EP Review: Etherbaby – Don’t Be Yourself, Be Happy

Don’t Be Yourself, Be Happy is the experimental new four-track EP from Zürich, Switzerland-based electronic pop artist Etherbaby.

By Graeme Smith

Etherbaby, real name Elodie Graf, has a refreshing style. She combines big, soulful vocals with a textured electronic soundscape. It’s a combination you might not think would work to begin with, but by the time the first chorus of opening track I Don’t Care hits, you’re convinced. The sweeping vocals provide a roadmap through the labyrinthine instrumentals and what shines through is Elodie’s heart.

Elodie mixes a lot of different influences into her music. While I Don’t Care draws from R&B and experimental electronica, track two Breaking Down has an ’80s pop vibe to it, but again with an off-kilter feel to it. There’s an easy percussive loop that canters along even when the synths become heavy and distorted. The vocals are big and bold, and a little reminiscent of Florence Welch.

By the halfway point of the EP, it’s clear that Elodie is processing a lot of emotion through her music and, indeed, the EP is her way of expressing her freedom from a toxic relationship. Looking through that lens, the experimental choices make sense. The instrumentals breed conflict but the vocals cut through it all with an inner strength. This is especially true of track three Always, full of melodramatic delivery, angsty lyrics and a moody, plodding rhythm.

The EP closes with Nightmare, which kicks the tempo back up through prominent electronic drums, ethereal harmonies, searching synth notes and expressive vocals. There’s a sense of letting go in it. It’s Elodie’s last reflection on the pain of the past and there is an undercurrent of hope. There’s an acknowledgement that even the worst nightmares end.

Etherbaby is a project that started in Elodie’s bedroom when she was fifteen. Over five years she’s crafted her sound, tempered by the experience of growing up through her late teens. Now 20, she has the fearless youth to create something entirely fresh and different, with the experience to shape it to an audience and I’m thoroughly impressed. I can’t even imagine how far she’ll be able to take her sound and I look forward to finding out.

You can check out Don’t Be Yourself, Be Happy below.