“I Can’t Help the Whiny Emo in Me” – Efficax Interviewed

Elle Gilliam has had ‘the feels’ mastered for a long time now. A proven guru of cerebral boo-hoo anthems. She was first mentioned on Necessary Evil when I declared the sublime song Novel by her previous project Helltown as one of the best songs of the first half of 2019 that you might not have heard. Dudes, it’s been more than three and a half years since then, if you still haven’t heard it, then I think you might be past saving, seriously. And the name of that surrounding Helltown album, ‘Picture Perfect Depression’ really describes the music that she absolutely perfected with the project: incisive and often devastating explorations of her own personal demons set to absolutely pristine (initially) acoustic gorgeousness.

Midway through 2022, Elle contacted me personally on twitter.com to inform me that she had retired the Helltown moniker and was now launching a new musical project under the ‘Efficax‘ alias. I made a really funny joke about this when the collection of Efficax singles/demos that I completely made up reached #39 on the best albums of 2022 list. I’m not going to repeat it, you had to be there. Oh, and that album kind of exists now? We’ll get into it. Of course, after I went to try trouble of making that album, she then released her actual debut album, ‘Destroyer‘, in late 2022, because she has no respect for what I do. Don’t worry, I’ve forgiven her now. I’ll never forget what she did to me, but I’ve forgiven her.

Changing musical projects wasn’t the only major adjustment that Elle had gone through recently. No spoilers, but check the pronouns on those Helltown reviews. I was, obviously, desperate to interview her, and said so in my Efficax review (“if you don’t see an interview with Efficax sometime early next year it means she hates me and by extension everyone reading this”). Luckily, Elle is obviously vulnerable to emotional blackmail, so agreed.

Fair warning, this interview goes to places. Remember how Elle is so good at articulating her emotional self through her lyrics and music? Yeah, turns out she’s really good at that in her normal voice as well.

wanna tell you all the things i’ve done

“Until They Smash the Manmade Order of Things, Race Having No Meaning Won’t be a Possibility” – mynameisblueskye Interview

Boston’s mynameisblueskye can often seem a little… daunting.

And I don’t just mean his extensive and creatively rich discography. Since releasing his first music back in 2010, Skye has rafted dozens of albums, EPs, artistic projects and other ventures, dedicated to exploring the limits and potential of his own art. Even the partial catalogue available on his BandCamp page presents a vivid kaleidoscope of lucid cover art and arresting titles. Guy once released a record called Diary of a Pretty Corpse. Dude is metal as fuck. And all this is before you even listen to his music, which is often the sound of black holes collapsing in on themselves but expressed through the smallest rocks in the galaxy crashing together. You could probably describe mynameisblueskye as ‘lo-fi’, but this is often less a stylistic choice and more a necessity of his real world constraints. He manages to create magic using just a few keyboards and a laptop. But only because he has to. If you offered him a forty eight piece orchestra and the St Winifred’s School Choir, he’d sure as hell use them.

No, interviewing mynameisblueskye also felt a little daunting to me. I know very little about the guy personally, but from following his dedicated release schedule for maybe four years since being introduced to his world through a Z Tapes compilation, and from following his frequent incisive Tweets… I kinda got the impression.. that he’s a really smart guy

mynameisblueskye straddles the black, LGBT, autistic and creative arts communities, seems to have a deep understanding and respect for all of them and is able to consume and analyse the culture of all the communities he intersects. And he isn’t an artist worried his music might be ‘too political’. He’s always aware of big issues and always has the confidence to take them on. Even that song which I glibly described as having a ‘metal as fuck’ title is actually about the state murder of black people and how people often only care when they’re presented with a body: “Diary of a Pretty Corpse is about feeling like a black life that doesn’t really get his due in the world until he was dead, and when he does die by the hand of cruel people, they get the audacity to rule it as something dark as a suicide.”

See? How dumb am I going to look asking him about superheroes and professional wrestling? He even knows far more than me about music, any interview could be a bloodbath.

Still, the release of ‘One Last Look’ – a collection of rarities and songs recorded for various compilations over the past five years – gave me an opportunity to reach out, a chance to get a quick idea of how the world looks through mynameisblueske’s eyes. The interview went to some truly fascinating areas, and Skye really stepped up to nail and then elaborate on each question. He was a fantastic interviewee, and after reading this you owe it to yourself to investigate one of our most singular artists further. And have you seen that back catalogue? Best get started…

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