Kulture by Chloé Sautereau July 23, 2021
Michigan-born artist Elephante (Tim Wu) decided to take the leap towards music when his corporate lifestyle led to sleepless nights of writing songs more than anything else.
“Making music resonated so deeply with me and it’s just what I loved doing on my own time.”Elephante for Kulture Hub
Ever since, he’s released two EPs, I Am The Elephante, followed by Glass Mirror, that saw tracks top the global dance charts. Selling out venues like the Wynn in Las Vegas or playing Lollapalooza, Elephante is elaborating his musical voice.
Following his last single “High Water,” today he releases the nostalgic yet uplifting track “Holy Ghosts.”
Although he graduated from Harvard, music was always a part of Elephante’s life. An accomplished musician through and through, the Michigan-born artist was classically trained on the piano as a child, but only later discovered his true passion for music.
Born to Taiwanese parents, the path was clear cut for him since the start, and finding success as a musician strayed far from it.
But during his teen years, he taught himself guitar, learning John Mayer riffs all night long, and despite the societal norms he was surrounded by growing up, he continued to fall more deeply in love with the craft.
“I didn’t grow up seeing anyone who looked like me doing what I wanted to do.”Elephante for Kulture Hub
Still considering it a hobby at the time, he performed at open mics however “shitty,” and spent all his free time writing, learning, and practicing.
Unaware of it then, Elephante had yet to overcome a mental block: that for someone with his origins, being an artist could be more than just a pipe dream.
While his journey could easily have him typecast into a space the industry had yet to see filled, the Michigan-born artist admirably chose against the easier way in when deciding to commit to music full-time.
He chose music above all, and his courage in diving headfirst is all the more inspiring because of it. He embraced feeling like the odd one out, like the “elephant in the room,” and “Elephante” was born.
When it comes to creating, Elephante’s singer-songwriter instincts always take the wheel to begin with.
Whether at the piano or on guitar, “It always starts with a song for me,” he explained about his creative process. He then shifts what he’s written into the digital realm (Ableton) to fill out the track’s production.
This process seems to nurture the organic blend of live and electronic sounds we hear in his music. From starting point to final product, his projects are nestled in EDM but keep the raw feeling behind them burning. And the pandemic only further propelled him in that direction.
Lockdown allowed Elephante to reconnect with the music he first played as a teen, and find his voice again as a singer-songwriter. This allowed for his singing and guitar playing to somewhat take center stage again after many projects where his focus resided mainly in writing and production.
Indeed, his recent “High Water” video, a collaborative project with director Alex Goyette, makes the electric guitar a crucial element.
It was one of the first bigger production videos Elephante ever shot, and he did not hold back one bit. Executing all stunts himself, however demanding, the challenges were not vain. The visuals are poignant and come hand in hand with the emotion that lies behind the song.
Struggling with opioids in the past, unfortunately lockdown revealed itself particularly challenging for the artist. Though far from it now, the feelings that surfaced while being stuck at home somewhat plunged him back into a resembling sensation.
The conceptual video was filmed half underwater and half in mid-air, evocative of those emotions; from loss of control and absent-mindedness to loneliness.
It was a few months before he finally put pen to paper again, after the pandemic hit. That’s when “Holy Ghosts” was born.
Out today, the song is an ode to the empty streets of LA and the overwhelming feeling of being haunted by the memories we found ourselves longing for during these times. While it is certain to get you on your feet, the track also screams nostalgia and is sustained by an invigorating electric guitar riff.
Like in “High Water,” “Holy Ghosts” features Elephante’s deep and comforting voice.
Revisiting his beginnings as a singer-songwriter and taking a beat encouraged the Michigan-born artist to bring his voice back to the foreground. And his warm tone is something we are excited to hear more of, especially as we return to live performances.
A show not only for the ears but for the soul, Elephante isn’t scared to multitask. Bringing his instrumental skills to his audience as well, he seeks to create the most unique live experience.
A bit of a shot in the dark the first time he attempted it, taking out his electric guitar while he DJs his set has become a signature move that reflects the nature of his music.
With an album in the works, although it’s been quite a journey already, it’s far from over for Elephante.
“Holy Ghosts” is out today. Stream it on all platforms, and let yourself float, feel, and dance away.