The New York-born singer-songwriter Julissa Ruiz, better known as Eli Jas has been taking the Latin music scene by storm for some time. Having a mix of Dominican, Panamanian, and Chilean roots, she was beyond determined to use her creative genius to connect with the world with her eclectic and ethereal Fusion of R&B and Latin pop, capturing the hearts of so many with her raw and beautiful soul.
TUC had the pleasure of speaking with her about her creative process, musical beginnings, and inspirations behind her music.
Breanna: When and what inspired you to first get into music?
Eli: Since I can remember, music has always inspired me to express myself. Music was my outlet. I’ve always been an R&B junkie and incorporated different genres. It didn’t matter the song, I made it my own sound. I really look up to people with powerful voices such as Brian McKnight as his tone of voice is velvety and his energy is magnetic as heard through his music. He expresses his emotions in his music as Lauryn Hill, Joe, and Aaliyah to name a few. Being Latina, I grew up listening to La India, Marc Anthony, Laura Pausini, Miriam Hernandez and so many more. Music is a vibe to me so if it fits into my music then you will most likely hear touches of it in my original music heard today.
Breanna: Would you say growing up in the melting pot of New York shaped your artistry at all?
Eli: Oh for sure. Just the fact that I’m able to walk down any block and meet people from different cultures is beautiful. Being born here, I’m basically an Americanized Latina. I’m a mixed Latina as well. I’m Dominican, Chilean, and Panamanian so putting my cultures on the map is something that I feel is really important. I grew up in a Dominican culture but I was still able to mix my other backgrounds and its genres and making a sound of my own. So that’s something that I think is special about me and sets me apart from others living in New York since I am literally a representation of this melting pot and I’m proud of that. I feel like I am a representation of the new generation of Latinos.
Breanna: Do you have any rituals to help you get into your creative process?
Eli: For sure. I’m very into energies. I’m a very spiritual person. Every time I get into the studio, I always make sure that I have my teas and honey. I like to make sure my voice is on point. When it comes to the creative process such as coming up with melodies and writing, I like to use my personal experiences in order for myself to shine through. I take life as it comes and I use whatever ammunition the divine gives me in order to send out messages through my music.
Breanna: What are some of your fondest musical memories?
Eli: One of my favorite musical memories was the making of “No Me Podras Olvidar”. I had to channel an old heartbreak and I used music to get me through the healing process. The way I sang on that track and the fact that I did tear after recording it was my breakthrough because it showed me that vulnerability is not a weakness but a strength. The strength to let go and start something new. We evolve.
Breanna: What was the inspiration behind your songs ’Soy Yo’ and “Tu Me Haces Volar”?
Eli: ‘Soy Yo’ is about not conforming and not letting society change you. I felt like I wanted to encourage others, especially women, that there are no limits to us. We are the designers of our reality. I’m in control of this. I’m in control of what I choose to do with my life and I’m in charge of the people that I have around me, I’m in charge of what I let in, I’m in charge of what I let go. And I feel like the message of the track is powerful. Being a feminine power and energy, we are usually seen as sexual beings but that is only one of our many layers. I believe sometimes you have to teach people how to love and treat you, so when you respect yourself it shows others what type of person you are, and you have to stand your ground whether they like it or not. As for my first single ‘Tu Me Haces Volar’, produced by Chris Hierro, it was about my first love and the same person I wrote about in “No Me Podras Olvidar” which I did my own thing while keeping my R&B flow and adding the classic bachata feel to it, thus resulting in Bachata Pop & R&B. My fusion of music is “Spanglish” – a fusion of different cultures which represents who I am.
Breanna: Besides writing music and singing, do you have any other talents that we don’t know about?
Eli: I am always going to identify myself as an artist of different layers. I am exploring Acting which has always been a goal of mine since before I figured out music was my outlet of expression. I’m learning that music isn’t my only way of expression. I’m into fashion, film, and beauty. I am sure I’ll be able to show these sides of me slowly but surely. Everything has it’s timing.
Breanna: Do you have any favorite social media platforms to connect with other artists and fans?
Eli: I really like Instagram and Facebook to connect with my #JasFam. It enables them to see me LIVE whenever I want, and the energy is organic and fun. They know they have that connection with me and I’m always here for them as they are for me.
Breanna : What is some advice that you would give to somebody that wants to pursue music or any other form of artistry?
Eli: I would advise them to find their own sound and it doesn’t matter if it takes them a while to figure that out. You have to take your time. You have to really get into yourself to really learn who you are as a person and who you are as an artist because they are two different people. At the end of the day, you have to know that some people are not going to like you, some people will love you, and some people are going to say negative and positive things about you. What matters is what you think of yourself and the love you have for yourself which is what will keep you going. You have to believe in yourself for others to do the same. If you believe in yourself and have a persistent work ethic you will see your dream become a reality.
Breanna : What does True Urban Culture mean to you?
Eli: True Urban Culture means diversity. It’s being true to yourself yet versatile at any one time. True Urban Culture isn’t the norm that people expect but it is the representation of the new generation in its rawness and authenticity as human beings and artists.
All Photos courtesy of Edwin Navarrete of “The Navarrete Group”. And special thanks to Eli and her management team.