Defan, Elan Sara 2
- Born: Mar 1, 1983, Guadalajara, Mexico 2
former editor, Musician magazine
Okay, I'm putting my name on this one.
Why? Because this is one bio where I want to go on the record.
Because I'm talking to you about a new artist who's unlike any I've co me
across in quite some time.
I'm talking about ELAN, a singer and songwriter who at age nineteen ca me
roaring out of Guadalajara by way of Southern California and straigh t into
Maybe, like me, you remember when rock and roll was something close t o a
spiritual thing. It wasn't about slick and snappy dance steps or machi ne-bred
grooves. And it wasn't about focus groups or demographic targeting.
Those days--if they ever really existed--were probably gone before ELA N
was born. But somehow, she was there. That sense, that music can sav e your
life, courses through her debut album, STREET CHILD. It's raw, rough , full
of soul and impossible to ignore. Her voice cries, shouts and whispers
through songs that feel timeless, bottomless, searing and ecstatic.
From the world-weary resignation of "Goodbye Jeremy" to "They Came Fro m the City," a rhythmic hymn to visions that beckon from just beyond t he horizon. This is epic, visual music. Colors seem to flare and deepe n as we ride down this sonic highway. This is music about which myth s will be spun…except that it's here now. In our time.
Only the rarest kind of artist can do something like this. An artist w ho somehow can plug into young passions while drawing also from lesson s that come through hard times.
The ELAN story is a story of a brother and sister who gave up everythi ng in search for their dream and didn't stop until they got it.
A few names come to mind: Janis Joplin. Bonnie Raitt. To me, the women
hold a special place in this pantheon, carved from pain and poetry, an d from
the ecstasy of empowerment.
ELAN belongs on this list too. But I've said enough…let her words, an d her music, make the case…
"I grew up on Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bill ie Holiday…I'm very disassociated from my generation. But I'm not disa ppointed in these kids, because they're not responsible. They've had t o grow up on soulless, fake pop stars that are told what to say and wh en to say it by sons of bitches who don't want to give us anything t o believe in…"
ELAN speaks quietly, in a husky hush that's punctuated in equal measur e by laughter and blunt, honest ire. She makes no apology for her opin ions, which are about as provocative as her singing and the emotionall y turbulent songs she writes.
"I didn't know modern pop until I came to the U.S.," she continues. "U p to that point all I knew were the real legends. The singers who sai d 'even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stan d naked.' That's why I have a problem with pretty little boys and girl s who think that shaking their asses and doing their happy little danc es are all it takes to get onto what was once sacred ground--the cove r of Rolling Stone.
She was the younger of two children; her brother Jan Carlo DeFan remai ns her closest friend and collaborator. He is her producer, manager an d the president of their label: Silverlight Records. He also joins he r on stage live as her guitarist.
Both parents were musical. ELAN began to play the piano by the age o f three, then added guitar and drums to her regimen a few years later . But she was ten or eleven years old when she actually began performi ng. Her first appearances were at parties in her own home. Eventuall y she started singing at similar events around town. But everyone kne w that her future was too big to be contained in Guadalajara.
And so, when ELAN was fifteen, her family made its move to the US, whe re ELAN and Jan Carlo began scouting out the music world. All four wer e, and still are, tight.
"It was very rough," she remembers. "My whole life was in Mexico. Whe n I left, I felt I was the only person on the planet. But music was al l I ever wanted to do. I knew this was the price I had to pay. So, for get it. I did what I had to."
Jan Carlo's street smarts, polished by his experience as an Producer a nd an A&R executive, helped ELAN edge into the American music world. T hey drove back and forth between cities, lining up gigs. Already her h ard-edged, dramatic sound was taking shape. "Because of all the pop th ey've been given to listen to, people didn't take it in easily at firs t," she admits. "But if I could play two or three songs for them, they 'd say, 'you're really saying something. I haven't heard anything lik e this in a long time…'"
The songs on the album were culled from the more than 100 songs ELAN
(who plays piano, guitar and drums) wrote. She and brother/producer Ja n Carlo cultivated these tracks in studios all over the United State s and Mexico. They began sifting through them, recording the ones tha t felt right. Their approaches complemented each other perfectly: "EL AN just bangs her music out," Jan Carlo says. "You get most of her voc als in one take. I, on the other hand, love tweaking stuff. I thin k I recorded fifty or sixty different guitar tracks for 'Street Child ' alone: I'd wake up in the morning, pissed off at what I'd done the n ight before, erase it, and do it again."
Jan Carlo recruited some amazing talents for this album. Among them th e renowned Mexican composer and arranger Eugenio Toussaint, to write t he chart when strings began to feel right for the piano/vocal track "T ime." For other songs, Jan Carlo brought in long time friends Juan Car los Paz y Puentefor string arrangements and Grammy Award Winning Engin eer Jeff "The Pirate" Poe to assist in the recording and mixing proces s.
Some high-profile guests signed on along the way as well: David Immerg luck of Counting Crows and Alan Weatherhead of Sparklehorse, as well a s David Lowery from Cracker. But for ELAN, having Slash solo on the ti tle cut was "Amazing," she says. "Jan Carlo and I always wanted him t o do the song… we had thought of him in the song YEARS before we had a ctually tracked it. He heard about us through a friend of ours, listen ed to 'Street Child,' and called us up. I was floored. I was alway s a fan of Guns N'Roses and to me Slash has always been REAL rock & ro ll. Making music together was… magic."
That, in briefest sketch, is the story of STREET CHILD. But it is, o f course,
much more than that. It's a monument, if you will, to the determinatio n, and the talent, and the bond shared by a brother and sister, who we re willing to leave a world behind and stare down everyone that stoo d between them and their dream. And it's more even than that: It's a n expression of faith in the power of rock and roll-- a power that's b een dormant for too long.
"Everything that once made music magic has been slaughtered," ELAN say s, "by seedy guys in suits and rich kids with cell phones. I haven't l ost hope. All I need is a few kids behind me, saying, 'Hey, you're rig ht! Forget them! We're going to make the music we want to make the wa y we want to make it, because that is rock & roll.' I want to make lif e a little less painful. If this record can do that, reaching one per son at a time, then I've accomplished my mission." ###
Noted events in her life were:
• Birth in Week. Thursday
• Jewish Birth Date. 22 Adar (I) 5643