Ellise Is Like An EDM Version Of Ariana Grande & That's A Good Thing

Consider yourself forewarned: Ellise is about to blow up.

The California-native may only be 17 years old. But with pipes that rival Ariana Grande's and just enough EDM appeal to make a major mark on the dance circuit, this talented songstress might just wind up becoming summer's breakout star. The singer, who goes by her first name and has been performing since childhood, eventually took her performance skills over to YouTube, slaying her covers of songs like Adele's "Hello" and Justin Bieber's "Sorry."

But Ellise shines brightest when she's singing her own stuff, as evidenced by her latest release, "Dominoes," a track that demonstrates both her impressive range and undeniable talent. We spoke to Ellise about what inspired her song, being a first-generation American, and her dream collaborator. (Hint: She's covered him before.) Check out our conversation, and her new video for "Dominoes," below. This might be the first time you've heard her name, but it definitely won't be the last.

You left high school to move to L.A. and pursue music. What's that like, at 17, to be so far from home?
"When I moved, it was definitely scary. I didn't really know anything about life. I still kind of don’t. But it’s also a really great learning experience, and it’s really fun. A lot of my friends are in the same boat, who live in L.A., so we all kind of help each other out.

“My mom’s teenage story is a lot of the reason that I was not super scared to do it myself: She actually moved countries [from Iraq], and was here completely on her own with no one at 15 years old. She completely just built herself up from nothing. I think that’s part of the reason she even allowed me to do what I did: Because she kind of did the same thing, and it worked out well for her [laughs].

"Some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced were probably just learning how to do things on my own that my mom’s always done for me, and also just learning to be more independent and growing up a little bit. I think a big music-industry challenge is just staying true to what you want to do. Especially because I’m so young, a lot of people will try to pull [me] in different directions — [they] want you to be a certain way, and try to get you to be that way. I just want to make music, and make people happy through my music and [make] a career out of doing what I love."

Who do you draw inspiration and strength from?
"A lot of people inspire me. A career path that definitely inspires me is Selena Gomez’s: I really like how put-together she always is, and how she is very true to herself and doesn’t really care what anyone else thinks and speaks her mind.

"I think, honestly, someone that I really draw a lot of strength from is my mom: She really has always taught me to be strong and how to deal when you’re not feeling good. Because, you know, everyone has bad days. Everyone has times when they want to give up. I look to her whenever I’m feeling like that.”

Who is your dream collaborator?
“Right now, musically I would definitely want to collaborate with Justin Bieber. And I think someone with a really amazing voice that I would love to collaborate with would be like Audra Day, or Sia."

Are you part of a squad?
"I have friends — I wouldn’t say I’m part of a squad. I have one best friend — Luna — and we’re like sisters. But other than that, we kind of just hang out with lots of different groups of friends. I don’t really like squads too much. I think just hanging out with whoever you like is cool."

Can you tell me a little more about "Dominoes" and your songwriting process?
"I can’t like sit down and say, 'Okay, I’m going to write now.' Something really has to inspire me, and I get all these ideas and [keep] notes on my phone. All the notes on my phone are just scrolls of verses and stuff. 'Dominoes' was written in two days, because you get on a roll with something and it just flows.

"I like to write from things that have really happened, and so that song is about a past relationship that just wasn’t really working. I romanticized it a little bit. But it was definitely about a past experience where it kind of just wasn’t working out, and we both knew it. So we were like, alright: This this has to end."

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