Elliot Fox is the pink-haired solo act who came in third place for this year’s Farmers Ball. You probably saw Fox both on the live stream and with their custom Minecraft skin in the server.
Here is a selection of our conversation with Elliot Fox.
I’m happy to see that you placed Elliot!
I’m happy too, but you know, making it into finals was already something that was completely foreign to me. I don’t know how to feel about everything in general. So thank you very much.
You guys seriously put on something that I you know, I had no idea what it was going to be like. I’d always gone to the Farmers Balls of the past and had you know, had fun there. It was so weird, not having it last year and then saying it’s gonna be on Minecraft, and I was like, okay, like the Fortnight stuff? How’s it going to work and it worked really well. So I really enjoyed everything about it this year.
Yeah, it was weird not having it last year for sure. So you got super into the whole Minecraft universe. Were you into Minecraft beforehand? Or did you just get into it for this?
I had played Minecraft. Good Lord, how old is that thing? Because I remember playing Minecraft in college when it was way back and like, whatever. So I already dabbled like, once. Every few months I jump into Minecraft and do the whole like, let’s see what this is about. I had never touched you know, anything in terms of like creating Minecraft skins or anything like that. It’s apparently super easy. I never thought I’d do something like this. Normally, it was just the, you know, play for a few days, see an Enderman and then go to bed.
Tell me a little bit about creating your skin. I think you’re the only one who did that.
Well, so it all started on Google, obviously. I went and looked it up and I just kind of figured out that I didn’t even know how they were formatted, but apparently, they’re just PNG files. So I looked up a bunch of stuff on how you can make them and you know how to import them into Minecraft and like what version of Minecraft they have to be imported into, which is another thing. And then found a few sites with a few reference files of them and then just sort of went to work. I could have done it way easier. There are some programs that let you see a 3D model of it, but I just went in there and poked at all the PNG files and then it came out okay!
Tell me tell me about your music: how long you’ve been doing it, when Elliot Fox became…
So it became I want to say like 2015, 2016 was when it first started to form. Originally it was this idea of this cooler person than me. There’s me, who’s you know, here, and then there was like the cool one who could do all these cool things. I had been doing music for most of my life, I played trumpet and bass, and I have touched a piano (I’m sort of selling myself short on that one). Then that kind of spurred into you know… Electronic music for me was kind of a big deal. It actually started for me, with the Killers for some weird reason. They had a synthesizer in Mr. Brightside and I was like, synthesizers? What are these and then that kind of spurred into this whole thing.
But it started as this like, cooler version of me that could do these cool shows and was super personable, and was able to go and have fun. And then, as years went on, I could just be that person, you know, I could just sort of merge those two together. So a lot of the themes of the music comes from that. These hyper personalized emotions and hyper personalized stories that have been super condensed into their Vegas forms. That way, it’s not like: here’s a story about when I crashed my car, it’s like, here’s a wide range of emotions about being in an accident, and you’re like, okay, I can kind of vibe with that. And then also, here’s a kick drum; now we can dance to it. And then over the past two years, it kind of grew into more of a real personality. Seeing that like this cooler version of myself; I can just incorporate that into my life, and be able to really become comfortable with who I am and focus more on being a happier person.
How have you been performing around Lawrence? Is this your first gig? If you want to call it that?
Yeah, it’s a gig. Well, who knows, at this point, everything is a gig. I played around Lawrence for a bit. Not super large stuff, that was still kind of feeling it out. The music for me was always there, but I wasn’t quite caught up to it personally. Because the first real album I’d put out was super about myself and how I felt at that time, and still do to some extent. I had premonitioned myself into this version of like, here’s a bunch of songs about myself. Being able to do that was like telling my future self, “Hey, you know, you can you can do this. And it’s super cool, and you can be comfortable with who you are.”
Do we have albums out on streaming?
I have stuff on streaming. I have things on Spotify, and the Bandcamp and some other platforms I’ve never heard of. I don’t know what a Deezer is, but I’m there I guess.
Where has your music lived? In what space? Are you tracking demos all the time? Do you have a hard drive full of stuff?
The music, where it lives, is a lot of scratch tracks and 16 bars that just kind of go nowhere. And they live on a hard drive; they live on several hard drives.
