One of the most anticipated performances over Beyond Wonderland weekend was seeing DJ Elephante. Ever since emerging on the scene in the early 2010s, Elephante keeps reinventing his music. His 2021 album, Heavy Glow, gained much success as many felt similar emotions after a painful year. Having performed at Beyond Wonderland before, now Elephante had the opportunity to leave a lasting impact closing out night one. Now with a new appreciation for the world, he pushes himself to continue building a lasting community through his music.
Vidal Granados: How are you enjoying your Beyond Wonderland weekend? You’ve done the event before now you’re performing second to last on Day 1, what does it mean to you?
Elephante: I’m having a blast. I’ve been laying low for a little bit, so I’ve really enjoyed getting back out there, feeling the energy from the crowds, and catching up with my artist friends backstage.
Honestly, it’s pretty crazy – I remember playing here super early, and it was one of my first big festivals ever, so to be back with a crazy set time feels surreal. At the end of the day though, it doesn’t matter what time I’m up there – I’m just putting everything I have into the performance and trying to engage with the crowd, big or small.
VG: With spring now here, the season of change, what are some things you are trying to change or improve about yourself?
E: Ever since the pandemic, I’ve been working on my mental health. Being an artist can be a really weird life, and I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression so it’s been a constant effort to build better habits. Trying to limit the self-loathing and impostor syndrome, doom-scrolling, and just generally feel better about myself.
Of course, I’m always trying to improve on my craft – singing, producing, and playing guitar. And on a more practical level, I just bought a house so I’ve been trying to fix the leaks in my basement… it’s been flooding every time it rains, so there have been many trips to Home Depot.
VG: I want to say congratulations on the success of Heavy Glow. Songs like “Dopamine” and “Holy Ghosts” are a vibe, but I really connected with “Tired of Being Tired”. What do you tell yourself or others when it comes to moments of depression or needing to expand and branch out of their comfort zone?
E: I think the biggest thing for me has been accepting that it’s okay to feel shitty. I’ve found a lot of the emotional pain comes from the cycle of feeling bad about feeling bad – for me, it’s a lot of “you are incredibly lucky and living your dreams, what do you have to complain about? Stop being a baby” etc. But by letting go and just acknowledging how you feel can break the chain reaction. It’s not really something you can think your way out of, and sometimes you just gotta let go of the wheel for a bit.
VG: Loved listening to your collaboration with HALIENE on the track “Hollow”. She’s a very powerful vocalist, what was the process like of working with her? What’s your mindset when picking who to work with?
E: She’s amazing and someone I’ve always wanted to work with. Her voice just communicates something profound every time you hear her. And Hollow was a song I instantly connected with – sometimes you just hear a demo and you automatically see the Matrix, and know exactly what you want to do with it. And she’s super chill – the biggest thing for me when working with artists is catching a vibe, and feeling comfortable with the push and pull of working together because the song is bigger than just one person.
VG: What artists or albums influenced you growing up? Artists or albums you can play when need moments to unwind. Any upcoming events or projects you’re excited about?
E: I was a singer songwriter growing up, and my idol was John Mayer – he was the reason why I taught myself to play guitar and write songs. Then I heard Skrillex when I was a little older, and my head exploded – he was the reason why I started producing electronic music. And of course, artists like Avicii, Kaskade, and Porter Robinson influenced what my sound turned into. Nowadays I’m really inspired by Odesza, Rufus, and Lane 8.
I’ve got a lot of new music coming! I have a song called “No Explanations” with Stephanie Poetri and Zhang Yanqi coming out on 3/31, and a new single every few weeks for the rest of the year. I’m stoked to get all this new music out and play a bunch of festivals this summer… it’s Elephante SZN 🙂
VG: I read when you were learning piano you loved Chopin. (I also love Chopin and currently trying to learn piano) You also got into DJ after going to Harvard which is quite a leap. Any advice you have for people thinking about jumping in and perusing their dreams?
E: Chopin is the goat. My advice to everyone who’s thinking about a creative life is to not wait for permission to start. There’s no single path anyone takes – you kind of have to just figure it out for yourself, and there’s no roadmap. So just get going and start creating, and don’t worry if you’re bad, which you will be because everyone is bad when they first start. The difference between artists who make it are the ones that are able to grind through being bad and have that irrational belief in themselves that they can get there one day.