Eliphosys is a Colorado-based producer making downtempo melodic beats accompanied by intricate and beautiful visuals. She released her latest track – As Light Breaks – just a few days ago. I had a chance to speak with her recently about her work and her approach to it. That conversation is below, condensed and edited for clarity.
Your work is so visual-forward. How did you get into videography and animation?
Originally I wanted to major in music, but I was burned out on music at the time, and had no idea what I wanted to do. I met a friend who was into video production, and it just looked so cool. I took a basic video production class, and I was immediately hooked.
During my study, I did an internship, and met an animator, and the idea of animation just blew my mind. I went on to work at an ad agency, and in broadcast news. I also took a little detour into apparel design. All these things inform my creative process.
I’ve been doing freelance motion graphics and editing for about 6 years now. I work on a huge variety of projects for clients.
How did you find yourself burned out on music so early in your life?
In school, I was a major band geek…I started playing saxophone in sixth grade. I hung out with other band kids, and my social life became all about band and music. As I was graduating high school, but it was getting overwhelming for me.
I thought I wanted to play professionally in an orchestra or some other kind of ensemble, and I realized as I was starting to plan for auditions for this sort of thing, that basically I would have to wait for someone to die to get a seat in an orchestra, and I started questioning whether I wanted that to be my career.
I didn’t do any recording or composing then – I studied theory, but composition didn’t come easily to me. I didn’t really consider the idea of making music on my own until much later.
How did you find yourself coming back to music?
in 2018 and 2019, I was starting to feel less inspired by my visual design work for clients, and wanted to try something different. I went to school to study massage therapy. I was really interested in the spiritual aspects of massage, and in working with my hands – I wanted to work with people in deeper way. I finished studying, and was launching my practice – I actually rented a massage studio in March of 2020…and then COVID. I don’t know what massage will look like for me in the future, but it’s not happening right now.
I was processing that reality and trying to figure out what to do next. I don’t know how the idea came to me, but I started experimenting with making ambient music. I wanted to incorporate the relaxation aspect that I was bringing into my massage practice, and translate that into music and visuals that would help people ground themselves. And actually, I was making the thing that I needed to feel relaxed in these crazy times.
I wanted to use my creativity to support people’s inward process, and to uplift and settle people, and I used my own needs to guide that process.
So the visual component was part of the original idea?
It really was – it gave me the opportunity to do something new in music production, which stimulated my creativity in my visual work. The fact that it was my own self-guided project felt really freeing. It drew on my philosophical motivations. The combination of all these things really set me free, and made me realize that I could go further with my visuals this way.
Were you doing other creative visuals…I mean, not for clients?
A little – I made a video to tell the story of art project of mine called Geometric Alchemy, which is about sacred geometry and embroidery. I made some promotional materials for my massage practice, and some abstract digital art, but nothing that inspired me to keep going with any of those projects.
There are two levels to creativity: technical skill and vision. These two things need to be developed together. My vision for the Eliphosys project was strong, and it exceeded my technical capabilities. I had to learn a lot to make the music I was hearing in my mind, and for whatever reason all that learning made me really inspired to push the boundaries of my video making skills. All the different parts of the project really feed on each other. I was so inspired that, for a little while, I was making a video literally every day, until I realized that that wasn’t sustainable.
How much of the therapeutic aspect of the project for you was about the music and visuals, and how much was about getting deeper into your own creative process and the satisfaction from that?
It was very much about both – the project was something I could throw myself into, and work on for hours and days at a time. I was able to really drop into a creative flow state, which made a huge positive impact on my mental condition. At the same time, I was getting feedback from others that the material was really helping them meditate, and to be calm. I got a lot of appreciation from those people – that was really satisfying as well, and motivated me to do more.
It was really clear to me that was I was making was different from what was available – there are ‘relaxation’ videos that were often just shots of rolling waves, and on the other end of the spectrum just crazy psychedelic videos, but I wanted something in between those, and it turns out that others also wanted and appreciated that.
When I work on my material, I’m in a good head space, and in a good heart space. My creative process is meditative for me. I truly believe that the energy of the creator ends up in the creative output.
Where does the name Eliphosys come from?
