In an exclusive interview Elijah Blake shares his inspirations behind Holiday Love, what his next album Medusa will sound like and more.
Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter-producer Elijah Blake has been cutting his teeth in the music industry since the late ’00s. His artistry has allowed him to contribute to songwriting on behalf of the R&B scene for Usher, Justin Bieber and J. Cole to name a few notable acts. Though he particularly has gained traction as a contributor, Blake who has roots in the Dominican Republic also has simultaneously been cultivating his own sound which is mainly R&B mixed with bits of neo-soul.
Throughout his successful career, he has unveiled numerous EPs Drift (2014), Blueberry Vapors (2016), Bijoux 23 (2018) and a joint project with Jordin Sparks, 1990 Forever which arrived this year. Just in time for the holidays, Blake has set his eyes on rolling out a holiday-themed album: Holiday Love. Featuring his own rendition of Donnie Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” the album is equipped with seven R&B tracks. On the horizon for the multi hyphenate is another album set to release in early 2020.
Prior to the release of Holiday Love, Blake shared his inspirations behind the album, what it was like being in the studio recording it and what fans can look for in his upcoming album Medusa with us. We are also premiering Holiday Love. You can listen to it below.
Can you share a bit about what it’s been like existing within R&B as a singer-songwriter-producer throughout your career?
It’s been very interesting, to say the least. It’s been exciting to watch the tides change and have everything going in a cycle. At one point in time, it felt like songwriters couldn’t be singers. In more recent times, it’s a thing to be an artist and write your own lyrics. Like we’ve seen with Drake, Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj, and Cardi B. But, I love where we’re at right now. It shouldn’t be kept separate. It’s okay to be multidimensional.
How exactly did you come up with the concept to release a trap, holiday-themed album?
I wouldn’t say it’s a trap-themed album, but it definitely has trap elements. Specifically, Holiday Love is an EP that touches on the different elements of the holidays. Not everyone is always happy, and there’s a song for everyone going through these varying realities. Like, “Misty Jones” which is about one who doesn’t have anybody to spend the holidays with. I wanted to touch on that perspective. Additionally, there’s a track about those who dread being around family and just want to spend time alone. There’s a song for everyone. Since some of my favorite holiday projects are untouchable, I wanted to bring a whole [new] energy to this project and the holiday album market.
What was it like in the studio recording Holiday Love?
It was fun recording this album. I went to Atlanta and linked with producer Troy Taylor, who worked with some of the legends like Whitney Houston on her own holiday project and Aretha Franklin. I knew if he created magic with them, we’d do the same. I also connected with Wardell Malloy, who I thought was the best person to have tag along, notably for his gospel perspective.
Which artists were your biggest inspirations you looked to as you were working on Holiday Love? Why?
Donnie Hathaway, my favorite vocalist is one. “This Christmas” is a classic standard, and is the only cover on Holiday Love. Other inspirations were The Clark Sisters, Commissioned, and of course Mariah Carey.
What can fans look forward to hearing on your upcoming album, Medusa?
On Medusa fans will hear a very, very different version of Elijah Blake. But, without abandoning the unique nuances that made them rock with me in the beginning. There’s more vulnerability and stories of where I’m at in life. Additionally, being from the Caribbean, I have a natural ear for time and rhythm. So, I played around with both and how I write. There’s more rhythmic elements and movements for fans to vibe to on this album.
Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind @robyn_mowatt.