Elise Trouw: Versatility of an instrument is important to me

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Elise Trouw | photo by Jack Lue

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 11 – Spring 2020 – SoCal Inspired

Often labeled innovative and distinctive, Elise Trouw’s music is unique and refreshing to encounter. Trouw’s vast catalog of musical influences, matched with her undeniable talent on the drums, bass, guitar, and piano, mark her as an extremely impressive musician whose individuality is what keeps audiences coming back for more.

Known for her live looping performances, Trouw has done music video mashups for “Radiohead Meets The Police” and “Foo Fighters Meets 70’s Bobby Caldwell,” performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, released music and videos, and has made numerous NAMM appearances — most recently in an Up-Close and Personal interview with Steve Baltin where she discussed her use of mixing live instrumentation and electronic music through live looping to create her one-woman show.

Trouw met with us shortly before her interview with Steve to chat about her time at NAMM, her live performances, and more.

Hey, everyone. Alex Windsor here with Guitar Girl Magazine. I am here with the super amazingly talented Elise Trouw. Elise, how are you doing today? How are you enjoying your time here at NAMM?

I’m doing great. I love going to NAMM every year. I always get to meet up with friends and see all the cool stuff, so it’s been exciting.

Have you had a chance to check out any shows or any gear? Anything that you’re really excited about that’s here?

Yeah. I stopped by the Korg booth and saw their new SV-2, which is really cool. I’m a big fan of the SV-1 keyboard, so it was cool to check it out.

What type of gear do you use in your live shows?

For all my live shows, my setup is drums, bass, guitar, and keys. I like to find instruments that, because I do live looping, instruments that I can kind of have a variety of sounds on. So the versatility of an instrument is important to me, and just a good, natural sound is what I like. Also, keyboards that have a lot of versatility, because, in my live sets, I do looping. So having different sounds coming in and out is a big part of the music.

How did you get into the looping aspect? I mean, obviously, that’s very common with a lot of artists these days. I mean, really, when do you feel like your videos and your style of shooting your videos that are very common on Instagram — by the way, if you’re not already following Elise on Instagram, you definitely need to check out her page — it’s very inspiring. It’s very awesome. So when do you feel like that really took off for you?
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Well, I got into live looping mainly for the live aspect, because I was working with a band but couldn’t afford to go on tour with them at the time. So I just kind of started live looping, doing track stuff live, and then made a video of that and posted that on YouTube. But I guess years before that, I’d been posting a lot of drum covers and drum videos on Instagram and started kind of building a following that way. And then, I released an album and more of my artist project. I’ve kind of just built it from there.

So your writing process? What approach do you take when you sit down to write a new song?

I like to either start on the keyboard or the drums. I just feel very comfortable on the keys because I’ve been playing since I was 5 or 6. And for drums, lately, I’ve been starting with a drum beat and then writing on top of that just because I feel like there’s a really cool, solid foundation in the drumbeat. The rest kind of is more inspiring to me.

When you are playing live, is there a different approach that you take when you’re on stage and performing versus in a studio or filming a video? How does that change in a live setting?

My live show is pretty similar to my live looping videos. I do incorporate some tracks for certain songs to keep the energy. I also use an SPD-SX for looping. For a while, I was actually looping the live drums, but there was kind of a delay, so the audience would hear this sloppy kind of sound when I was playing and looping it, and so I ended up starting to loop with the SPD-SX. But other than that, it’s pretty similar to what you see online in my videos.

Very cool. Now, which instrument did you actually start off learning?

I had classical training on the piano when I was 5 or 6, and then picked up the drums when I was 9. That kind of took over and became my primary instrument. And I picked up guitar and bass around the same time but really didn’t put as much time into them as I did on drums.

Who are some of your main influences as an artist?

My favorite drummer is Stewart Copeland from The Police because he’s very artistic and just inspiring. When you see videos of him live, it’s just always something different. He’s very spontaneous. And I also love the band Little Dragon. I like their melodies and production.

I’m not familiar with them, but I’ll have to check it out.

Oh, cool, yeah. They’re my favorite.

Just the melody is the main reason why you’re a huge fan of them?

Yeah. And also, the lead singer, just her voice is very unique to me. I like singers that use kind of a lot of different parts of their voice. She’ll sing really high and really low at different volumes. Just very dynamic, and so I strive to be like that. 

So what does 2020 have in store for you? What are some things that we can look forward to from you?

I released a video and a single in December, and I have a couple more that I’m recording and shooting this month. So they’ll be released in a series throughout the next couple of months.

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