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  • Writer's pictureMary Ann

Thirsty Thursday Featuring Ellisa Sun

Thank you for chatting with us! Did you always want to be a musician or was there a specific moment that something happened that made you think "this is what I want to do with my life." If so, what was it? Definitely the first open mic I played, which was at The Hotel Utah saloon in San Francsico, CA. The first time I played an original song there was mind blowing. The crowd was actually listening to me which felt insane. It was just such an amazing high (and also very terrifying) to share something so vulnerable with strangers and have them connect with it. What is one thing you can tell us that most people don’t know about you and might surprise us? I actually got my start writing songs when I was just 22, and I started by writing comedic parody songs! I wrote a few Weird Al- esque songs because my sister is a comedian and she encouraged me to not take myself too seriously. I parodied the song “My Favorite Things” from The Sounds of Music, but I made it about “My Favorite Things of San Francisco” because I was living there at the time.

Is there any news for the forthcoming album? The forthcoming album is on its way to you! I’ve now released the first single, Once Upon a Time, and I’ll be releasing the next one in October. The entire album will be out in February of 2024. I am so excited to get the final product out into the world, because this project was such a labor of love. I was able to raise $15K on ifundwomen for this project, and I’m planning on getting vinyl pressed too, which has been a lifelong dream of mine. The sounds on the album are really very me, and I love how me and Connor (my co-producer) worked together to create such a great vibe. All 8 of the songs are really great. If you could only perform one of your songs for someone who has never heard of you, what song would that be? I think it would be “Once Upon a Time.” It’s a good representation of my style as a whole–it’s got a little R&B, jazz and soul.

Is there one song in particular you’re most excited about people hearing? I’m super excited to release the next single, which is called “Who Knew.” The story behind this song is funny, fascinating and heartbreaking all at the same time. I wrote it with my friend Kenzie. A man breaks up with his girlfriend because he says he needs to “find himself”--but he immediately finds another girlfriend who looks exactly like his ex. It’s messed up for sure, but the more I’ve talked about the story the more people have told me they can relate and/or have experienced the same thing!

What’s your advice for young artists trying to establish a name for themselves? Especially young females that may see you as a role model. My advice is to practice self-compassion and intention. I’d recommend being really kind to yourself, because it’s easy to get caught up in what everybody else is doing and compare yourself. I certainly struggle with this, so that’s when intention comes in. It’s very important to always remember your intention behind the music. Why are you making music? It’s hard to answer this question with one answer, and that’s ok. But I think remembering your reasons why you’re doing it will keep you motivated and focused.

What’s the story behind your album’s title? My album is called Sarabi, after my cat! I adopted Sarabi in 2021 when I was going through a tough breakup, working on the album, and living alone. It was the best decision I ever made!

Where do you draw inspiration from when writing? I draw inspiration from my favorite singer-songwriters, going to local shows in Nashville, and my friends. Every once in a while I’ll go to a show of an artist I had never heard of, and I’ll just get hit with a wave of inspiration! An artist’s style of singing, lyricism, or instruments can always inspire me.

At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs? This is such a beautiful question and so hard for me to answer! I’d say my hope is for my fans to feel like they have permission to take up space–in a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual sense. I want people to feel like they can be their most authentic selves and express themselves however they please.

Was there ever music playing in the kitchen growing up? 100%! I think a huge reason I play music is because of my mom always playing music in the kitchen. She loved R&B/Soul and folk. She also loves to listen to bossa nova while she cooks.

Favorite music to listen to while you cook? I love listening to bossa nova while I cook! It makes me feel like I’m on vacation!

What is your favorite wine? Malbec. It’s so smooth! I love me some red wine. How do you drink your coffee? I LOVE COFFEE. It is one of my favorite things in the world and brings me so much joy. I like it with a little sweetener and some oat milk. What is your favorite sandwich? Banh Mi! Home cooking or going out for dinner? Home cooking all the way! Nobody makes it like your family does.

What's your favorite family recipe? I grew up eating a lot of stir fries and Chinese-American food my mom made. My favorite dish of hers is called “Green and Red Chicken”. It's just chicken with green and red bell peppers, plus rice. Simple, but so delicious! I particularly loved when she put peanuts in it.

Finally, if you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand who would it be and why? It would have to be a type of coffee. A bigger name brand of coffee I like is Peet’s or Cafe Bustelo, but I like to support small businesses and there are a ton of small, great coffee shops in Nashville. Headquarters is my favorite! Coffee is one of my favorite things and brings me such joy. I like to think my music goes well with coffee, because it’s a chill vibe to listen to while sipping a good cup of coffee on a cozy day.

If it were a food brand, it would have to be some type of baked good. I absolutely love scones and croissants. I love pastries and coffee, so maybe a bakery based in Nashville. I love Dozen Bakery, and Dose has amazing pastries too.

Ellisa Sun cuts her heart out and leaves it on the stage, which is why she never wears white.

Originally from Los Angeles, she decided to hit the road in 2018 and embarked on her nationwide Dreamboat tour, playing 170 shows in 365 days while living in a 30-foot Winnebago. After the tour, Ellisa relocated to Nashville, Tennessee.

Inspired primarily by R&B, soul, jazz, and bossa nova, Ellisa’s music is a unique blend of genres that creates a textured sound with raw, heartfelt lyricism. Ellisa’s music can be heard on the Sony Pictures Television show L.A.’s Finest, starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba and the Hulu show Dollface starring Kat Dennings and Brenda Song. Her song “Evening” was recently featured in the show Kung Fu on the CW.

Ellisa recently launched a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign with ifundwomen and successfully raised $15,000 to support her upcoming record, which will feature 8 original songs and a team of Nashville’s finest musicians, producers and songwriters.


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