Exclusive: Elijah Blake Premieres '6' / 'Fallen' Video; Talks Upcoming 'Drift' EP

Kate Glicksberg

Elijah Blake photographed in New York City

The singer-songwriter will release his 'Drift' EP in September.

It takes bravery to be as transparent as Elijah Blake is in his new single, "6."

The first single off the singer-songwriter's upcoming EP, Drift, sheds light on the gloom that hovers over Blake's childhood. Check out the accompanied music video below, premiered here on The Juice. The Sean Alexander-directed video features two songs, "6" and "Fallen."

"6"-- produced by No I.D. and James Poyser -- gives listeners a glimpse into the tumultuous relationship Blake had with his biological father as a child, and his traumatizing introduction to religion.

"Six-years old and I'm staring at a movie screen/ In a dark sanctuary, shaking, watching images of the beast/ Repeated nightmares, can't even sleep at 23/ Thanks a lot dad, now I'm stuck with fucking PTSD," he belts. "Now my relationships suffer, I can't lead a normal life/ But your philosophies daddy, said it's alright to scare off to Christ/ So when I'm 'selfish' and 'needy' or I act like a spoiled brat, just try to function normally with a mother playing mom and dad."

Elijah Blake Releases 'Bijoux 22' EP: Listen

"6" will be featured on Blake's upcoming EP, Drift, slated for a September release. The official date of the project will be announced two weeks from now, alongside the release of a second music video.

We caught up with Blake before the video premiere to talk about the story behind "6" and the difference between Drift and his major label debut.

Billboard: "6" is a powerful song. Was it tough to go with it as your first single?
Elijah Blake: We did this song about a year and a half-ago. People were saying I should go with something upbeat or rhythmic but No I.D. said no. He said, "Good music is good music. The world needs to hear this." But, he let me figure out what the [first] single should be. I wasn't sure if it should be "6" at first, because it's so personal and it's a ballad. But, then we heard [John Legend's] "All of Me" and Sam Smith's "Stay With me" on the radio and it cemented what he said. We went with it.

It's hard for me to watch the video. I don't like to watch it. It's one thing to zone out in the studio and let out all your emotions ou, but when you put it into a visual spectrum and you're watching it with other people… it's hard; It's gets a little too vivid.

Tell me about the song's story.
All your mannerisms are developed when you're 6-years old, such as who you are or if you're a glass half full or glass half empty type of person. I looked back to what I went through when I was a 6-year old. I went through religion being shoved down my throat and my biological dad being the Island guy who was really strict and pulled out the belt for everything. It affects me till this day, like how I am in relationships. I still have a hard time trusting people.

Has your dad heard it?
My biological father hasn't heard it. When we [artists] sign up for this -- to use our stories to help somebody deal better with a familiar situation -- it's not about ourselves; Now, other guys can hear this story and think, 'He went throughout this. I'm not crazy feeling this type of way too.'

What I won't say about my father, though, is that he's a deadbeat; he's not. He definitely went out of his way to be in my life. But, there were certain times that my mom pushed him away because she didn't want me to be like him. He's an Island guy who is set in his ways, and that's the only way he knew how to discipline.

But, I also witnessed be my mother function as a mother and a father. She taught me things he should have taught me, while having three jobs.

How does your mom feel about this song?
She understands that I'm using it to express myself. Some of the things that she's hearing she never knew about.

That must've been hard for her. The latter part of the song is about your experience with religion…
When I was 6 I didn't understand it, especially when it was being shoved down my throat. I was told, 'This is Jesus. This is the bible. This is what it is.' I couldn't think or say otherwise. I put in the song, 'Are we praising God or are we praising religion.' Now, thankfully, I'm so close to God and have strong relationship with him.

How does "6" fit within your upcoming EP?
I'm calling the EP Drift because I want people to play it and find themselves in my world, and see how our worlds are connected. When Jay [Brown] heard it, he said: "I get who Elijah Blake is as a person. I get you." And, that's all I want. I want fans to know who I am.

Drift is a train of thought. This is what I've been going through; It's the mind state that I'm in when I'm upset with myself, with the label… everything.

Elijah Blake Talks Upcoming 'Songs About Melody' Album, Performs Two Songs

How different is Drift from your Def Jam debut album?
The album is more so a storyline; It's about what I went through with my girlfriend at the time, and things you learn from your first love.

Will "Drop Dead Beautiful" -- which is one of my favorites -- be on the EP or the album?
[Laughs] We're leaving that for the album; it goes with the story.

Is it still called, Songs About Melody?
As of right now, yeah. It's coming top of the coming year.

It's been almost two years since the release of Bijoux 22, why so long?
You wouldn't believe how long artists have [had] to wait to put out an album. When people look in from the outside, they blame the artist for the delay; not knowing, I've had the album ready. Six months after I was signed I turned over the album. But, because of internal label politics, I had to hold off. I don't blame the fans. The label doesn't owe them an explanation, I do. But, no more waiting, no more fear and no more over-thinking.

No I.D. gets the new generation but… I feel like a lot of the industry are used to an old approach; It's hard for them to grasp the new social media generation. They're excited but sometimes they don't know how to approach it and that brings over-thinking; Then we're waiting for another a few days.

My music deserves a fair chance. I deserve a fair chance, so I took things into my own hands. I paid for all the visuals for this EP from out of my own pockets. I didn't want to wait for the label. I'm ready. If it's ready to go why make the fans wait? I want to get to the next chapter in my life.

"6" is a great way to start a new chapter; It feels freeing.
If you bury something or pile on top of it, it only makes the situation have more of a rule over you. Let's just be honest about our situations and it won't have such a chokehold on the rest of our lives.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.