Elijah Delgado talks about his penchant for cappuccino, shoes, community, & sitting outside with people in cool weather outside the city limits.
Elijah Delgado, a 21-year-old indie-rock talent hailing from Austin, Texas, delves into the human experience with his latest single, “Pipe Dream.” His music strikes a chord with its blend of indie-rock introspection and heartfelt warmth, reflecting the intricate tapestry of life.
Rooted in a family that cherishes music, Elijah’s journey began with a guitar and an unwavering passion. Influences ranging from Sameer Ghadia to blues legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan have shaped his unique sound.
Performing live is akin to a soul-baring communion for Elijah. “Pipe Dream” grapples with the universal conflict of right and wrong decisions, a theme that resonates deeply.
Elijah’s music is a mirror, inviting listeners to find their own reflections in his verses. Through joy, sorrow, and introspection, he aims to evoke a range of emotions, creating a connection that transcends words alone.
Happy: What are you up to today?
Elijah: I’m currently at the coffee shop that I work at responding to emails! When I’m done here, I’ll be running some errands, and then squeeze in recording some demos. After that, I’ll be going to a UT Austin hockey game tonight! I definitely did not know that there was a UT hockey team until today.
Happy: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?
Elijah: I’m from Austin, Texas! When I meet people that have never been, the general perception is that we wear cowboy hats and ride horses to the saloon in the desert, but it is quite far from that!
Austin is such a cool city with some sweet nightlife and great food. I’ve been fortunate to grow up here and watch the city grow and change. There is definitely some horse riding action (and donkeys) in downtown Austin to be fair.
It’s a magical place. The Austin music scene is incredibly dense. There is amazing live music at every corner. There are so many musicians here, and the music community is very tight and inclusive.
Happy: Describe an average day?
Elijah: I wake up much earlier than I’d like, thoroughly brush my teeth, and open up the coffee shop at 6:30am. I’ll then drink/serve a lot of coffee, and leave around 1:30pm.
Then I’ll go home and chip at the 5 different songs I’m writing at once at some point in the afternoon, and do admin type things since I’m an independent artist.
I’ll typically end my day either hanging out with friends/family, or playing a show / rehearsing with my band!!
Happy: Can you tell us about your musical background and what initially inspired you to pursue a career in music?
Elijah: I grew up in a family of people who deeply appreciate music, but aren’t musicians per se. At family gatherings everyone would very commonly sit around the table and pass the aux and play all kinds of music they were listening to at the time. My dad plays some guitar, and when I was 5 I asked him to teach me, but my hands were too small hahaha.
A few years later we revisited, and it was a success! From the few chords he teached me, I took to YouTube, (shoutout Marty Schwartz), and was glued to my guitar for years, and still am to some degree.
Pursuing a career in music was really never a decision I made; It’s just always been a truth and something that I’ve always known that I wanted to do. It’s been a culmination of inspiration, and an innate desire to create.
Happy: Who are some of your biggest musical influences and how do they shape your sound?
Elijah: Sameer Ghadia of Young The Giant has been a huge inspiration for me vocally. The whole band has shaped me musically too. When I was a kid learning guitar, I learned a lot of Blues, so Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, John Mayer (controversial I know), and Gary Clark Jr., have all been big guitar influences for sure. Indie/Rock, Singer/songwriter, Blues, and R&B were all big genres I listened to growing up and have shaped my sound. Paolo Nutini, Ray Lamontagne, Bon Iver, Al Green, Phoenix, the list could go on!
Happy: What is your favourite part of the music-making process? Is it the songwriting, recording, or performing live?
Elijah: They’re each such singular experiences, so they feel like their own worlds in a lot of ways, but I think performing live is the most rewarding experience of the three. I started releasing music during the pandemic, so I didn’t get to work the live performance muscle until really about the past year and a half or so.
It has felt like learning another instrument in a lot of ways, but it’s been so great. Getting to showcase the hard work of writing and recording as a mature body of work on a stage in front of people is an amazing feeling. Past that though, getting to connect with the audience is what is actually rewarding.
For me, that connection is an artist’s opportunity to communicate with their listener’s past dialect, leaving both to walk away feeling even more connected than when they got there. That’s really cool to me. It’s a reminder of why I sit down with my guitar to write a song, and why I take that song to the studio.
Happy: How do you typically approach songwriting? Do you draw from personal experiences or explore different themes?
Elijah: I’ve always had a very abstract way that I approach songwriting. It’s always been a goal to write as personally and vulnerably as I can, while writing vaguely enough to be seemingly universal for the listener to connect to in their own unique and individual ways. I love hearing how someone relates to a song of mine and what it means to them, and how it almost always means something different than what I wrote about.
As a songwriter, I always want to grow and explore different styles of writing, but it’s always going to be threaded by something personal that people can connect with. That’s what it’s all about.
Happy: Could you share a memorable moment or experience from your musical journey that has had a significant impact on you as an artist?
Elijah: I used to dread playing solo acoustic shows. I can sing into a mic all day, but I’ve always had a hard time speaking into one. I started playing some Sofar Sounds shows around town, and there have been a culmination of moments and experiences that have really empowered my voice and things I have to say. It’s definitely been a huge growth point and positive impact on me.
Happy: “Pipe Dream” is described as a sincere journey through the human experience. Can you share the inspiration behind the song and what universal themes you aimed to explore with it?
Elijah: I would say that I am a pretty self-aware person, and honestly probably too self-aware at times. Call it what you want, (probably crippling anxiety but who’s to say), but for whatever reason, it leads me to reflect on morality a lot of the time.
We all make decisions everyday, many decisions, and while most hang out in a subjective place, there are objectively wrong and right decisions that we have to face daily as well. “Pipe Dream” is a display of the tension you feel when you make a wrong decision knowing what is right.
Big or small scale, it’s a universal experience. The very first line is an invitation to step into a space of self-reflection.
Happy: What do you hope listeners take away from your music, especially from songs like “Pipe Dream”?
Elijah: I know it sounds mushy or cliche, but I just hope listeners feel something when they hear my music. Joy, sadness, self-reflection, excitement, heavy, hopeful, validated, etc.
Happy: How do you stay inspired and creative, especially during times when you might face challenges or writer’s block?
Elijah: So many ways! As of right now, I feel inspired to create to advance my career and keep things moving. Other times, It’s seeing other musicians thrive in a live performance, and other times it’s as small as catching a candid moment during the day like feeling the sun on my face through the window blinds in the evening; almost like how film cameras seem to always catch sweet small candid moments.
Staying inspired and creative can be so hard honestly, and sometimes just embracing the challenges or writer’s block is the more appropriate move. We’re all constantly evolving and gaining new experiences to pull from. It’s like switchbacks on a mountain. No matter what, you’re still going up, even when it feels untrue.
Happy: What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a musician for you so far?
Elijah: Being a musician is such an interesting and wild experience. It’s a business, but it’s my art. It’s a job, but it’s my passion.
There are so many complexities, but I get to do what I enjoy and have always enjoyed, and share it with whoever is willing to listen. It’s a very personally rewarding experience, but it’s also so much bigger than me, and that is great news to me.
Happy: What makes you happy?
Elijah: A yummy cappuccino, shoes, community, sitting outside with people in cool weather outside the city limits, string lights, a good bargain, making unwise financial decisions on musical instruments, and Happy Mag, just to name a few things!