Premiere: EZA Releases New EP 'Dead Reckoning'

Premiere: EZA Releases New EP 'Dead Reckoning'

Ellery Bonham offers insight into the events and inspirations that led to her new EP.

Ellery Bonham offers insight into the events and inspirations that led to her new EP.

Text: Ian David Monroe

Today, Nashville-based recording artist Ellery Bonham, aka EZA, releases her latest EP, Dead Reckoning. The collection of tracks comes as a follow up to her 2014 debut Means of Escape, and similarly follows its predecessor’s penchant for brooding electronica. From the first listen, it’s obvious that in the two years since, the singer has come a long way.

Here, Bonham sharpens her lyrical writing, painting stronger pictures with fewer words, which in turn gives her a more mass appeal without losing her edge. “Alive” may be her newest song, but it’s also her strongest. It isn’t hard to imagine the track playing on major radio, especially as dark pop pioneers slowly infiltrate the masses.

Below, she talks through the creation of Dead Reckoning, which premieres exclusively on V, finding confidence her voice, and the literature that inspires her.

On overcoming self-doubt:

EB There’s a joke that a lot of artists make about how we still don’t understand how we write our next song. For some reason, every time still feels like the first, and if it’s a really good one, it feels like our last. That’s almost how I felt going into this record. I knew after releasing my first EP in 2014 that my next steps would indicate how cut out I was for this industry. A lot of amateurs, myself included at the time, can come up with three or four good original songs, but after that, then what? Could we still do it? Or more, can we learn, grow, and outdo ourselves the next time? That was a huge hurdle before I started writing these songs. I knew I had it in me, but I had no idea what these songs were yet, or how they would fit together for this next record. Luckily, the first song that made this EP was “Off the Record,” which I wrote with two fellow friends and artists in town Young Brother and Ruslan Odnoralov.

On finding the magic touch:

EB We knew we were onto something our first day, and with the help of my producer Aaron Krause, that song became the standard for this next project. Lyrically, melodically, and by its quality, it was so much richer than anything I’d released before. I knew that this song had set the bar high for the others, and that gave me the confidence to finish out the rest of the songs on the EP with the same confidence and vigilance.

On working well with others:

EB The rest of the songs on the EP were co-written with other artists/producers in town, which gave me the chance to explore ideas from a handful of people whose input I truly respected. The demos I then gave to Aaron were strong on their own, but Aaron took them to an entirely new level.

On pushing limits:

EB I was certainly pushed to my artistic boundaries making this record, and I have a lot of people to thank for that, but Aaron was definitely the one who kept showing me why it was so worth it. I’d never killed so many “darlings” as William Faulkner would say, and stuck around to see how much better a song could get with enough TLC. Aaron truly was the difference between this project being a “good, cool EP” and a real form of art. I am wildly indebted to him for his ideas and unwillingness to settle. Working with him truly made me a better artist by the end.

On literary inspiration:

EB I titled this EP Dead Reckoning while reading Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly. In it, she talks about looking at your past to determine how you got to your present. The idea stuck with me because I was writing these songs with that same perspective. “Alive” is a redemption song for me, one that I never got a chance to write after Means of Escape. Putting that song on this record, followed by the journey of finding love in the relationship I’m in now, was exactly the story I wanted to tell.

On her collaborators:

EB I’m so proud of the people who helped carry out my vision for this project and I couldn’t be more excited to share this with listeners. For the first time in my career I really feel like I’ve brought something new to the table and I can’t wait to start writing part two.

Credits: Cover image photographed by David O'Donohue

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