Eliki, a Chicago native and world-traveling artist is known for her sweet and soulful tone. A Chicago native, Eliki grew up in a home filled with Greek culture and musical inspiration. After attending Columbia College & DePaul University where she studied Jazz and Acting, she moved to New York City to pursue her vision of success, sharing her gift of singing with the world. She has released at least 20 projects, collaborating with artists such as Ski Beatz, Nitty Scott MC, and DJ Amore. Her projects have garnered the attention of producers in New York City and as far as Johannesburg, South Africa. She has toured in Europe, providing lead background vocals for the Lakecia Benjamin European Tour in 2016 and has performed in New York on stages headlining at SOB’s, LPR, and Jazz at Lincoln Center to name a few.
With all of those accolades, one would think that she would be famous… regularly on your T.V. screen, opening for your favorite music performer or something? Right? Amazingly enough, Eliki has become best known for serenading New York City on the Transit Lines. Yep. She has garnered the attention of millions of tourists, residents and aliens passing through New York City over the course of 6 years, performing on the platforms and trains of the subways, serenading them with her soulful sounds.
I met Eliki about a year after she started doing her thing on the train, and couldn’t stop thinking, “She is crazy AF”. As we shared chips and guacamole over dinner with mutual friends, I was in awe. She is such a natural beauty, inside and out, yet she is incredibly humble and wise, constantly praising others and acknowledging their greatness, sharing amazing stories and her quiet wisdom… listening with intensity to every word that she hears. She might be crazy AF, but she’s so dope. I am constantly learning something from Eliki every time we hang out, but at times before it is truly visible. Her spirit overflows with love and gratitude, despite the daily struggles of living in New York City as a Creative.
She struck a chord with me, so I invited her to share her energy with you.
Gayima: Let’s get into it! What kind of drugs do you like?
Eliki: Ha! Green. All day.
Gayima: Dog or Cat?
Eliki: I love Dogs. My Dog’s name is Vega. She’s a spaniel and you can find her in my videos.
Gayima: Shoe brand of choice?
Eliki: I’ve been wearing Chucks lately, but I will always love Converse & Adidas.
Gayima: The last city you couch surfed in and why?
Eliki: Oh. Detroit with my homegril Erica Peeples. We met at Columbia and I always end up on someone’s couch when we drive back Midwest. She and I have had some fun times. We attract fun moments. Shout out to E who will be starring in the feature film True to the Game.
Gayima: The wildest thing you’ve ever done to make money?
Eliki: Playing on the Trains of New York. I get this rush every time, but I love it!
Gayima: Now the fun stuff. What’s your take on marriage?
Eliki: It’s possible. (Long stare…deep sigh).
Gayima: Do you think music and marriage go together?
Eliki: Yes, but you need a partner and friend who can be a fierce lover. Not as easy as it seems but possible.
Gayima: Polygamous or Monogamy?
Eliki: Ask me in a year… Yeah lol
Gayima: What is the most interesting way that you have met someone that inspired your music?
Eliki: I was walking home from a long shift at Birdland it was August 2008. I was their youngest manager. It was Monday because I came from Cast Party that night. The owner Gianni let me sing. When I finished I was high off life. We closed. I made my way out but something told me to walk it so I bought myself a daisy and walked to Union Square from 45th. I bought a loose, a nasty habit NYC gifted me with. I took off my shoes to rub my feet on a what seemed to be an empty set of stairs in front of Whole Foods on 14th. I was so damned tired before heading back on the train to Bensundhurst. But I lit the cigarette and looked up at the sky. I wanted to zone out. Feel free. I started thinking about my life and it’s direction, I was unwinding. All of the sudden I heard “What are you doing?” I said thinking. Then we locked eyes, this handsome mohawk stylin’ NYC skateboarder said stop thinking so much and come with me we’ll watch the sunrise at Coney Island! I don’t know how to explain it but I saw his soul and it was like we picked up where we left off another life perhaps. So I said sure, and so we did. The ride I hated became filled with chemistry and movie word exchanges. It was synchronicity at it’s finest. When we got to the water it was as if that beach had been waiting for us since it was made. We kissed on the rocks there. Sandpipers were chasing waves. It was surreal. The Wonder Wheel was right behind us. It didn’t seem real. Never have I ever or will I ever be so taken as I was by him and that beautiful night. When I write about love he’s always so obviously there. He was beautiful. He was my muse for a few years and will always be an inspiration in one way or another as he died tragically in 2015. But I’m grateful because he taught me love and now he lives in my songs! RIP Travis Daniel Beckwith thanks for your undying inspiration.
(This gave me chills. This struck a chord. Ya’ll should hear one of her new songs inspired by him… sigh).
Gayima: Since music is your life, what do you do to have fun | unwind?
Eliki: I like to go chill out at Soul In the Horn. DProsper and Natasha Diggs create a magical place. It’s still music, but I usually just chill and dance and enjoy the energy of the people there. It’s dope.
Gayima: Have you travelled to a city for your craft that you would pick up and move to in a heartbeat?
Eliki: Yes! Brussles. It’s amazing! It’s a city filled with people like us. Creatives. And their art is embraced and respected. The city is beautiful and historic, and rich in history and personality. It’s charming. I love it. I was so sad when they bombed that airport. That place is so beautiful.
Gayima: What city was the most disappointing and why?
Eliki: Paris. Everyone outside of music venues were not cool. They weren’t “Smurfy” (lol). They were extremely rude and snobbish if you didn’t speak French. I had heard that they were like this, but I didn’t want to believe it. However, I experienced myself and was extremely disappointed.
Gayima: Where do you foresee your music endeavors within the next 6 months?
Eliki: Releasing new music and traveling to perform.
Gayima: What do you think defines an Indie Artist?
Eliki: A muthafuckin’ hustla that can earn money from their talent.
Gayima: Do you believe that you have maximized the potential to earn income from your art?
Eliki: No. I’m scratching the surface. It’s a hustle. I lived off my art for 6 years but recently took on a part time to help push my music.
Gayima: What advice would you share with other Indie Artists?
Eliki: Listen this is a hard business. Take care of your voice. Never give up on yourself. Invest in your music because nobody will do it for you. Work and collab with anyone you see fit. You never know where it can take you. Keep an open mind. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! Don’t give it away… as my homie Leah Beabout would say!
Gayima: Thank you for your energy. You have always struck a chord with me.
Eliki: Awwww. You’re so great. I love you man. You’re so dope!
Eliki shares her gift on Instagram and Facebook. Follow her and receive your dose of Eliki Energy every day. If you’re in NYC, keep your eyes up and ears open. You may see her performing around a city subway station near you… if not a stage in your city.
Eliki is also a founding member of the Leather Trench Coat Mafia.