Group Therapy with Elohim: Postponed, Not Canceled
By: Julia Hale
Earlier this month, EDM singer-songwriter-producer Elohim was supposed to perform at Concord Music Hall as part of her tour, called Group Therapy. Unfortunately, like many things this spring, her tour was put on hold due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Despite this, Chicago Music Guide was able to talk with the Los Angeles–based triple threat over the phone about her tour, mental health in general and not being a billionaire.
ELOHIM: It’s so crazy right now. Oh my gosh. At the last show in Grand Rapids I got the call right after my meet and greet that the rest of the tour was canceled. I flew home yesterday.
CMG: Do you plan on rescheduling or postponing the tour?
ELOHIM: Definitely. I would say it’s definitely postponed, not canceled. No one knows right now when things will pick up. I have festivals booked this summer, so I’m worried about that. Some people are saying shows aren’t back until the fall, but hopefully it’s only a couple months or something.
CMG: That’s great to hear, because I really like the concept of Group Therapy. Can you talk about how you came up with that name?
ELOHIM: A big message of mine has become speaking openly about mental health because of what I’ve gone through in my life, my struggles. My goal and my mission; my purpose of being an artist is to bring acceptance and understanding to the listener and [to] people around the world. It was almost unintentional. I was like, “I’m going to put out this song that I wrote about my own struggles,” and the messages I was getting were like, “I’ve never heard a song that described what I’m going through, I didn’t know anyone felt this way.”
I didn’t know that anyone felt this way [either]. Now I have this community of beautiful people that are like my genuine friends, ’cause we know what each other [are] going through. I never knew people like that. So, for me, it was like [the Group Therapy] tour was finally my headline tour and a way for all of us to come together and be together as one. A room full of love, and acceptance, and understanding.
You know, giving people the chance even to hold the mic and talk about whatever they want to talk about. Honestly, I was so emotional when we had to cancel because it’s been the most incredible, most meaningful shows and experiences of my entire life. We’ve cried at almost every show.
CMG: Wow. So, how many shows were you able to play?
ELOHIM: I did 11 shows, it was supposed to be 12, [but] another thing happened to us. We were in Nashville when the tornado happened, and our venue, the night before we were supposed to play, was completely destroyed. So it’s been a really interesting, weird time.
CMG: I hear that. So you’ve devoted much of your career to mental health advocacy. Why is that so important to you, if you’re comfortable sharing?
ELOHIM: I’m here and I’m ready to share anything people want to talk about at this point. I went from being completely anonymous, not showing my face, not talking, being too shy and too insecure and too anxious to do any of that, to now [wanting] to share this message. I want people to feel understood, to feel like they’re not alone. The truth is so many people are hurting. I didn’t know that, that’s the thing. I’ve suffered from severe, to, like, the 10th degree, anxiety disorder, panic disorder and dissociative disorder.
I’ve struggled with that since I was seven. I didn’t even know what it was, and then I put my thoughts and my feelings into these songs, and all these people started messaging me and I was able to have conversations with real people who really go through what I go through. I didn’t intend on [mental health] to be a big part of my [Braindead] project, but once I put out the song called “Xanax” a few years ago, I was like, “Oh, there are people out there that are going through this as well and they need help and they need to feel understood and not alone.”
So, I continued to write about [mental health] ’cause it’s what I genuinely feel, and it became a passion of mine, being an advocate for [mental health], because I realized that there was really a world of people that needed that. That’s why I’m passionate about it, honestly, because I’ve gone through the worst of the worst. I genuinely know what it feels like to feel completely isolated and alone in it. So, to be able to give that to other people has been the most incredible thing in my entire life and, like, my purpose for being here on earth.
CMG: That’s a huge part of why I wanted to do this interview, especially with everything. Mental health is so important. Can you talk about the hotline that you created?
ELOHIM: Well, there’s a number that people can text me at. We had done a day where we opened it up for a few hours with a real therapist. I’m obviously not a therapist, so we had a real therapist come in for a few hours and people were able to text them.[Fans] knew that I was there as well with the therapist, so I think it brought some sort of security and safety to them, as opposed to a random app that’s like “text with a therapist!” [with] no idea of who’s on the other line. So, I have a phone number that people can text directly to me, and a lot of it is social media, just talking to people all day. There’s a bunch of hotlines I guess.
CMG: I love that. That’s so cool that you text people directly, can you talk more about that?
ELOHIM: So there’s this company called Community and they brought me in, early days, to their office and they were like, “We want to do this experiment with you because we know how close you are with [fans].” So, I put up this phone number and it was just this really cool way to text directly with people on my phone. It’s so cool.
CMG: That is so cool. Not everyone would want to do something like that.
ELOHIM: It’s interesting how often I get the response, “Wow, I’ve never had a real conversation like this with an artist.” It’s so interesting, ’cause at the end of the day I’m a human being and we’re all human beings. The thing that really bums me out about the music/entertainment industry is that suddenly your song is doing well on Spotify, so you’re better than this person who’s listening to it. That bugs me. Or, the sort of inauthentic, disingenuous place that a lot of artists come from.
I see it so frequently. To me, it’s like, of course I want to make money from being an artist, of course I want to make a living.
[But] I don’t need to be a billionaire. I don’t need to be super rich. I just want to bring love and light to peoples’ lives. Every time I’d fly to do a festival, I was like, “Gosh, I just miss the Group Therapy tour so much,” and the crew would say the same thing. Everyone on tour was like, “You have the most amazing fans in the world.” I was like, “Yeah, that’s ’cause they’re my friends.” We’re all human beings and we need as much love as possible. I don’t think that there’s any tier with human beings. We’re all equal.
CMG: So you’re also involved with the JED foundation. What made you want to get involved with them specifically?
ELOHIM: I had heard of [JED] and then I put out my Braindead project, and all of the proceeds from [those] streams were going to a foundation. I hadn’t picked the foundation yet though. I did research, [and] I really connected with [JED] because it’s very youth-centric. They actually go to college campuses and they go to high schools and they meet with the janitor, they meet with the RAs at colleges, to make sure it’s a safe environment, to make sure they know the signs of somebody that’s struggling or that needs help or is suicidal.
I was already interested in working with them, and I happened to be on the road last summer and had a call with them. I was in New York with a couple of days off, [and] they were like, “Our annual gala is tomorrow, would you want to come?” I was like, “Yeah, oh my gosh, of course.” I think that was definitely the turning point. [I] was like, “I have to be involved with this organization.” These are the most amazing, kind people and they’re doing such amazing things.
CMG: According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, one out of five millennials diagnosed with depression don’t seek treatment. Some blame rises in healthcare costs. What do you think about that? Do you agree?
ELOHIM: Yeah, totally. I even don’t go [to therapy] as often as I would like to, ’cause it’s really expensive. Insurance just doesn’t really cover that stuff. There are ways to find therapists that are covered, but my therapist (and she’s absolutely amazing and changed my life), she’s just one of those ones that insurance doesn’t pay for. So, yes, I think that’s very true. I wish that there was an easier way to get therapy and that it wasn’t so expensive.
I’m curious [about] when these prices were decided, and why they got so high. I know there are organizations, too, that work to get people free therapy, but there’s so many people out there that need therapy and it can change your life. It can save your life.
CMG: Absolutely. Do you plan on getting more involved in mental health activism as your career develops?
ELOHIM: Yeah, I’m sure that will keep becoming more and more prominent in my life. JED is really the first organization that I’ve worked with, and I’m so interested and I’ve learned so much from them. I didn’t know a lot of this stuff even existed, you know, so that’s another thing for me; bringing awareness. I’ve had really emotionally meet-and-greets where people tell me that, like, their brother committed suicide and I really helped them get through it.
They don’t feel the depression, but someone they love does, so they want to get involved. On the Group Therapy tour, actually, the first night, it was like 70 people at the meet-and-greet and we did a special thing with JED. They filmed the whole thing, and one of the girls who works for JED, she did a Q&A with me and it was so emotional, I started sobbing in front of everybody. I [also] want to encourage people to get involved with [JED]. It makes you just feel better.
CMG: That’s awesome. I look forward to the rescheduling of the Chicago show, hopefully this Corona crisis is handled soon. What do you think about the panic surrounding the virus?
ELOHIM: I don’t even know. It’s so crazy that I’m like, “How is this even real?” This just feels fake, this feels like a movie. I personally don’t know anyone with Corona, but there’s other aspects of it, too; companies are losing billions of dollars, the markets [are] being sold out of everything. I think social media, the news, it just makes people really panic. It’s better to be logical right now than to be buying into the sensationalization.
CMG: Agreed. Is there anything else that you want to add?
ELOHIM: I just want people to know that I’m here and willing to have conversations. I want people to know that they’re not alone and we’re not alone and it’s a crazy time but we’re all in this together. And I can’t wait to be back in Chicago, I was looking forward to the Chicago show for so long. It would’ve been my first headlining show in Chicago, but I know that we’re going to be able to reschedule it to come back bigger and better than ever.
CMG: Thank you very much for your time and stay healthy!