London-based electro-pop maker ETAN drew on her own experience of being told she would never run again to write new single ‘Feels Like Running’. A collaboration with double Paralympian and GB sprinter Julie Rogers, ETAN wrote the song as a tribute to the resilience of the human body and a love song to her leg as she has continued to both run and pursue her music career since her life-threatening injury in a car accident. We chatted to ETAN to learn more.
I make electro-pop, and sometimes I draw inspirations from synthpop, synthwave, alt-pop and art-pop. I love drum machines and I think synths have a soul.
First up, tell us about yourself - what got you into music?
My family got me into music, I come from a very artistic family. I’m the third generation of musicians from my Dad’s side and my Mother is an actress. I started my formal classical training at the age of five, and started writing songs when I was about 14. Gradually, I found myself drawn to electronic music and that is what got me into producing.
Were there any particular artists or groups you took inspiration from?
I am a huge fan of artists that treat music as another narrative, and pay attentions to detail and use sound design to amplify an emotion or a vision in a song. So artists like Bjork, Bon Iver, and James Blake inspired me a lot.
However, there is nothing like having a good cry when you hear a song you connect with, or suddenly feeling like everything will be alright when you hear something that uplifts you exactly at the right place and time. So artists like LCD Soundsystem, Eurythmics, Kate Bush, Robyn, Goldfrapp and Bat for Lashes inspire me to go all the way with my artistic meaning and not be afraid to be “too much”.
ETAN is my name :-) My parents are from Tel-Aviv, and they found it easy to pronounce when I was born here in London. They also liked the meaning - apparently it’s a flower that is used in ceremonies in Fiji, and it symbolises femininity and fertility. Even though it’s a rare name and it’s not making my life as easy as my parent’s thought at the time, I love the meaning and I feel it represents me very well.
How would you describe your musical style?
I’d say I make electro-pop, and sometimes I draw inspirations from synthpop, synthwave, alt-pop and art-pop. I love drum machines and I think synths have a soul.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
I would love to collaborate with Bon Iver, James Blake and Georgia! she’s amazing.
Tell us about your new single ‘Feels Like Running’. How did this collaboration with double Paralympian and GB sprinter Julie Rogers come about?
Feels Like Running was written as a love song for my leg. I had a very big car accident few years ago and I was very severely injured and almost died. I loved running before my accident but I smashed my leg and had to go through multiple operations and a long rehab, so it was very clear that I could never run again.
About two years ago I started dreaming about running, and after a few random tries, and consulting my therapists, I decided to give it a go. It was very difficult at first and it made me rebuild the relationship with my body. I had to find new ways to be compassionate towards myself, and it made me appreciate all the hard work my body has done for me, even when I was angry and resentful towards it. The image of a blade runner came to me almost straight away, and then I started searching for the one that would be right for my video.
The search took a while, but then I finally came across Julie’s Instagram, I emailed her, and just really hoped she’ll reply. Luckily she did, and I found she wasn’t just an amazing athlete but also a lovely, fierce and beautiful human being.
When did you write it and where did you record it?
In the summer, I like to do writing sessions in the park. ‘Feels Like Running’ was written in one of these sessions, and oddly enough right by a running track. So you could say the idea for the video and location came to me while writing the song.
I recorded a demo at my studio the minute I got home, but I felt like I needed someone to help me execute this in a way that was right for the song, since I was obviously very emotionally attached to it. So I sent it over to Harry Tarlton, who’s an amazing producer, and he managed to create a really special track that is cool and profound at the same time. It’s uplifting but it’s not shallow, if that makes sense.
There are layers in the music that create a lot of emotion and that’s what I love about this track. I recorded the vocals at my studio, and Harry did his magic at his.
How does ‘Feels Like Running’ represent your style?
The songs starts with a long string intro, that both Harry and I felt represents my life before the accident. Strings and Orchestras were a huge thing in my upbringing, and it was a really personal touch to add to the track. After the strings, this 80’s beat comes in and take it into this world of 80’s high school movies, very Stranger Things if you like, this is a sound palette I use a lot in my music, because there’s something in old school electropop that allows you to express emotion in a non cynical way. You can really “feel” it. No apologies, no judgment.
What are your hopes for ‘Feels Like Running’?
I’m hoping ‘Feels Like Running’ will reach the people that need to hear it, because I think it has a message that is worth sharing. The song evolved from my personal journey and struggles, but it quickly became a metaphor for so many other things that require persistence and stamina, knowing the only way to support the process is by being compassionate towards yourself.
Taking breaks, practising self love and working on a body positive approach might seems like a privilege at times, but I find they are actually crucial for giving yourself an honest chance to reach your goals in life. Of course I’d like people to not only relate to the message, but to enjoy the song, the beat and the video as well.
How’s the rest of 2021 looking for you?
2021 is looking busy for me! I have three songs and two videos up my sleeve that will be released in the coming months, and I’m planning to release new music every six to eight weeks after that, and continue to create videos and visuals constantly as well.
Right now 2021 doesn’t seem easier than 2020 in terms of playing live in front of an audience rather than lives on Instagram, but I’m very keen to make the most of this year despite the hardships it brings with it. So you’ll be hearing a lot from me in the coming months.
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
I’d tell myself to always listen to my gut, to exchange fear with curiosity. As an independent artist I also think it’s important to make sure things are working for you, rather than the opposite.
It’s very easy to get caught up in trends and there are a lot of temptations out there, and these things are dangerous because they don’t always work and that leads to a lot of discouragement. Do your research, and correct yourself along the way, when the only thing that should matter is if your approach evolves into favourable results. I find pausing and reassessing is necessary in every aspect of being an artist- be it creative, administrative or in the way you handle your business.
Lastly, I’d tell myself to always think five steps ahead, and put your mental health as top priority. Sometimes I wish I would have told myself these things when I decided I want to be a full time artist, but I think it’s something that can sink in mainly through experience, and it’s really important to make mistakes. So I just make sure to learn something from everything I do, and implement what I’ve learned in every step.
Images by Sara Lincoln.