Sometimes it just sort of happens. I sit there and I’ve got a melody and it just goes and it’s one night and we’re basically done, it just has to be engineered. Sometimes it’s a year of having a half-complete song, kind of sitting there, and then going back to it a year later and being like, “well this works, this doesn’t.” The other thing is it’s just. I write and record and master all of it. So a lot of that comes to how I feel about it and how I think it sounds. And there have been plenty of tracks that I’ve just completely dumpstered because I think they sound great. I think they are mechanically really good, and they’re mastered all right, but something’s not right about it and I don’t know how to fix it. And that’s been the past year.
So when you’re working on all this, do you have like a home studio setup? Spatially, where are you at?
My live setup is all out of just an iPad that’s running backing tracks, that’s running the synthesizers. It’s a workhorse. And when I set that up, I realized that it doesn’t mean I can just do live shows; I can do a whole set-up, like a studio setup. So it’s pretty much wherever I want to put it.
Obviously, when I’m doing vocals or something that’s like an actual field hot recordings, that’s going to be in a place like the library. Or my sunroom is shockingly soundproof. I have recorded things just in a car, or just kind of around the house. If I really want to get super DIY, you go in the bathroom and hang a microphone up there, like, here’s some reverb, and it’s pretty cool.
I’ll think of a melody and then hammer it out on my phone sometimes. and then I’ll come home and, in theory, the idea is I’ll take that melody, and then bring it into logic, and then a new song forms. But nine times out of ten, I come home and go what is this? And into the dumpster it goes, or it’ll eventually be fished out at some point.
How has being able to have the creative outlet of your music, helped you cope with the pandemic?
So the beginning of the pandemic, like the very, very beginning, I had already started writing. I had been experimenting with different sounds, and I had this handful of songs that I was going to release as an EP and just kind of roll with it there. So right when locked down happened, I had had this high of having [my] birthday and then I’m just living alone and locked down. So I had these songs, and then a lot of them were about getting older and coping with that. Then I was like, okay, well, I’m stuck here. I can’t really go anywhere, my entire plans have completely gone kaput. So I wrote one song that was fully realized and fully done, and I did it in like two days. It was paradise. It came out of nowhere for me, and it still stuck with me. Because that’s the most me I’ll get. The most personal I’ll openly be in a song. I’m getting old and I’m finally kind of realizing who I want to be. Everything is looking up and the world is on fire. Like all of this is happening at the exact same time.
That song to me, got me all the way through to where we are now. Just having that raw emotion has made me super comfortable with where I am musically. It’s this new wave of confidence and drive of like, alright, let’s do this.
What song is this?
So you said you’d attended Farmers Balls in the past, but what was specific about this year? Why was this the year you entered?
I had finally… everything clicked into place. Everything musically and everything personally and everything aesthetically. It all just smashed into place to where it’s like this is the full, if we want to talk business wise, this is the full product, this is the whole thing. This is who I can be and who I want to be, and who I want to be on stage. That’s what kind of pushed me towards it.
I hate complimenting myself, but for me, the music was always there. It just was like I did not find a way to be it. I felt like I was writing music as a character and not so much being one. It’s evolved into not really a character; it’s just a bigger extension of who I am. And it’s great, and I love this. *Gestures to pink hair*
I love that. And I love the pink hair.
That’s the big deal, because it’s so contrasty and I mean, I just love the color. And that’s the joke for me is that I’m living, opulently effeminately and lazily masculine, which means I get to have pink hair, and wear really comfortable underwear, and also eat hamburgers.
So what’s the future look like? I know that’s the hardest question right now.
I think it looks really good. I’ll always do this, I’ll always probably always, sometimes, maybe you know. This is always just going to be a part of what I do and who I am both musically and and emotionally and physically and all that. No matter if it’s just doing shows, or it’s just going going and going and just hammering them out. And if not that, it’s finding a way to make it work. It’s doing something else with the same material, with the same flair, with with all of it. It’s just you got to adapt.
I’m really happy about some of the ways that we’ve adapted, but I am very very eager to make it just go back. I miss the Bottleneck, I miss the Replay, I miss Henry’s Upstairs. Everybody wear your masks, everyone get vaccinated. No conversation about it. Just do it. It’s not hard. It’s super easy.