Elohim opens up about mental health on ‘Braindead’ EP [Interview]
Los Angeles-based Elohim has released her new Braindead EP in celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month. The extended play delves into Elohim’s mental health obstacles, a centerpiece of her artistry dating back from “Xanax” in 2016 through “Hallucinating” in 2017 to “Panic Attacks” featuring Yoshi Flower in 2018. Braindead takes listeners on a roller coaster of emotions, through energetic panic, distraction, sedation, meditation, and brain fog. She ends the project with her version of Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta” featuring AWOLNATION, a song about society driving its members mad.
For the month of May, all proceeds from streams on the Braindead EP will go to a selection of charities focusing on providing outreach and support for those suffering from mental health issues. Elohim has also released a series of breathwork videos for each song on the EP as a form of guided meditation. She will also release a docu-series about the EP to be released in the coming month on her YouTube channel.
Elohim is Skrillex‘s muse these days, co-producing with the storied producer on her recent two singles, “Buckets” and “Connect” on the OWSLA imprint’s limited output. The rising producer also hit high marks on “Sleepy Eyes” with Whethan and “Love Is Alive” with Louis The Child. She will also hit the road on tour with Blackbear this month. Find tour dates here.
Can you tell us about your mental health obstacles and when you began realizing you had them?
I had my first memorable life-altering panic attack when I was 7 years old. It seemed to start there, and then everything changed. The following year, I couldn’t go to school without having a panic attack. I would be at the market, and if I was alone in the next aisle over from my mom, I would go into sheer and utter panic, which instantly made me think, “I’m going to throw up.” When I was a child, it was hard to control the physical nature of it, and I would often dry heave or throw up.
My parents never put me in therapy or identified it as anxiety or panic, so I was lost until I became old enough to understand. I was OK throughout high school and a couple years after, but as soon as I created Elohim and started performing, it kind of all came back to me full-force. I felt 7 again. I am not sure what exactly triggered it again and brought it all back, but I went through some incredibly difficult times.
What steps have you taken to alleviate your symptoms?
I began therapy, and that is helping tremendously. The idea was to work with my therapist (she specializes in trauma) through my issues without the use of medication. After consistently working with Susan for a year and a half, she suggested I see a psychiatrist and try full time medication, while continuing to see her. That is when my life clicked into gear and totally changed for the better.
I also started taking vitamins, developed healthier eating habits, and I try to stay consistent with physical activity.
What industry or life battles are you currently facing with respect to your mental health obstacles?
Everything has a way of being a trigger at times, but for me, it is important to recognize that and be smart about it. I have to tell myself it is OK to take the “me time” that I need.
What is something you’ve learned about mental health that you wish you knew earlier in your diagnosis?
I learned that it is OK to take monitored medication. I was so scared of any medication for years. I have become more self aware of what I am going through and have realized that hundreds of thousands of people also feel these feelings, which makes me feel a lot less isolated. Having that sense of community is remarkable.
What steps are you taking to raise awareness and build your community around a positive discussion about mental health?
The first steps I am taking are to start real and honest conversations. Every aspect of it: no frills, no sugar coating. We are ALL HUMAN! I don’t know where it comes from or why we are programmed to keep things a secret and inside. I want to tell my story so other people are brave enough to tell theirs. I want people to know that it is not something to be ashamed of, and it is OK to ask for help.
Why did you chose to cover Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta?”
I was driving one day, and I think KROQ in Los Angeles was doing a flash-back hour and they played it. I had the chorus in my head all day after hearing it, so I got home, sat down at the piano, and started learning it. I looked up the lyrics, and as I was singing it, in that moment, I was kind of floored with how relevant the lyrics were to my life right now. I had no idea they were speaking about mental health! It was serendipity at its finest.
How has your courage been lately?
I am feeling really good! I feel strong and ready to conquer all. I am consistently working with my therapist and being proactive about taking care of myself. It is important to take what you learn in therapy and incorporate it into your everyday life. Keep yourself on a schedule. Everything takes practice and work. I know that at any moment of any day, I could sink back down but I keep pushing forward and collecting tools to make that experience less traumatic for me.
Photo credit: Tiziano Lugli