Eliphosys is the third identity for this process, but it’s the one that’s sticking. I was making ambient music under the name Big G, but I’ve been moving more from ambient music and into melodic beat making. The music I’m making now is downtempo, with a beat, and warm lush sounds, but it’s still coming from that place of wanting to give people a way to ground themselves.
The name Eliphosys comes from three Greek words: Eli is the defender of man, ‘pho’ is sound and vision – like phone, ‘sys’ is the root of ‘system’ – the synthesis. I was trying to name the project for a while and wasn’t coming up with the right name. And then Eliphosys came to me in a dream state as I was drifting off one night. I wrote it down, and when I was awake I had to break the word down into its parts so I could understand it.
Do you think you’ll go back to making more ambient music again?
I might, especially now that I’ve gone much further with my technical skills in sound design and production.
How did you find IMF?
When I started working on music, I knew that I wanted to share it with people. I was sort of halfheartedly posting my songs on different subreddits, but I wasn’t getting much response. And I realized that there must be a place that I can go to give and receive feedback. That was my primary motivation for finding and joining IMF. I know that I have a long way to go on my creative journey, and I wanted to get to know people with a similar mindset.
My experience in IMF is really exceeding my expectations. Live Community Reviews are one of my favorite things here. People are really insightful and concise with their feedback, and really positive in the way they deliver it, and I haven’t found that experience elsewhere.
How do you feel about exploring video creation in the IMF community? Seems like you’re one of many, and that more people are talking about video with each other.
I did Video Music Mayhem last month, and it was super fun! It was a lot like Live Community Review for me, in that everyone was able to share their creativity in a really uninhibited way…a supportive way. I was especially impressed with T Rex’s experimentation with stop motion animation – it was really sweet and fun.
Where are you in your learning and creative process? What are you focusing on now?
The word I want to use to guide my ongoing creativity is ‘effortless’. I want to follow my intuition, and only do what feels right, not necessarily do the thing that I think I ‘should’ do, or that other people say I ought to do. The energetic quality of effortlessness is really important to me, because I feel strongly that it needs to come through in my work.
Is that something you’re doing in response to feeling creatively burned out before?
When I’m working with clients, I have to follow a structured process, and do a lot of planning and communication, which is necessary, but also takes a lot of effort.
I was really struck by your post when I was working through a marketing checklist for my first Spotify release, and was really trying to build and sustain hype around the track. And it felt really unnatural to me, and hard. And I realized that I didn’t want to do that anymore. It’s kind of a rushing current that you can get swept up in, and if you’re not in the current, there’s this idea that maybe you’re not doing the right thing, or not doing enough.
I’m still nailing down the ‘why’ for my personal creativity. I know that I want to help people through my music. I know that I really love getting feedback about my music. I know that if I could make money doing something that feels effortless, that would be great.
You mentioned that you read my original blog post in this series, and that it stuck with you…what resonated in that piece for you?
I was really attracted to the idea of opting out of the pressure of turning your project into something you didn’t want it to be. That was striking, and it’s hard to do – to set your own course. It was really inspiring for me.
I wrote that piece partly because following my own advice is hard for me. I have to constantly remind myself to pay attention to my energy and level of frustration. I don’t always get it right.
The quality of interaction is the thing, not the quantity.
What do you hope to do with your music as you keep creating?
I really want to be able to perform at some point. I want to have that kind of relationship with listeners that get to know me, and that develops over time. The thing I appreciate about playing in high school band is the relationships we built with each other, and with each others’ families. To have my family hear me practicing something, and then come hear what my part sounded like in the context of the ensemble and the piece. And the excitement I felt from people really made a lasting impression on me.
What’s the thing you’re proudest of?
My favorite is probably a song and video I released last September, called Elevation Gain. It was my first longer electronic song, and the video has all these different levels and worlds in it. That’s probably the thing I spent the most time and energy making. I think it tells a really solid story, and I really enjoy watching it.
I’m really pleased with the end result. It came out exactly how I imagined. I wouldn’t change anything about it. I guess that’s how I know that something is done – when I don’t feel the need to change anything about it.
I’m excited to see where this whole thing goes. I don’t know where I’m headed, or if I have an end goal. I realized in the past couple months that I don’t need to rush to get anywhere. At this point, it’s about enjoying where I’m at, and not really trying. It’s more about allowing.