Elly Shane displays honesty in ‘Tripwire’

Elly Shane is staring into the camera. She is standing in front of a large leafy bush and wearing a cream colored sweatshirt.
Elly Shane, a sophomore studying music industry, blends honesty and creativity on her upcoming EP “Tripwire.” (Photo courtesy of Elly Shane)

From a young age, singing has been second nature for Elly Shane. Since the age of two, Shane, a sophomore majoring in music industry, maintained impeccable pitch, and from there, she passionately pursued every opportunity to sing — at church, school performances and the professional level. After working with fellow USC students, Shane plans to show off her developing artistry with her debut EP “Tripwire.”  

Including previously released singles “Sense of Gravity” (of which the music video received over 21,000 views on YouTube) and “Enemies,” “Tripwire” — releasing April 22 — is a collaborative project with friend and producer Ryan Baer, a sophomore majoring in music industry. In their dorm rooms between classes, the EP is a final product of their tireless daily writing and recording sessions. 

“We hit the ground running when we moved in August,” Shane said. “We started working everyday on the EP. And so, I’d go to class, and then come back, and we would have a writing session. And then I would record and edit, and go to class, and homework and edit.” 

Combined with Baer’s futuristic and alternative R&B and hip hop beats and Shane’s rich vocals, “Tripwire” reflects influences of ’90s R&B elements and artists such as Brandy, Rihanna and Snoh Aalegra. Pushing the boundaries of various styles, Shane and Baer imagined “Tripwire” as a visual narrative that shows off Shane’s vocal versatility and personality. The tracklist is an emotional exploration of breaking away from the past and reaching for new connections. 

Shane notes that the “Sense of Gravity,” the first track of the EP, is “home for [her] as an artist” because she loved the beat. Pairing the beat with conversational lyrics such as, “If you’re beaten down feeling lonely / Don’t think of her, think about me instead,” this song ssuspends the listener in a plush headspace woven by Shane’s rich vocals and Baer’s futuristic production. 

“He’s Not You/Safeword” might be the most captivating track of the EP, with its soft ballad beginning that gradually builds with resounding R&B beats and ends with a flourishing electric guitar solo. Shane said that this song was the most difficult for them to piece together because of its several unique features. 

“It was like, ‘How do we create this masterpiece that is not all over the place but takes you on a journey?’ And that’s why I love that song,” Shane said. “It starts so simple and then it ends huge, which [performing] live is gonna be insane.” 

For Shane, “Tripwire’’ is a monumental project resulting from her newfound partnership with Baer and the community of like-minded creative students she found at USC. As opposed to previously working alone and following instructions from older-aged producers in her hometown of Denver, Colorado, the students Shane has met since moving to Los Angeles transformed her perceptions of music and expression, learning that “spontaneity and creativity together is just magical.” 

“Coming to L.A., I was able to bring all of my issues, struggles, feelings and challenges in mental health and trauma and trust issues and things that are universal and finally connect that with a bigger community of artists,” Shane said. “I [found] a lot of similarities with myself and other people through music.” 

As a result of such connections, Shane’s mother, Amy, believes that her daughter’s music positively reflects her maturing perceptions, from balancing her passion to fostering supportive friendships and creative relationships. 

“I think, actually, her music is even better because of that — because she’s living her life,” Amy said. “Music is a part of her life now — still [a] very significant part — but she, by living life, she has something to write about, she has something to sing about [and] to sing for. It gives her a much broader depth.” 

Baer expressed similar thoughts on the effectiveness of a supportive environment, relating that “Tripwire” is an example of how Elly, himself and their friends helped push each other to improve artistically. 

“The most important thing creatively for someone to feel is like they’re in an environment where they’re being supported and being pushed, and I hope that people will see this project as this USC-bred environment where everyone came together and worked,” Baer said. “An environment where everyone learned and got better.”

Elly says she will follow honesty and creativity wherever it leads her, taking her past experiences as lessons to further hone her craft and expressions as a person and artist.

“I think the best songs on the EP were the ones that were the most honest,” Elly said. “And, it’s a learning process to learn how to write honestly and not filter yourself to what you think people wanna hear, [and] to think about how you want people to view you because, sometimes when you’re honest, the world may hate you for what you say, but it’s still really important to say it.”

“Tripwire” will be available on all streaming platforms on April 22, and Elly will perform the EP live at Tirebiter Brewery May 4.