Sheva Elliot- Land of the Free
Artist’s Name: Sheva Elliot
Song Title: Land of the Free
“I’ll never just shut up and sing.” So declares Sheva Elliot, the sonic-rock songstress born and raised in the music scene of LA. Over the past several years, Sheva has been on a journey back to her untethered self. She’s gotten sober, she’s reclaimed her Jewish heritage with all its inherent mysticism, and she’s written a hell of a lot of music.
While her background is blues-rock and soul, Sheva has recently ventured out into the ether, with a sound she likes to call “cosmic witch rock”. Think a lovechild of Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Patti Smith, and ancient high-priestess hymnals of the Nile Valley.
Sheva is not only exploring new sonic, but also new content. She’s grown tired of the unhealthy “hurt me and I’ll love you more” trope in blues and soul. Now, she’s doing her best to show up with more vulnerability and less apology. To her, that’s ultimate empowerment. She recognizes that to know and love oneself is to know and love others. In her mind, part of this love is protecting the only home we have, this one we call Earth. She’s heartbroken over the disconnection so many of us feel for each other and our natural world.
Sheva’s single, “Land of the Free” (with a music video) speaks of this sorrow, along with the anger at the various injustices we’ve witnessed under our star-spangled banner.
Call her a lofty California-born idealist, but she dreams of a place more like this: oceans are not set aflame by Big Oil, therapy is more accessible than guns, and people can get an abortion if they want to, without permission from strangers in Congress. She also dreams of throwing a wild benefit concert with organizations for environmental justice and women’s/BIPOC/LGBTQ+ health. (Bonnie Raitt, have your people call Sheva’s people!)
Ultimately, Sheva feels the only way to heal our global home is to first recognize and heal the home we carry within. She’s excited to continue building, exploring, and sharing her spiritual abode, and all the music that comes from it. In doing so, she hopes that someone out there, also looking for a place to rest, will pick up the glint of his or her own reflection.
Advice: Piece of advice I would give to a new artist: Fuck up. This was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. I was talking to a friend of mine, who is older and more seasoned in the music industry than I am. We were discussing an upcoming track that I was producing and I said to him, “I’m just so afraid of fucking up.” He smiled and said warmly, “Well, damn, I hope you do. How else are you supposed to learn?” It totally shifted my perspective. Instead of being terrified of doing something wrong, I started to become excited about learning. Success and failure are both subjective notions anyway. I’m now a lot gentler with myself in the learning process, and I try to run toward what scares me.
Instrumentation: I often will have a melody in my head and sit down to the piano to find it by ear. I don’t sit down and say “Okay, I’m going to write a song in ‘A’ minor today”. I just do what the muse and the melody ask of me.
Impact: When I sing, I feel such peace and release, and that I’m in total alignment. When my “fans”, aka my mom, sing along to my music, my heart kind of implodes. It’s so wild to be able to share what has been given me, see it, touch someone else, make someone dance or cry or smile. Music is transcendent and morphing that way.
Goals: To tell a story or express some kind of need that’s been living inside of me. I want to get right to the truth, say what I want to say without using cliché.
Writing: Every song has its own process. Sometimes, I’ll receive a melody and find the lyrics later. Other times, I’ll write a poem, and the poem will turn into the first verse of the song. If I’m feeling stuck about the lyrics, I’ll draft out the story of the song, what it’s about, what I’m trying to say, then craft the structure around the message. Aside from writing music, it’s important to me to keep a diary. This keeps me connected to my inner world on a daily, which allows me to get there faster when I sit down to the piano.
Music Style: I don’t know if there is such a thing as ultimately “unique” in art. We all borrow from our idols and our idols have borrowed from their inspiration. In addition to various poets and dead rock stars, one of my greatest sources of inspiration is the natural world. What I hope sets me apart is the truth and vulnerability I want to bring forward in my music and my relationship with the world. I like to think of my songs as open letters.
Recording: I always start with voice notes on my phone. So many voice notes. I’ll cut a couple demos at home, and then bring them to a professional studio. My upcoming single, Land of the Free, was recorded in Los Angeles at Strawhorse Studios, which is owned by the very talented Thomas Ross Johansen.
Collaboration: I have collaborated with other songwriters in the past, but it’s been a few years. I’ve written my upcoming record alone, but I very much want to collaborate, especially with other female/non-binary musicians!
Song: A feeling of deep rage, sadness, and helplessness inspired “Land of the Free”. After Trump’s win, I braced for what would surely be an ugly turn for the United States. I knew there would be horrific attacks on reproductive freedom, setbacks on racial justice, a free-for-all when it came to guns, and most importantly, and a death sentence for the environment. All of those fears were proven true.
I finished the song during the time between the death of George Floyd and the Capitol Riot on January 6th, 2021. Watching the riot live on the news and the obvious collusion of certain congress members in that riot put me over the edge. I knew I needed to get into the studio and record the track. Releasing this song is a way to let out some of my frustration, and to connect with people who feel the same way. I’m not singing this for myself – I’m singing it for the people living in this country who are robbed of their voice and autonomy.
Artist’s Name and Album’s Title: My artist’s name is a derivative of my given Hebrew name, Elisheva. The title of the song is inspired by the last line of the United States national anthem, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Obviously, I think this anthem is propaganda. But I’ll be happy to sing it when we truly do live in the land of the free.