Three years after winning “Revelation of the Year” at the Gala de l’ADISQ, pop artist Eli Rose returns this Friday with Hypersensible, her second career album. In this emotionally charged, introspective new chapter, the Montrealer offers a more mature version of the sound that has set her apart in the past. PAN M 360 spoke with her about her life over the past few years, the birth of her son and the creation of her new opus!
After several years as part of the duo Eli et Papillon, the Quebecoise had made a good impression with her homonymous album, notably with the track Carrousel. Then came the pandemic, preventing her from meeting her public on the various stages of Quebec and, like most artists, putting her career on hold. Since then, the 36-year-old singer has become a mother and spent a great deal of time in the studio, giving birth to her second album.
For Hypersensible, Eli Rose collaborated with lyricist Gaële to write the lyrics, and the productions are signed by the best in the business, such as Ruffsound, RealMind and DRMS, the trio she worked with on her first project. We hear more instruments than on Eli Rose, giving her music a more organic feel. Her vaporous voice blends extremely well, her choruses are catchy and it’s easy to identify with what she’s saying. Mission accomplished for this comeback.
PAN M 360: You’re back this Friday with your first album in four years. What state of mind are you in right now?
ELI ROSE: I’m very serene, and I think that’s because I’ve matured since my last project. When I launched my first solo album, I was really nervous. I was proposing a completely different sound to what I’d been doing with Eli et Papillon, so it was quite stressful. I think Hypersensible is more like me. I’m simply looking forward to presenting it to the public. I’m also looking forward to meeting my public live, which I wasn’t really able to do on my first album with the arrival of the pandemic.
PAN M 360: Since the release of your first album in 2019, a lot has happened in your life, including the birth of your son. Has his arrival changed the way you see your career in music?
ELI ROSE: Completely. I think that explains why I feel calmer about the launch of this album. The arrival of my son has sort of put my values in the right place. Becoming a mother wasn’t easy. It was a real ordeal. I missed a lot of sleep and had a difficult pregnancy. It turned my life upside down. Now I feel more stable and I feel like I’m at a good time in my life. My son is older and all is well. I think it’s a good time to launch this album. It’s an emotionally charged album and writing it was very therapeutic for me, I think I needed it at the time.
PAN M 360: What did you manage to do better with Hypersensible than with your previous project Eli Rose?
ELI ROSE: I think I’ve improved a lot in terms of managing my emotions. Of course, I’m still going to be very sensitive and I’m still going to experience my emotions intensely, but I think I’m learning to manage them better. It’s funny because, as mothers, we have to teach our children to manage their emotions, but I have to do it too!
PAN M 360: How did you go about creating this new opus?
ELI ROSE: It wasn’t an easy composition. My team and I started when I was pregnant. I had a really difficult pregnancy. I was vomiting and nauseous 24 hours a day, but I didn’t stop myself from composing. I just kept going. That’s why the album was made over a longer period. If I come back four years later, it’s not because I wanted to wait four years. It’s really because I had a difficult pregnancy and became a mother. The year I became a mother, I wasn’t really thinking about writing songs. We put it on hold and then I came back to it. It was a long process. My team and I really took it one day at a time. If it was a good week, we wrote. If it was “I’m not sleeping, my son is colicky”, we waited. We ended up with this album, which took two and a half years to write.
PAN M 360: Tell me more about your meeting with artist Gaële Cockpit, which was a turning point in the development of Hypersensible.
ELI ROSE: After winning “Revelation of the Year” at ADISQ in 2020, everything came to a halt for me with the pandemic. I really didn’t know what I was going to do. At one point, I tried to recreate it, but it wasn’t working. That’s when I thought of Gaële, whom I’d met at a Kenekt camp in the past. I knew she was extremely talented, so I gave her a call. She invited me to her place and we had coffee together. We opened a document and brainstormed. Talking to her, I quickly realized that I’d found the best person to co-write the album with. I felt she understood where I was coming from and what I wanted to say.
PAN M 360: With this album, you wanted to return to a production style that was more organic than electronic. Why did you do this?
ELI ROSE: When I was part of Éli et Papillon, we only made music with real instruments. When I went solo, I wanted to show people what I could do. I wanted to do things differently, and I went totally to the extreme with 100% electronic music. For Hypersensible, I wanted to find a balance. This album is a happy medium between folk and electronic music. It’s a middle ground in which I feel more comfortable than in one of the two extremes.
PAN M 360: How does the album title represent you?
