Elijah Cross, 30
How did you get into music? The earliest memory I have in my childhood (is) my family singing together. Music was always around in the house. I was very much inclined toward it. My parents noticed (my voice when) we were singing in the back of the car. I went to performing arts school (San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts) when I was about 12 years old. That's when I started writing songs and listening to music. I moved around a lot and around the time I was in my early 20s . . . I signed a deal with a band in Miami, but . . . I had to leave the band due to other issues. Until recently, I've been on (various) labels. (Now) I've been trying to go the D.I.Y. route.
What brought you to York County? After high school, I went to Miami and went to New York . . . California and Athens, Ga. Up until last month, I was living in Sacramento, Calif. The label I (was) on is based in Washington, D.C. About a year ago . . . I started dating a girl I met out here and then she moved to York (County). My dad lives in Baltimore. All signs kind of started pointing to moving out East.
What inspires your music? They say write what you know. I was diagnosed . . . with depression at 17. There was sort of a stigma about it in my family. (I ) really didn't continue with the treatment. I needed to be medicated. Off and on, (I) tried different things. In 2009, I discovered what really worked for me. By that time, (my condition) developed into severe anxiety and depression. It was really rough. I couldn't leave the house at times. The one song that comes up most when talking about it is called "Disclaimer." The (narrator) is telling the person he met . . . "this is what's going on with me. you can stick around (or) you can bail right now." I (know) that people look at mental illness in the wrong way. People think that you can just snap out of it. Artistic folks . . . seem to deal with (depression) a lot. I think it's important for people to let (others) know about it and not hide it. If you keep it in the dark, it gives it an air of something that can't be defeated.
Do you work with any mental illness organizations about your music? It's something I have in mind to do. I haven't been in contact with organizations. They'd go to someone (who is famous) first who has this condition. When I was living in Athens, Ga., there was a place (Nuci's Space) that was set up for musicians and artists who were dealing with mental illness. I would love to set something like that up here in Pennsylvania. It really opened up a lot of doors. I had a band down there, and my guitarist was in close contact with people there . . . and benefited from it.
What are you working on at the moment? The main thing I have out right now is an EP ("Flawed Designs") . . . on Amazon and iTunes. That would be the main project I guess. I just finished work on an orchestral suite that I'm in the process to find a group of players to put that out. I am in rehearsals for the . . . production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" (at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center). I will be playing Judas.
I heard you have an interesting idea to market your album? My little gimmick is . . . for every $2,000 the music makes, I am giving half of that to a random person who spent 99 cents for a single or $3.99 (for the album) just to say "thanks." This is fan appreciation. People can go to their outlet of choice . . . purchase it and send in the receipt to my email address (ElijahReceipts@yahoo.com). People can follow on Facebook. I'm still working hard to get the word out so I can hit the first target. Right now, I'm nowhere near it. I imagine that if a major label artist did this . . . it would be interesting.There are a lot of fan appreciation marketing plans out there. The landscape of the music industry is changing so much that there needs to be new life breathed into it. This is just one idea that I had. It (might) fail miserably, and I'll try something else.I'm such a fan of the way (Lady Gaga) gets out there and cuts out the middleman. She sells ("Born This Way") for 99 cents. With that kind of wealth, I think . . . people have an obligation to recognize that you're nothing without the people who support you.
Was making the EP therapeutic for you? Those four songs were actually written kind of during a couple years in which I was still trying to figure out if there was any way of fixing what was wrong with me. I still have the condition. I tell people (my music) is a blend of rock, pop and folk. It's influenced by singer/songwriters (including) Elton John (and) Billy Joel. I've had just fallen in love with Aimee Mann. I shy away from the Elvis Costello comparison because he's such a hero of mine.
Are you playing anywhere in the area? I would definitely like to go out in support of the (EP). I just moved here in early May. Priority No. 1 was to get a job. I had to take care of that first. I've heard about some open mikes that I might start going to.I had to take a step back and try to reconfigure (my schedule). This is a new chapter in life . . . which is kind of cool. From what I heard of York, (there) are people interested in the arts and supporting local music.
- Erin McCracken, FlipSide staff
If you go
See Elijah Cross as Judas in "Jesus Christ Superstar." The show hits the stage at 7 p.m. July 22, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. July 23 and 2 p.m. July 24 at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York. Tickets are $10 for children and $15 for adults.
For details about Elijah Cross' "Flawed Designs" EP, visit facebook.com/flaweddesignsep.
Check out his YouTube channel: youtube.com/adoniscross
Read about the Drive By Truckers' connection to Nuci's Space: http://bit.ly/k7T7cK
Read more meet-the-artist interviews: www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory