She’s the perfect amount of darkness and light rolled into one. The growing star best known as Eleanor Kingston possess a raw and melodious voice. Based in La, her style and creativity exemplify her ability to find light in any amount of darkness. Eleanor’s lyrics are intensely relatable and when accompanied by her vocals, the hits are endless for her. Eleanor’s visuals are extended stories of what she writes in her music.
I like to twist and turn the concepts of my songs and make them a different story that even more people can relate to or get behind in the visuals.
The artist recently gifted her growing fan base a new EP. The 4 song record titled “Great Kind of Madness, Pt.1,” is a recollection of a time when she had nothing, but her strength and grind have brought her to a higher place, and this project is her tribute. I had the opportunity of catching up with Eleanor to talk about her release and everything that makes her the artist that she is!
When did you start writing music?
I started making music… Okay, it’s kind of a funny journey. I think it’s similar to Ariana Grande’s story a little bit, where she really… She started in acting, obviously was hugely successful, and then she was always like, “Whoa, I love singing.” I really just want to be a singer, I know that, but I’m getting all these acting gigs and it’s happening really fast and I’m kind of in that space more. I actually started when I was really, really young, going to acting camp since elementary school in Los Angeles. because I always knew I wanted to be there. I would do casting calls and had an agent in LA. And all of that. And then I ended up going to a boarding high school in Connecticut. And there was not the best experience for me. It was very rigorous academics. I didn’t love the drama scene there. I didn’t really fit in, I felt like it was kind of… The directors weren’t necessarily on my side, I wasn’t really finding my place and it was in the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t like I could go out and act on the side because the academics were so rigorous and we had five hours of homework every single night that you couldn’t just leave on a jet to LA and kind of come back when you wanted to. I had to stop acting for a bit, and it ended up being kind of the best thing for me because in the acting world, it’s very… There’s so much pressure. There’s pressure in the singing world, but I feel like I’m more in control. And my main thing in life is control. I want to be able to have a voice in what I’m doing and who… What I’m coming off as to the general public. I started just singing kind of to numb the pain because acting wasn’t going right. I was a huge volleyball player, that wasn’t really going right. I didn’t have too many friends at my school in… In Connecticut. I felt super out of place. Just kid on financial aid, super rich school, I just didn’t really fit in. And I kind of ended up going into the music wing, they had a phenomenal music program. And I was able to just belt out my feelings, and it started with a lot of covers. And then I started writing poetry because I had a phenomenal poetry teacher in high school, and she really pushed me to start writing free verse. And from that I was just like, “Whoa, I really love singing, I really love poetry. Why don’t I just try to combine these two. I already have the footing in LA, I already kind to know how to navigate that scene, why don’t I just start kind to shifting my focus to something that I love doing more. I’m able to get on my emotion.” It really just started from mental health. Just feeling in a really dark place and feeling like maybe no one cared, maybe the people around me didn’t want to hear it, maybe I was just venting my feelings to people who didn’t actually care about me personally. When I started releasing music just off a whim, I’m very glad I Did because I feel like in these past few years, there’s so much more availability for… With social media for you to get your music out and heard. Even when I had no fan base, I ended up getting those songs to 80,000 streams and it was all just organic fan traction who cared about what I had to say and who felt understood. Yeah, that’s kind of a bit about how I started. It’s a very long-winded answer, but it’s very special to me.
What really inspired you to release the first song? And what gave you the confidence to really be super raw and open with the world?
