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Elisha Esquivel, Musical Roots & Successful Crowdfunding

Two of the most effective incubators of creativity and craft that we’ve stumbled upon have been Jubilee Church, Coventry and Nexus Institute of Creative Arts. Elisha Esquivel happens to have been nurtured by both. Having performed on the live music scene for several years, she has an EP ready to drop in Spring 2018, and we thought it was time we caught up with her and found out more.

Hi Elisha, tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Elisha. I grew up along the south coast in Dorset, and have been writing songs for as long as I can remember. I am an avid tea-drinker, deep-thinker, wannabe-nutritionist, lover of all things outdoors, and wife to my lovely husband, Ollie.

You have been writing songs for a long time already. What was your musical upbringing? Who have been your key influences?

I had a musical family growing up I suppose. My Grandma was an opera singer and my Grandad worked for the radio. My Mum and Dad both played the guitar, and though it wasn’t in any professional capacity, we all loved music and my parents always encouraged music in our family. I remember being part of musical theatre groups growing up, taking piano lessons, being taxied around to singing competitions, and for Christmases and Birthdays, my mum would often buy me a couple of hours in a friends’ studio as a present. I’m so thankful for the way I was encouraged in my creativity. I was probably about 10 when I started writing simple songs that were nothing special – something I’m sure lots of kids do – and it could have been so easy for my parents to laugh it off or just ignore it completely, but they really took note of what I was interested in, believed in me, and nurtured my creativity, which I think was so vital in giving me the confidence to do a lot of the things I’ve done in my life.

You have been studying at Nexus in Coventry- could you briefly explain what Nexus is and how you’ve found your time studying there?

Yes! I came to Nexus Institute of Creative Arts when I was 16 and stayed for three years. When I was there in 2011, Nexus were offering gap years (or three…) for Christian musicians to come and grow in their faith, as well as train in a music specialism. I chose Vocals. It was a life-transforming 3 years for me full of incredible musical opportunities and training, meeting some of the best people I know, and also an amazing opportunity to solidify my faith and strengthen my relationship with God. Lots has changed since then for Nexus though – they are now a fully-fledged Institute of Higher Education and offer degrees in Popular Music and Worship! Shameless plug… (Ed: Plug away. We love Nexus. For more info here)

Your upcoming EP comes on the back of a very successful Kickstarter campaign in which you raised over £4,000 with nearly 50 backers. Tell us about it. 

This was an incredible and also extremely nerve-wracking experience! There are a lot of Crowdfunding platforms out there where you can keep whatever you raise, but I chose a Kickstarter campaign which runs on an all-or-nothing basis. I mainly chose this because I wanted to take a bit of a risk and trust God with the outcome. I’d say the process has taught me not to be limited by my own perception of what is possible, and that God is faithful to provide when we step out in faith. To me, setting a target of raising £4000 in 30 days really did seem quite impossible – I’m still amazed it’s all actually happening.

Can you share some tips on how to use platforms like this successfully?

3 tips I would give to anyone thinking of doing a Kickstarter is:

1) Do it with other people. Get a small team of key people around you that are willing to help and support you in small ways throughout the process – ie: proof-reading your page before it goes live, coming up with ideas for the rewards, helping to shoot your video, taking photos etc etc. It means that from the beginning you have a core group of people who are invested in you and believe in what you’re doing – the encouragement goes a long way!

2) Prepare well. I read loads of articles about what makes a successful campaign and talked to anyone I knew who had run a Kickstarter that had been successful to find out how they had gone about it. This was so useful.

3) Use it as a genuine opportunity to let people into your creative process and journey, not just as a way to get something out of them. Take the time to write regular updates, contact people personally, thank them etc. etc – it’s lots more fun this way and much more rewarding!

So, on to the EP. What can we expect from ‘From The Ground Up’?

So far, the EP has quite an urban electronic flavour with elements of raw, stripped back singer/songwriter. I’m excited to be crafting a sound for the first time that I feel really represents me as an artist. It’s still very much in the process of morphing and evolving, so you’ll have to wait and see when it comes out! The release date hasn’t been announced yet, but keep your eyes peeled for dates in 2018.

Thanks Elisha. Our eyes are officially peeled. For the time being though, her recent gig for the Treehouse Sessions is all up on youtube. Here’s a taster: