Music

Oakland’s Elujay Doesn’t Believe In Artistic Boundaries

Elujay isn’t satisfied with one lane. He wants to rule the whole road. With a handful of tracks running up the streaming charts, the young Oakland-based musician is now setting his sights on a variety of different artistic mediums — including video direction, graphic design, and more. “As a good artist, you have to be able to imitate and do different things,” he explained in a recent conversation over Zoom. “I think the initial intention is always just pure love. It’s just, I love this. I want to try this.”

A graphic designer by trade, Elujay began releasing music in 2016 and has been consistently dropping new tunes for the better part of five years, each building upon the catalog that he describes as “honest, soulful, groovy and Afrocentric.” The songs are difficult to pin down within a certain genre classification, existing in the space between rock, funk, R&B, indie, hip-hop… and almost everything else. Inspired by artists that mastered the feat of true artistic versatility and attention to detail, Elujay has been preparing for years to channel the creative spark across everything he’s done, and everything he wants to try next.

He pauses to think about it when I ask what sounds he hasn’t been able to crack yet, but still has interest in exploring. Then his eyes light up and he extends out his arms to signal the full spectrum of everywhere he still wants to go. “I want to dive a little bit more into the electronic space. Some Joni Mitchell-style stuff would be kind of sick, or just more experimental stuff. Dive a little bit more into like the Bjork — Arca bag. Maybe some Brazilian-style stuff, some by funk. I think that’d be fire.” Elujay’s base instinct is artistic curiosity, and he wants to take this opportunity to be strategic and try… everything.

In order to streamline the creative process, he notes the importance of keeping your priorities straight. “The first step is just being honest with yourself and realizing that it’s going to not happen overnight and that it’s only about the work. If you’re Black, you’re going to have to work twice as hard, because this industry is not handing anybody anything. I’ve been cognizant of how difficult it has been for people to actually care about [my art].” It’s also important to establish a good work/life balance to stave off burnout. “Make sure you give yourself time, read books, drink water. Don’t be like me. I don’t sleep. Get some sleep.”

But before he jumps into any new creative endeavor, Elujay is sure to put in the work to understand and build upon the foundation created by his inspirations. He likens the intention of his artistic process to that of Porsche: “I put that same amount of love and care in detail into a song or a visual. They both provide an aesthetically pleasing service, in a way.” He adds that being part of the Porsche Next 9 series “means the world to me, man. That’s crazy. Porsche represents that staple in time, where someone really feels like they’ve made it.”

Despite his love for the Porsche brand, Elujay’s definition of success doesn’t come in the form of a sports car, or international fame. Instead, it’s something much simpler: “I don’t have a desire to be a megastar,” he says with a mischievous grin. “What I really want is to sell-out shows. I think that’s when I feel like, ‘okay, I’ve made it.'”

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