Brooklyn musical artist and yogi Elly Kace released her concept album Nothing I see means anything on November 19th, 2021. Formerly a professional award-winning opera singer, Elly Kace has found a profound passion for yoga and mindfulness. Blending her musical knowledge with her fierce spiritual intentions, Kace has created a piece of art that serves as a medium for catharsis and regeneration. Its emotive, ambient sound is reminiscent of a hybrid between Sigur Rós and CocoRosie.
In the theme of gratitude, Elly Kace’s debut album attempts to offer a place of solace for its listeners. Taking her own pain and transmuting it into loving healing energy, Kace masterfully curated a collection of sounds that are not only beautiful to listen to but also assist in energetic cleansing. Allow Kace to explain further in our interview together about her project Nothing I see means anything…
CM: I’m pulling a quote from your Spotify profile: “…from early on, I realized music is something that connects us behind our bodies and circumstances.” Do you know what moment in your life really defined this understanding for you?
EK: A lot of moments like that. I think of early childhood memories when I singing with the Chicago children’s choir on stage where I remembered feeling like I belonged and feeling a really deep love and a noticing of the energy of the audience at the same time. It was more about how I felt in a moment on stage. There were a few other times when I was doing opera as well that were very powerful. I feel a little bit like I’m chasing it now. I had a mini one today in a yoga class. Sometimes I’ll have them while in yoga postures, or anything really that brings me to an acute level of presence and awareness of exactly where I am or doing. Performing and meditating are all places it’s come up.
CM: How do you try to express this in your music?
EK: I did my best. It’s kind of an inexpressible thing, but I really was mindful when I was writing and recording that the intentionality of the record was the driving force. What does this word feel like, or this one? I was just trying to be as intentional as I could from a place in honesty.
CM: What is your relationship with yoga, and how has it influenced the making of this album?
EK: Yoga has saved my life on multiple occasions. I’ve been very lucky to have been practicing yoga in some form since I was 12 or 13. Recently with the pandemic, I got much more in tune with my meditation practice, the chanting and philosophy side of yoga. Everyone’s had a rough 18 months; I don’t think anyone was spared. For me, that presented itself first in a really big life shift of sorts. I’ve been very singularly focused on a career in opera touring. I didn’t realize how much of my identity was in me being an opera singer. When covid shut everything down, there was no where to sing and I had to come home. I kept asking, what am I, who am I? I didn’t really know which way was up or down. I kind of went through a “loss of past-self” experience, in addition to losing a lot of people I’m close to, to covid and other things. This emotional reckoning threw me into a meditation practice, and I’m so blessed that it did. If you’re creating your space focusing on thoughts, you’re doing yoga. Yoga is where all of this started: improvising on sound that would come while I was meditating, listening to a deeper level of creativity that I didn’t remember I had. Yoga was 100% the driving force. The tools are what I’m trying to offer, and maybe someone will listen and be curious about it and find their own version of yoga through this.
CM: What does the title mean to you?
EK: It’s a loaded title. I love that. The nature of the statement really resonates with me. It’s a phrase from the influential book A Course In Miracles. It’s slightly ostracizing because they do say God and Jesus, but for the non-religious rather spiritual, the concepts are helpful. In the first workbook, you’re supposed to look at objects around you and say that it means nothing to you. There’s no hierarchy to the things that you see. Once you start reminding yourself that you’ve identified those objects a certain way, because its a pattern you can break, you start to see things differently and notice what’s true and actually important. Nothing I see means anything to me as long as my sight is truly clear. Challenge what we see as normal. Truth can set us free.
CM: How did you choose all the soundscapes of the record?
EK: When you chant in Sansrikt, every vowel is taking a part of your energy body to help you heal and release past traumas. I sat with every sound and word in a meditation. Nothing – I made sound on the letter n. Th. Ng. I experimented where it took me personally and found a lot of anger, resentment and rage. From there I fashioned some of those vocal loops I found into a track and then worked with one of my producers Steve with building out the darkness in it. Every single track was done in that way except for “Are you ready?” and “Wild Things” because of the esoteric nature of all of this. I want to give people an intro and outro to the intense experience. In the single I just released you can hear the sounds making “eye” – ah and ay. I separated them and the texture that we built out. I used the bells, the gongs, and in another piece I used my Tibetan singing bowls as the backbone with the vocal loops. I played ancient instruments, also cacho seeds from Peru, a shamanic instrument. The creepy, funny whisper tracks are me doing yogic breathing exercises.
CM: I loved that whimsical meditation in the middle. Thank you so much for guiding it, Elly.
EK: Everyone can use an extra shavasana in their life. Its a lot! We need a pallet cleanser, a good re-set. Shavasana is important between certain postures to allow the body to assimilate to what it learned in the postures.
CM: What are a few life lessons or esxperiences that have shaped this album?
EK: A piece of this whole project is part of me walking the walk. I really do believe the world will be a better place if we can be radically accepting of ourselves. That starts with me. If I can’t be honest, then I’m a hypocrite. For me, this project brought up a lot of reminiscing on what it was like to have grown up as a woman. I was so objectified and observed in a very specific lens for my whole life. A lot of people have struggled with that and what that does. I was very angry with how I shrunk myself or let others’ view of me to confuse me and put me on a path that wasn’t right for me. I’m more along the lines of people pleasing now, but I feel secure in only wanting to do projects that really resonate with me and I feel respected. It’s the same thing with relationships; I’ve been much more discerning coming out of this experience. The key though is my understanding of the trauma around that. As a person who has been abused on a lot of different levels, it’s only possible because I have been working on allowing myself to completely and fully feel all those feelings I need to feel around the experiences. Some of these feelings were dark (trigger warning): recognizing the truth that moments in my personal history made me want to starve myself and isolate, and that being easier than standing up for myself. I sat with that feeling all the way even though it sucked. Eventually that feeling moved and clarity came. My business now is what I’m going to do in this life. Am I going to hide or be radically accepting of absolutely everything about my life experience? So yea, to answer your question, mostly lessons around being a woman, eating disorders, feeling defined by my body, my worth being measured by how I look more than how I sing and what I have to say. Recognizing and owning them has allowed me to find a different embodiment.
CM: What do you want people to feel when they’re listening to this record?
EK: My biggest hope is that if there’s any healing to be had that it can happen. I just want to offer catharsis, and I’m so curious how it will resonate with different people.
CM: What is the greatest takeaway or overall theme of this album?
EK: Catharsis and acceptance.
CM: If you could give this album a Mantra, what would it be?
EK: Just keep going. Even though everything gets really hard, one foot in front of the other.
CM: Beautiful. The music video you released for “Are you ready?” looks like it was fun to create.
EK: It was so special. Another cool thing about the record in general, or the video, is that none of us were ever in the same room. It was all remote. Working with Jasmine creating something that you can see to go with these sounds was so fulfilling, just incredible. I went into this experience with a hope that the music would come to life in a new way outside of me. We had a lot of discovery meetings and talked about the intentions behind the writing. From there I really wanted to intuitively move and do what was right and what happened was so beautiful.
CM Will all of the rest of the music videos be like; a cohesive series or more stand alone visual pieces?
EK: We’re trying to finish the first half as an artistic installment, but they’re all sort of their own things. The record isn’t all one sound world, it’s multiple. Nothing is super dark or stormy or weird. The video that just went out, the eye video, is gentler and softer, more focused on beautiful sadness. The nest one is going to be so cool and really witchy, wearing black dresses and vibing in the woods.
CM: Thank you, Elly Kace.
You can listen to the full album at the link below. Make sure you’re somewhere cozy when you listen, so you can take full advantage of that shavasana interlude!