I guess for the first part of your question, as far as what made you release that first song. I think a lot of my music is rooted in boys. And it’s not generic like, Oh, I was broken up with, kind of stuff. I’ve gone through a lot of stuff at a very young age, that my mom is like, “Woah. That didn’t happen to me till I was like 30,” as far as being the other woman at 16 years old and just weird stuff, being taken advantage of by much older men and just situations that I knew weren’t okay, but I also knew if they were happening to me, they were happening to so many people, and it was deeper than a break-up song of like, Oh my God, I’m so sad because you chose another girl. It was like, What the hell? These things are real. This is really real content. And I felt confident to put that out. The first three songs were about my situations with guys that weren’t acceptable at all, and I felt comfortable putting them out and confident because I knew I was actually sharing something that was important to the broader scope of female empowerment and what we have to go through on a larger scale, and it was deeper than just me. So even if I’ll be the face of it, of my music, my music’s deeper than even who I am as an individual, if that makes any sense. That’s just kind of how I found the confidence. It was more just innate because I knew it was for a broader good than writing a song about a club and saying like, I’m confident because I’m the shit.
Let’s go into Great Kind of Madness, Part One. How did that come about?
So Great Kind of Madness, Part One happened when I had just kind of gotten out of the high school situation. I started those three songs that I came out when I was in high school, I made at Paramount Recording Studios in LA, and those were big-budget situations, but the sound quality to me wasn’t there, even though the money was being put in, because I was fortunate enough to have that with my first couple songs. I know a lot of artists when they start out, all they have is themselves and a mic, and I know that I was fortunate to start off at that point where people from Paramount did care and they wanted to help. But to me, the sound quality that I was hearing from Billie Eilish who was blowing up at the same time in her bedroom with her brother was so… That was why I wanted to make music. I was like, You are revolutionary. You’re taking all of this money that people feel like they have to spend at a proper recording studio so that they can only put out one song every six months so that it’s top quality, and you’re saying like, Let me just use my brother who’s super talented and use my voice, which is amazing, and then make something dope. When I moved out to LA, that was really what I craved to find. And in that period of time, my producer from Paramount, because I was broke, dead broke at the time, moved out to LA at 18 with nothing, fortunate enough to have my mom helping with rent and stuff. He said, “I don’t think this project is for me.” And whether that was genre or financial or whatever it was, I felt super stuck because I came out to LA, got super sick that summer, and then just… Couldn’t get out of bed sick, couldn’t find a job, just was in a horrible situation with a guy I had just met in LA and got attached to, and he was much older, and it was just messy, messy, messy. And that’s actually what Dedicated to You is about, it’s that summer. And a lot of Great Kind of Madness, the reason I talk about that summer right now is because that summer was when I wrote these songs. Even though it was so long ago, it was two summers ago, the emotions I felt then when I had nothing are what I really wanted to put out this year when I feel so fortunate and blessed, but I still want to pay homage to that time. I had a girlfriend, a good friend of mine, and she had this guy come over and she invited me over to meet him and he was just new to LA too, and he was like, “Yeah, I’m a producer, but I don’t really have much behind my belt, but I love to do production.” And I was like, “Dope. That’s what I’m looking for. That is what I want. You are the type of person I want. Let’s just try it.” And he took one of the demos I had made with a different guitar player or demo producer kind of vibe, he took that song, and when I heard his version, I literally started crying because it was the most amazing art that I had ever heard in my life, and I knew from that moment on, he was the producer that I needed to make every single project with, and I fully believe that in my heart, and I’m fortunate enough to call him my best friend right now. But it started just two kids with a vision, to be completely honest, who moved out to LA to do one thing and weren’t necessarily really getting those gigs, and then just put our brains together and said like, “Okay, dope. We don’t need to work with the world’s most renowned producer, and you don’t need to be in search of making your first song with Ariana Grande. Let’s start from the ground up.”
