Elijah LeFlore is the budding musician and award-winning filmmaker out of Chicago, IL, who has found a way to tap back into this state of recollection through his modern take on hip-hop and R&B. With musical influences that span genres, his music is often presented to engage the listener out the gate with an optimistic bravado and a familiar presence. A member of “The Lucky Six,” a Chicago collective whose aim is to present a new perspective in the local music scene, LeFlore maintains his prolific run in 2022. His debut album “Sunset Radio” encapsulates his state of mind regarding his music and is an impressive step forward as he looks to craft a bigger sound. At nine tracks, the album takes listeners through a journey of love, lust, and evolving sonics.
We recently had the chance to speak with Elijah LeFlore about the desire at the core of “Sunset Radio,” his songwriting process, the importance of cover art, and much more. Read the full interview below.
Swidlife: How does it feel to have the album out in the world?
Elijah LeFlore: I’ve been sitting on this album since September. It feels amazing! It’s a special moment and just a glimpse of what’s to come this year.
Let’s talk about the concept a bit. How did the album come together?
The album’s name came from a trip I made this summer with my girl across the country from the A to Cali. Driving through the desert spoke volumes to me, as it inspired a few of the songs like “She” and “Atmosphere” and the album title. It’s crazy because I wrote “Bittersweet” on a trip to LA a month prior, which I didn’t think would make the album at first. We got into a terrible car accident during the cross country trip on the return home, where the song “Second Chance” was inspired. Those essentially were skeletal of the album. The other songs came together to complete the album by being honest and intentional with myself, my story, and my perspective.
The album art had me hooked. I know you’ve probably heard that cover art is the first thing people gravitate towards before they even listen to the music, so talk to me about how that came together?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned on this journey is what you put in; you get out. It matters how you want your masterpiece to be remembered, so every aspect of it has to make sense to you. So not only did it matter to me that the music was there sonically, but the cover art translated my thoughts artistically. So I searched, waited, searched, waited, and I stumbled upon the works of Terrel Jones. I reached out and explained the vision, and he delivered.
“This album is literally a fresh start for me.“
Absolutely! And that attention to detail is translated throughout the album as well. What was the songwriting process like for you while working on the album?
Sometimes, I would search for thirty minutes to a couple of hours for a beat that spoke to me and inspired me to write. I started practicing not forcing anything. If it’s forced, it’s not real. That’s not saying that anybody else forcing it is not real; this is my practice. Implementing this process made every song so natural for me because it was 100% my story and made writing much more straightforward. The longest song probably took me two hours at most to write.
In terms of your process, is there anything you did while writing songs for this album that you’ve never done before
I prayed heavily before writing each song to let the words flow clear from my heart and mind. I would also light candles and make sure the room I was writing in, usually my dining room or office, was clean and smelled good. I made sure the environment I was creating in was proper. That was important.
What would you say makes this album the perfect introduction to Elijah LeFlore?
This is literally a rebirth for me: a new mindset and new energy—full transparency over the years. There have been glimpses in my art of trying to take it in this direction, but I boxed myself in. I was forcing 16’s because I thought I believed that’s all that would be accepted from me. This album is literally a fresh start for me. This album shows who I truly am and the type of art that inspires me. It is a see-through mirror of my heart, mind, and soul. It’s true, no flexing, no exaggerations, literally just me. The song “Bittersweet” is about dealing with my disappointment with myself and the mental health issues I’ve faced over the years. “She” is about a phase in my relationship when I was mirroring and trying to be what I thought my shorty needed, but in truth, I was never listening and was doing more damage than good. “God (Outro)” is about me watching the apocalypse of myself and being in a joyous moment as the old versions of myself burn in the past. There is so much meaning in this album I could go on. In short, this is an introduction to who Elijah LeFlore is, who I will become, and what to expect on future projects.
What do you hope listeners take away from the album?
Two significant takeaways I would like to see are “this is real life, with real up and downs, love yourself, be kind to yourself so you can forgive yourself, and let go of whatever is holding you back.” The second thing is, “love the people that you claim to love the first time unconditionally, and do your best to respect them and their boundaries because whether it’s a friendship or a relationship, things will go so much smoother.” We are all here together. Let’s make the most of this time.
Considering the talent out there right now, what advice do you have for young artists trying to break into the scene?
This may be me beating a dead horse but run your own race. You set the pace for your life. Just be prepared for your moment so when it hits you, you can seize it. Put that work in so when you land in that one meeting that can change your life, you have the quality and content to match the belief in yourself you’re exuding to the person in front of you. Lastly, be open-minded to change so that you can evolve with the game. It’s forever changing, don’t get left behind being stubborn. What worked in 2021 may not be the move in 2023.
Also, stay out of your own way, appreciate your art, and thrive in being unique. Don’t be a hater; appreciate your peers. Don’t be the guy/girl who’s focused on what the next artist is doing so much you forget the dope shit you have going on and the talent you’ve been blessed with.
Stream ‘Sunset Radio’ below via Spotify and head over here for your preferred streaming service.