ELI ROSE: I’m definitely a hypersensitive person. It’s a word that comes up all the time in my life. I experience emotions very intensely. I cry easily and have a lot of empathy. Emotions are part of my daily life. I think it was an obvious choice to write an album called “Hypersensible”. I’m more comfortable with this side of my personality than I used to be. I’m more open to saying to myself “Look, this is who I am.”
PAN M 360: In your song Ace of Hearts, you say “Following the rules we dictated to her. Is she too sensitive to play?” Do you often question your own hypersensitivity?
ELI ROSE: It’s funny you should mention that phrase. I’ve often asked myself, “Am I too sensitive to be in music? Because the truth is, when you’re a singer, you’re in the spotlight, people criticize you and have opinions on social networks and all that. At one point when I launched my first album, I said to myself “Wow, I don’t know if this is for me. I don’t know if I’m capable of living it and taking it on.” Over time, I realized that I needed music to live. I need to describe my emotions. Now I’ve got a certain step back from all that, and that helps me a lot. I don’t dwell on all the criticism and negativity. I dwell more on the positive.
PAN M 360: Are you also at this stage of acceptance in your life in general?
ELI ROSE: Yes, I try. I tend to see things negatively, but I’m really working on seeing things more positively and not dwelling on them. I think being a mom has taught me that. I’m more attracted now to spending time with my son and picking dandelions than dwelling on criticism.
PAN M 360: What’s your title CDN all about?
ELI ROSE: CDN is short for Côte-des-Neiges. When I was 16-17, I was working at the Saint-Hubert on Côte-des-Neiges and fell in love with a boy. I’ll spare you the details of the story, but I really broke this guy’s friend’s heart. So much so, that 15 years later, I was still thinking about it and felt like writing a song. In writing an album about emotions, I obviously revisited a lot of stories from my past. I’m an emotional person, so I have a ton of stories to tell. When I wrote the song, I said to myself, “I’m going to call that person. He’s in a pharmacy in Granby. I found his number and called him at the pharmacy. In the end, it was a bad idea because he didn’t really want to talk to me. But anyway, I was happy to write that song. My past will always be part of me and I draw a lot of my inspiration from it.
PAN M 360: I think a lot of people will recognize themselves in this song. Are you the kind of person who looks back and asks questions?
ELI ROSE: That’s something that used to bother me a lot. I’m someone who thinks a lot about the past. I tend to be very nostalgic, thinking about my high school years and what I used to go through. My song CDN seems to have taught me to turn the page on the past and let go. It’s always going to exist and be a part of me, but that doesn’t stop me from looking forward and moving forward.
PAN M 360: “N’oublie pas,” your first collaboration with rapper Koriass, comes at the very end of your album. What is this track about?
ELI ROSE: “N’oublie pas,” it’s our two perspectives on yo-yo love, the kind that goes wrong. It’s love that’s hard to let go of. I’ve always loved writing about love because I’m a romantic. I’ve listened to Dawson’s Creek 16 times now, and it’s a series about love. I think I’ll always, in spite of myself, write love songs. Don’t forget, it was a beat that Ruffsound and RealMind sent me at the very end of writing the album. I really felt it was the missing piece to bring the whole thing together. I was really happy that Korias agreed to do this collaboration with me, he’s an artist whose work I greatly admire.
PAN M 360: For two tracks on Hypersensible, you’ve reunited with producers RealMind, Ruffsound and D R M S, the trio you worked with on your first album. What does this reunion mean to you?
ELI ROSE: As I mentioned earlier, I have a nostalgic side. Although I’m moving forward, my past is part of me. These are guys who have supported me since day 1 of my solo project. To have managed to get them all back together in the same room, in the studio making music, was really special. It’s an honour to be able to collaborate with such talented people. It’s really an album we enjoyed making. There was no stress, no pressure. I think that’s why I’m so proud of it. I hope this isn’t the last collaboration we’ll do together.
PAN M 360: You mentioned you were disappointed not to be able to go on tour due to the pandemic after being crowned “Revelation of the Year” at the ADISQ Gala in 2020. I imagine you plan to make the most of the months following the release of your album!
ELI ROSE: Certainly! I hope the pandemic doesn’t come back so I can enjoy it. I’ve got a tour starting in February, including the Montreal premiere at Le Ministère on February 1. There are several shows coming up and lots of promotions. It’s only after the holidays that things really get going!
Photo credit : Universal Music Canada