That’s how it started, and he became my co-writer, producer, mix engineer. He does all of it. My music is literally him, that’s what I always say. It’s very much like our child. That’s what we make together. It’s not just me behind it, and I’m super proud of that because, yeah, every single song is him and I, and we also have another phenomenal producer named Kit who stepped in to help on some of the records as well, but it mainly just is the two-person collaborative team. And then as far as the visual side goes, I… We had been creating and fostering these records for so long, and I had basically just looked like an Instagram influencer who was just posting random pics of me and selfies, and I was like, “I need people to know I’m an artist,” and that doesn’t just mean posting pictures of me in the studio. That means full-fledge, How am I going to present this art once I want to put it out because I went on a year-long hiatus when everyone was like, “Eleanor, I thought you didn’t go to college to make music. What are you doing?” And I was like, “You know what? I need to come back and show what I’ve been doing.” So literally during Coronavirus when I was alone again in Los Angeles, unable to leave my apartment, and I didn’t know many people in LA at that point, and just literally, it was just me in my head that whole time in my apartment alone.
Talk to me about your team and what role they have played in your success?
Part of it is, how did I take them and put them into a business position? And then on the other hand it’s like, how the hell did they take me and put me into one? I think it’s just both parties really worked together to make something amazing. I’m a business woman first, and I think that’s what people don’t understand about music sometimes is it’s like, you can have the talent, but talent and the music part of it is 20% of the gig. If you don’t have the other 80% where you are hustling your ass off learning music business, and you’re figuring out e-commerce, and you’re figuring out how to run ads, and you’re saying, “What are people grappling with? Why is this artist blowing up? It’s because of this. Okay, I need to figure out a way to do something like that.” It’s the business, because I hear so many independent artists every day who, they’ll say, “Oh, I want to join your record label. Can you sign me?” Or whatever it is, and their music’s amazing, but the other part of that is the branding and what numbers do you have because you work to get there. I definitely will always say that the marketing side of it for me, and the business side of it for me, is the most important. I will never put someone on my team and say, “Okay, here’s this much money upfront, peace out.” It’s more, “How can we work together to make this sustainable?” I was fortunate enough to be offered a record label contract in that first year of making music, literally before I had even released a song coming out of high school, I was presented with a record label contract. So that was dope because it kind of bought us some time to figure out how to do it ourselves, because the goal for me, I own a record label with my brother, I make music. The goal for me is to do what Russ did, where it’s like, “How can we expand and make it so that I’m making a good living without someone else being in control of my career?” And I know producers who signed to record labels, they get taken advantage of and paid little to none. Or makeup artists who are working gig to gig, get paid little to none. And I was like, “Okay, you guys are still talented, if I figure out a way myself to market this music to the top, you aren’t going to deal with record label percentages, you’re going deal with my percentages, and because you’re my best friend, those percentages are going to be a lot higher.” So that’s kind of just like how I did it and how I figured it out. Obviously on the business side too, that’s not just me being smart and figuring it out, it’s so many people that coached me along the way, so many mentors, including my brother, who stepped in and said, “We should try this.” And then a mentor who came in and said, “Okay, this is how I do this.” And all of those things made me such a better marketer, made me such a better business woman, and also just heightened my music craft, because I was like, “Whoa, if I’m sitting behind a computer for legitimately 13 hours a day just focus on marketing, then this better be the best music anyone’s ever heard. And this better be worth it.” So it also helps your creative flow as well.
You and Buppy are like the ultimate brother and sister duo especially in music. Do you have any other siblings?
We do. We do. I’m super happy that you asked about that, because they are equally as amazing. So we have an older brother who is graduating this June from Stanford University, completing both his masters and his undergraduate degree in four years, for sustainability and just… He’s literally the epitome of my best friend. He’s such an adventurer’s soul. He’s so intelligent, the smartest person I’ve ever come to know, but he also knows that the main thing he wants to be known for is fun in his life, which keeps me grounded, because I’m such a workaholic and such a Capricorn and all this stuff. Where he’s like, “If we’re not going out and rock climbing today or surfing today or hiking today, why are we living? And so, he pushes me to that extent. Also, our younger brother right now, is kind of training for the Olympics. He took the Park City, Utah route. He’s 13, but he’s already top of his age group in Slope style skiing, so he’s up the mountain right now, he wakes up at 7:00 AM every morning, comes home at 4:00 PM He does online school, so that he can be a skier primarily during the winter and kind of work throughout the summer as well. So, yeah, no, I mean, I would say out of our family members, I’m least proud of myself, because I’m so proud of all of them.
What is one of the biggest changes that you’ve seen in yourself as an artist up to this point in your career?
As an artist, I’ve changed so much as a person, and I think that that shows in your artistry. I guess for me, when I first started, as far as artistry goes, I was so… When I was young, it was the Katy Perry and the Ariana Grande and the Fergie, and all of these phenomenal pop women, and I was so rooted in pop. Those first few songs. The first one is completely alternative, but I also didn’t have a lot of say in how that record was made, but that’s another story. All of the records that I’d made to my name were pop and just very pop-focused, and how I grew as an artist was recognizing I love Frank Ocean and I love Mac Miller, and I love the alternative energy and I love UK rap, and I love rock. I just want to be as diverse of an artist as I can, while also recognizing I love pop, it’s my favorite genre and it will always be my favorite genre, and I want to make music that I want to listen to. But also, just that these other genres do come into play, and I want to experiment. And my producer is one of the most talented people on the face of the earth, so I don’t want to put him into a pop box either. So yeah, I think that’s the main way I’ve grown, as far as sonically, is just recognizing that you can put in a lot of genres and different alternative elements and still succeed.
What is your favorite song from the EP and why?
I would say “Pink Things” is definitely my favorite song. That’s because it’s… “Pink Things” is the song that we wrote in August, so it’s the most recent song that I’ve written that we also created in full. And that song is about so many things, it’s about being tomboy and girly-girl and how that’s okay. It’s about how, if you love pink, and you love makeup and you love dressing up, and you love all of these things that are seen girly and feminine, putting people down for that only makes us stronger and only makes us want to do it more. So, you’re not really succeeding in putting a woman down when you say a negative comment in any way. And then, it’s also just about my dark fantasy. When people say, “Well, I really like girly things and tomboy things,” and I’m taking my own spin on that to say… The verse lyrics are, “I cut off half my nail last night, wrote your name in my burn book, said goodbye, wore my heels to the park and cried in front of a family of five.” So many of those things are girly, where it’s like, “Okay, if you’re wearing heels, you’re feminine,” and then it’s like, “But then you’re also going to the park and crying in front of people,” and that might be a little frowned upon as a girl, but to me, I’m like, “I don’t care.” Then, in the pre, it’s like, “Embarrassing, you think girls fixate on pink things, boys and rings, but here’s the thing, I’m obsessed with dark things, empty rooms, as long as it’s not one with you.” So, it was kind of saying, like, “I’ve seen so many times, through growing up… ” There was a really long period of time with the Kardashian era and whatever, that everyone just… All these rappers and these people wanted a trophy wife, and I was like, “I never, ever want to be a trophy wife.” Yeah, I want to dress up and feel beautiful for myself, and wear pink and all these things, but I’m going to be the breadwinner. Sorry about that. I have a dark side of me too, and if I’m upset one night, it’s not because I’m on my period. No, I’m just upset and I’m sad, I’m in a darker mood, and that’s fine, and that’s also how women are as well. So, it’s not just like you can put us into this one box. And it’s so funny, because I’ve started to get a lot of hate on the internet, which is super exciting for me, honestly, because I think that means you’re really succeeding. A lot of the hate I get is just straight white men who say, like, “Women are never told what to do. You’re reaching. You’re trying to get clout.” Just weird stuff, but I think that that even speaks to it even more, and it makes me happy that people comment that, because it validates my point that no matter what a woman does, she’s going to be put down. I never… You can correct me if I’m wrong, but how many times are men in music put down? Slim to none, in my opinion. But women are constantly scrutinized, and that’s what I want to bring to light in a very, very direct way, and I’m very proud of myself for “Pink Things”, because that’s the first record where I really did that, and there will definitely be a lot more of me doing that.
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