Ellise Conjures Dark Pop Coven with Mothica and DeathbyRomy on Expanded Version of “Soul Sucker”

Photo Credit: CASTRO

The concept of the “Power of Three” has existed in many religious beliefs, but it is, perhaps, its proximity to Pagan, occult, and Wiccan religions that has made it a trope within gothic-horror media since Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and more recently with cinematic hits such as Hocus Pocus, The Witches of Eastwick, Charmed, and Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. These unholy trinities have been a mainstay of the genre and persist as a symbol of female solidarity. Now, producer, musician, and lover of all things spooky Ellise taps into this theme for a new version of “Soul Sucker” featuring additional verses by fellow dark-pop artists Mothica and DeathbyRomy.

“Soul Sucker” first appeared on Ellise’s most recent album Letting the Wolf In, conceptually centered around retelling Grimm’s Fairy Tales and released just before Halloween. “Soul Sucker, Pt. 2” builds on the song’s themes of toxicity and self-destructive behavior. “It’s such a spin on what my songs are usually about, where the female is portrayed as this victim,” Ellise tells Audiofemme. “In ‘Soul Sucker,’ it’s completely the opposite…you are the soul sucker.”

While she’s always harbored a fascination with the fantastical and the so-called Halloween-pop it inspires, Ellise says, “I always want my music to be real and realistic. The reality is that we all have toxic tendencies. We are all imperfect and we’ve all hurt people just in the same way people have hurt us.” For Ellise, it’s the manner in which the sub-genre serves as the antithesis of the bubblegum aesthetic of pop. Since moving to Los Angeles from the Bay Area at the age of 17, she’s made it a tradition to release new music on or near Halloween, beginning with EPs Can You Keep A Secret? (2018) and Under My Bed (2019). Letting the Wolf In nips at the heels of her proper full-length debut from earlier this year, Chaotic; though Ellise has been prolific, there was something missing from “Soul Sucker.”

Originally produced by her brother LilSpirit, Chelsea Collins and Brandon Shoop, Ellise tweaked the vocal arrangements and production for “Soul Sucker, Pt. 2,” and wanted to activate the power of three in her own way. “I’ve never dropped a song with features on it. So I knew I really wanted to do that,” Ellise expands. “I just loved all the dynamics of that. I thought of Mothica because she has a very nice, powerful pop voice. Then I thought of Romy because I knew she would kill a sort of like, more minimal production section, and I’m really happy with how it came out.”

Mothica, who released her latest EP forever fifteen earlier this year, says she was drawn to the project because she was intrigued by Ellise’s work on Letting the Wolf In, and felt it mirrored her own. “All of us thematically cling to the darker imagery. I love her concept of turning fairytales into haunting dark pop, so when she reached out to have me on Soul Sucker Part 2, it was a no brainer to jump on it!” she says.

“I’ve admired Ellise and her project for a couple years now” DeathbyRomy adds. “I’m all for females supporting each other and bringing each other up. This industry can be extremely catty especially with women versus other women.” DeathbyRomy released her debut, Songs For My Funeral, earlier this year as well.

As with the first version of the song, “Soul Sucker, Pt. 2” immediately introduces Ellise’s clear, delicate vocals that bring to life a “beautiful vixen” with dark secrets. “Don’t get too lost in her arms/All she wants is a bite of your heart,” she warns before launching into a chorus where no one gets out alive. Sonically, the track sticks to the basics, keeping the verses bare of any overwhelming elements and allowing the listener to zero in on the singer’s haunting words.

Mothica and DeathbyRomy follow Ellise’s lead, painting practically tangible imagery in lyrics fleshed out with mainstay motifs such as the femme fatale, Satan worship, and mythological figures like Medusa. The trio play with these stereotypes to illustrate the ways in which women in horror and mythology have historically been dehumanized; their desire for obtaining power at any cost in turn makes them monstrous.

Mothica goes first, belting lines like “You drink it up but it’s dark magic/No room in her heart to be romantic/I don’t blame you, it’s hypnotic/Skeletons inside her closet.” In her considerably deeper register, DeathbyRomy narrates the demise of those who fail to recognize the warning signs: “Toxic lullaby/Kiss your comforts all good-bye/Turn you to stone with a look in her eye/But you love her all the same.”

When discussing the creative process with these three, the word seamless keeps coming up; it’s clear that this project wasn’t only a creative partnership but a collaboration between friends. Their ability to tap into each other’s psyche and create a similar tale whilst retaining their own sonic independence is testament to that.

“They really elevate and expand on the sound of it. Both of them really played off of the lyrics of what the song is already about, which is just like this dangerous… absolutely unbothered woman,” says Ellise. “Sonically, I think it added so much more like variation to the song. They both have incredible voices, but what’s awesome is that all three of us sound so different. You’re getting to hear all these different voices. It’s really cool to me. I’m very happy.”

DeathbyRomy agrees, saying, “Aesthetically we meld well… I think we all did our own thing, in our own way, and still maintained something very cohesive.”

“Soul Sucker, Pt. 2” offers yet another example of the power of female collaboration within an industry that continues to pit female performers against each other, while also adding dimension to the trope of the femme fatale as a complex, multi-layered being – one that resides within us all. As a cautionary tale, the song acts as a reminder not to let our toxic tendencies take hold, and instead reach out to those who will support and nourish us the way Mothica and DeathbyRomy have for Ellise.

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