Hey everyone, my name is Elias Abid. I’m a 21-year-old music producer and artist based in Chicago.
How was life growing up?
Life was interesting. My dad lived in Paris and my mom, brother, and I lived in Kansas City. I would go back and forth between Paris and Kansas City to visit my family in France. I had the Midwest influence, but also the European culture mixed in as well. That shaped who I am, my music, the things I like and am attracted to.
When did you begin to witness you had creative talents?
When I was 12 my friend Quinn Cochran (Iris Temple) was starting a band and asked if I wanted to play rhythm guitar. When I turned 14, I got more into electronic hip-hop production using Garage Band on my mom’s laptop. Since then I started to work with rappers in Kansas City and developing a sound.
When did you then start to take music more seriously?
I started taking music more seriously when I was around 16. I was working with a guy named Les Paul, a rapper out of Kansas City. We started doing a lot more shows and opened up for Mac Miller, Alex Wiley, Kevin Abstract, and a few other people. For my 16th birthday, I asked for the materials to build my own home studio in the basement. I had a space and was charging people to record. That’s when the business side of things really hit me and I started to believe I could turn this into a career.
How did you first meet Miranda Govea?
My first brief interaction with her was in high school. Les Paul and I had a show opening for ShowYouSuck. Miranda Govea was managing him at the time. When I came to Chicago to attend Columbia, she was really the only person I knew in the city.
Through Miranda, you were then able to start working with Stefan Ponce.
The summer of my freshman year of college I e-mailed Miranda asking her about any internship possibilities. I sent it out on a cold call knowing that she was in the industry. I didn’t know if she had anything available but I wanted to work with her somehow. She replied back saying she just started managing Stefan Ponce and he was looking for an assistant producer. I sent a resume and cover letter and got the job. I met with Stefan and Miranda at his house and we got along. Stefan’s very lowkey, so it was a very lowkey interaction, but from there we just started working together.
How did you get involved with the people over at Classick studios? Who were you able to work with?
The first artist I worked with in Chicago was Rebecca Brunner, who also went to Columbia. Darwin from Classick Studios heard her at a Columbia show and invited her to the studio so she invited me to join. That’s when I met Darwin for the first time and got familiar with Classick Studios. I was there more frequently after linking up with Stefan.
I was primarily Stefan’s tracking engineer so everyone that he was working with I was recording or helping produce without really being the producer. I was helping with vocal coaching and arrangement because I was in control of the session. We worked with Kyle, Roy English, Eryn Allen Kane, TheMind, Julian Bell, and many others. I also worked independently with Smino, Monte Booker, and Telana which was my biggest song at the time.
Lets talk about your first project Inscribe
It’s funny because I haven’t really thought about it that much since I released the project. That project was really my first attempt at releasing music independently. This was my freshman year of college, I didn’t really have too much going on and I didn’t really know anybody besides Rebecca and Dolly. The project itself was about me entering into a new space. I used water a lot with the visuals of the project. I’ve always been attracted to water, but for me, that felt like the fluidity of transitioning into this new phase of my life. Inscribe is etching in, and I felt like that’s what I was doing with the project.
Following that, you linked up with Jabril and created a duo Abandoned Mall Arcade
I met Jabril through Matt Albin who runs Fashionably Early. I had class with Matt my Sophomore year and he was managing Jabril. The first time Jabril came to Chicago we made “Vishnu.” That music was a lot more aggressive and heavy, but that was Jabril’s energy at the time. That energy really inspired the music we were making.
When it comes to your music, it seems like you always make music with good friends of yours. One of your closest friends now would be Appleby. How did that connection come about?
I was working on a pitch for a Super Bowl Jeep commercial with Iris Temple, Anthony White, and Darwin at Classick Studios. Appleby walked in and as soon as he heard Aura rapping he asked if he was from the UK because he thought he had a British accent. I had only had one encounter with him before and it was at a Classick Fam interview with Mama Sims. Appleby ended up hanging around for a bit and then we decided to get a session together.
Through just that brief interaction, how did you and Appleby then come together to create Down Dance?
Shortly after meeting Appleby, he went on a trip to LA to meet with his manager, Amir. I basically told Appleby, “next time you go out there, let me know, I’ll come out.” Two days later, I ended up going to LA to meet with Appleby and Amir to work. By no means did we have any idea we would create a project, we just started working on songs together. We made a lot. The sound of the EP evolved a little bit as we worked but there was never a clear idea of what we were going to make. It was all about experimentation and that’s why the EP sounds the way it does. The songs kinda fit together but there’s not a super cohesive line of like ‘this is the sound.’ Down Dance was a moment for Appleby to explore himself as an artist because he never had someone to work with. He never had someone to make songs with him. This was his opportunity to find out what his sound was and we’re still to this day developing that sound.
One thing I know people have been dying to know is, what happened to putting out Re:set with Chai?
We started working on this project together on February 14th, 2015. The first session we got together we made the first song off the project called ‘Dreamscape’. At that point we were just friends working together but the more we worked on it we started building a more personal connection as artists and friends. That developed as the project developed and kind of steered the project in a certain direction, being the inspiration behind the music itself at the time. Fast forward several months, we finished the project, it was mixed, and ready to go. We dropping the first single “About Me” and had some offers come in from different indie labels. We had a team suggesting we should drop the project in springtime. After January rolled out, and spring started to approach, nobody was responding. A lot of the opportunities we had were dwindling away and people were wondering where the project was. During this time, other opportunities started coming up for me personally, including my work with Appleby, and Crystal left for South Korea to compete in the K Pop Star competition. She was gone for 7-8 months competing and ended up winning the entire show, getting a record deal. So much was going on and we felt like it just wasn’t the right time to release. Finally we are both at a point where we feel like this is the time to release “re:set.”
When it comes to your music and who you collab with, you tend to work with a ton of your friends. Ranging from Jaro, Beach Jesus, Iris Temple, etc. Do you feel like you and your friends often get overlooked in Chicago’s music scene?
I’ve thought about it before as well. I think not being from Chicago has an effect on that. I think the Beach Jesus guys are all from Chicago, but their music was so different, it didn’t fit with the sound of Chicago hip-hop. Jaro is still steadily releasing new music and doing well. I believe that not being from here makes the biggest difference. I didn’t grow up with the people that are in ‘the scene.’ That being said, I was working with Stefan and became very familiar with most people here in the industry. I think the music can be overlooked based on social clout because whom you’re around tends to makes a difference on how you’re being perceived. That’s not just Chicago though, that’s everywhere. I think our group of friends and the people that have supported us are able to do everything we need to do, and are successful doing it, because we help each other.
Lets talk about your influence of electronic sound for a bit. Did that come from your Paris upbringing?
I think that sound came later on as I was developing more into the artist that I am today. Before, I was doing strictly doing hip-hop. When I was in Paris, my brother and I would skateboard all the time and I wasn’t paying as much attention to the music but I feel like the cultural surrounding did influence my taste and inspiration in art in general.
5 years ago you tweeted, “I think I’m finally starting to find my own unique music style. Its funny how long it can take for it to click” Do you think you’ve finally come around to finding your style?
I think what’s interesting about this question, because I’ve been a music producer for the majority of what I’ve done, is that I’ve been helping other people develop their own sound. I feel like that’s my job. With Appleby, It’s my music, but it’s his vision for what the music should be because I can be versatile. And as a producer you have to be versatile. I think it’s important to differentiate the two ideas of being a producer. There’s the beat-maker producer and then there’s the music/record producer. Going between those two definitions and providing that service for other people, not necessarily for myself, I don’t know if I’ve developed a sound that represents Elias Abid 100%, but I’m working on it. That’s where I’m at now moving forward because I’m thinking more about what is that sound. Basically what I’ve come down to for the time being is, whatever I make is my sound, because why shouldn’t it be? I made it. Why do I need to be defined by ‘he’s this or this’? I think that being in 2017, nobody expects you to just be one thing. I think that my sound is whatever I want to do.
This is the question of manifestation, if you could work with three artists, who would they be?
Off top I would say, The XX, Coldplay, and Lou Reed.
When it’s all said and done how would you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as someone that cared about the people around him, someone that loved what he was doing and did the best he could do.
Written by: Nico Rud