It can be hard to talk about our feelings. Trying to put on a brave face while your brain is on fire is an experience that far too many people have had to grapple with. There’s definitely a vulnerability when it comes to letting people know what’s truly going on in your head, and it’s only relatively recently that the stigma around mental health has begun to dissipate. Nashville resident Jillian Cohen has experienced this herself. She’s decided to channel these personal struggles into music under the name Elle Azar, and the result is her debut single “Mess.” We’re thrilled to host the premiere of “Mess” this morning.
The serenity of “Mess” will catch you off-guard at first. The bubbling synths are a pleasant listen, and the intro gives way to a quiet, blissful-sounding first verse. Azar sings frankly about her mental state, letting the listener know how much turmoil is going on just below the surface of her mind. As she reaches the end of the verse, the music stutters a little, the cracks beginning to form in the idyllic soundscape. As “Mess” progresses further, she lets listeners further and further into the truth, revealing the struggle she’s going through and the mental “mess” she’s endured. In turn, the music picks up intensity, the synths growing into a roar and the drums grow impassioned and wild. Everything comes crashing back down as the song concludes, a powerful emotional release from the journey Azar has taken us on.
“Mess” also has a corresponding music video, with Azar literally trying to clean up a giant jumble of clothing and lights. It’s a simple but powerful metaphor for what she’s going through, and the image of her mostly buried under this clutter will leave a lasting impression on viewers.
“Mess” obviously came from a very personal space. Azar says
“I was feeling pretty lost. At a quick glance everything may have seemed fine but if you looked closer, it really wasn’t. ‘Mess’ was a moment of imagining being ‘put back’ to my truest form. And then breathing a sigh of relief in the middle of it all realizing that it’s alright, even when it’s not alright. When life feels like it’s piling up and starting to swallow you, it’s ok to ask for help. The song began as a moody piano-driven ballad. But when we got in the studio and Jeremy Lutito (producer) started playing around with those chaotic drum moments, it really added another layer of emotional tension. The contrast between the delicate piano and the schizophrenic drums felt so wrong, but so right.
Azar also adds she has a bigger vision for what “Mess” and her music is for. She states “At the end of the day this project isn’t just about my pain. It’s bigger than that.”
We have a feeling Elle Azar can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to. Check out the video for “Mess” below.
NOTE: The video contains rapidly flashing lights starting at 2:30.
EDIT: A previous version of this article stated Cohen was a licensed therapist. She has a Master’s in counseling. Substream regrets the error.