s a special song to me.”

4. “wanted”

“This one is unique in the way it combines genres. It pretty much weaves in and out of being an alternative pop/rock song and ending as a punk-rock song. You can see so many different genre influences on this one from pop, rock, house, jazz, emo, hardcore… I’ve never been able to make something like this that separately contains so many different genres in the same song while simultaneously sounding cohesive.”

5. “iHATEYOU”

“It was really important to me to have a track like this higher up on the track list. For past albums, I have put ‘weirder’ songs closer to the bottom. I wanted something like this front and center. It kind of throws you off, to a certain extent, but it also leads in pretty well from the ending of wanted. Lyrically, this song is about not feeling like you are reaching your potential. This is a song I wrote to myself because I feel like I let myself down all of the time.”

6. “wishful thinking”

“I think this is perhaps the most well-written song on this project. It pulls from my West Virginia roots and my singer-songwriter roots, while incorporating banjo instrumentation and some other ‘country’ sounds with the brush drums. This song, like many on the album, had me experimenting and extending in new directions.”

Artwork for ‘undefined.’ by eli.

7. “mia”

“Here’s one that I feel like is very clearly influenced by John Mayer. It started as an ode to his song ‘Rosie,’ but then when I came up with the chorus lyrics, ‘mia, mia – MY, OH MY!’ for the chorus, I really thought I had something unique and cute. I love the groove and the overall vibe for this track. You don’t have to think too hard, but it still has some really interesting instrumentation.”

8. “high all the time”

“I’ve experimented with weed maybe a dozen times at this point in my life. Most times, I don’t feel anything but when I do feel something, it is never good. I wrote this song after a horrible weed experience I had with the drug after my first live show in Los Angeles. I feel like I gave it a fair shot by this point, and I know it’s just not for me. I can’t tell why people like it, but I guess everyone has a different reaction to it!”

9. “someday, maybe”

“I can be very optimistic in my writing, but the optimism is often shrouded in cynicism to the point that it even becomes comedic. This song is saying that I’ve never been enough for a certain person, but maybe that will all magically change someday!”

10. “catharsis”

“This was one of the first songs I wrote for this album. I had all of the instrumentation recorded and produced and just sat on coming up with the lyrics for a good while. I knew I wanted it to be angry and make some sort of point. I feel like I accomplished that pretty well, and it ended up being about what the title of the album came to be. I don’t want to feel boxed in and I don’t take orders from music consumers, even if they are my supportive fans. I’m not making music as a business first; I’m creating art that is honest to me.”

11. “live for nothing”

“Questioning existence is a regular part of my day. Sometimes, it completely dominates the day. This song is a reflection of that. I don’t want to live for no reason. Isn’t that a terrifying thought? To think that we merely exist to exist. I guess it depends on your perspective, because some people actually find comfort in that exact thought.”

12. “tease”

“tease is a very playful song. I got to experiment more with some lead guitar, and I love the big horn sound at the chorus. This is one of my personal favourites because it’s very jazzy and soulful. There is something about some crisp horn and string sounds that I adore.”

13. “i’m fine”

“We all have breakups and there is no shortage of breakup songs on the market. I’m fine is just a breakup song and about trying to feel fine afterwards. This song was a chance for me to experiment with indie rock and it was a lot of fun to produce and write. The drum programming was especially difficult!”

14. “nothing really matters anymore”

“Sometimes in life, we finally reach our goals and it’s not what we thought it would be. Or perhaps, we meet the goal and it is great for a moment, but then what? I think fulfillment is granted to us in the pursuit of goals rather than the literal attainment of them. We just need something to do.”

15. “i could be better”

“I became really inspired by Mr. Rogers and his legacy this past year. I have been listening to a lot of his music too, so it is inevitable that his influence becomes apparent in my work. This isn’t necessarily a song aimed at younger children like much of his music is, but it is my take on what it might be like if I wrote a song influenced by his general message. I wanted to write to people like me who know they procrastinate and sometimes do things with their time that aren’t very useful. I could be better and perhaps, we all could be better.”

16. “wine and betrayal”

“In writing this song, I knew I wanted the only elements in the track to be guitar and my voice. I wanted the intensity to build only based on my emotion that you could feel through my voice and the more aggressive guitar playing. It’s a really emotional song and I wanted you to feel that.”

17. “so unusual”

“Sometimes, we lose the will to live but have to find things to live for anyway. I think life can be deeply troubling and I empathize with someone who feels suicidal. I also think it is tremendously arrogant and a misunderstanding of the human experience to believe that suicide is a selfish act. Perhaps, we should look to the simpler things for hope. Small things matter much more than we realize.”

18. “you changed my mind”

“Finding love again after being hurt can be difficult. Maybe you have reservations about trusting someone new based on the previous experience or maybe you really just aren’t even looking for love anymore. Someone changed my mind.”

Publisher, CEO, and Co-Founder - Born in 2003, V13 was a socio-political website that, in 2005, morphed into PureGrainAudio and spent 15 years developing into one of Canada (and the world’s) leading music sites. On the eve the site’s 15th anniversary, a full re-launch and rebrand takes us back to our roots and opens the door to a full suite of Music, Film, TV, and Cultural content.