Q&A: Northwestern indie pop musician Creed Elan talks songwriting as storytelling, value of personal voice


Madison Bratley/Daily Senior Staffer

Elan recorded her first single in her junior year of high school when her mother gifted her studio time for her birthday.

Esther Lim, Reporter

For McCormick freshman Creed Bellamy, who goes by her first and middle names Creed Elan on music platforms, the songwriting process is profoundly personal. 

Elan said her music is infused with stories surrounding her life and the people around her, taking listeners alongside her life journeys. From high school crushes to future uncertainties, Elan said the themes and topics she explores through music are snapshots of her phases in life.

Involved in musical theatre at an early age, Elan said entering the recording studio felt like a natural progression. When she’s not writing originals or performing for open mics, Elan can be found performing with her a cappella group, Freshman Fifteen, or rehearsing for “How We Got On,” a production coming to campus this spring. 

Ahead of her performance at this Sunday’s Notes from the Newsroom, Elan sat down with The Daily to talk about her approach to the songwriting process and her emphasis on the authenticity of her voice when crafting melodies. 

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

The Daily: Reflecting on your transition into college, what has been the role of music and songwriting during turning points in your life? 

Elan: Music has definitely always been a catharsis for me. Most of the things that I write are based on, if not my own personal experiences, the experiences of people I know. It’s just kind of been like a self-expression thing for a very long time. 

The Daily: What are some themes and topics that you like to explore through your songwriting?

Elan: Since college, I have a couple (of songs) that are about my uncertainty about the future — some about going through stuff with friends, some about crushes in high school and others I wrote about other people. One of the songs that I do have out right now, “Not Love,” was written about my friend and her boyfriend. I was talking about wanting an idea for a song, and then just — the floodgates opened. I was like, “That’s actually pretty good.”

The Daily: What does your songwriting process look like?

Elan: Usually it’ll start with a line. “Chapstick” started with, “She tastes like chapstick and good vibes.” Typically I write a first draft of a song in one sitting. Then, I’ll go back and there will be multiple iterations. I’ll go through four or five like versions before it becomes something that I’m like, “Oh, I kind of like this.”

The Daily: Who’s your biggest musical inspiration?

Elan: One of my main inspirations is Alec Benjamin. For me, it’s very important for a song to have a journey and not even necessarily a destination, but you’re not in the same place that you started after the song. I think a lot of his songs do that.

The Daily: What’s something you value in your songwriting? 

Elan: I feel like when I write something that I really like, a lot of the time, it’s a line that I feel is very me. Some lines, I won’t like as much if I feel like it’s kind of generic. I’m less happy with it as opposed to when you can hear me in it. 

The Daily: How has your music or approach to music changed or shifted over time as a songwriter, and what do you see in your future as a musician?

Elan: I’m kind of getting into the storyteller thing. I’m getting better at writing in that style. Before, I used to be very rigid in the structure of the song, but I feel like I’m loosening up a little bit with that. I have no idea where it’s going to go from there. I guess it’s because I write about things that are happening in my life — the vibe and the theme depends on where I am in my life. Yeah, I have zero predictions.

To catch Elan’s concert, tune into the livestream on Instagram or watch the recording on YouTube

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @EshLim1213

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