Eliza & the Delusionals’ new single “Give You Everything” is a pop song in both style and substance. It’s the first track on the band’s upcoming debut album, Now and Then, and it sets the tone for the record that follows.
Eliza Klatt, the band’s titular lead vocalist, says the album was the best thing to come out of the pandemic for the four band members. But while “Give You Everything” catalysed the more pop-oriented sound of Now and Then, the song dates back to a pre-Covid world.
It was written in Los Angeles in February 2020, just after Eliza & the Delusionals finished a US tour supporting Silversun Pickups. Klatt and her songwriting partner, guitarist Kurt Skuse, wrote the song with pop heavyweights Sarah Aarons and John Hill.
“I had these chords that I was playing around with in the back of the bus while we were on tour,” says Skuse. “We fleshed that out and that became ‘Give You Everything’.”
Klatt launched Eliza & the Delusionals in 2016. Over the next few years, she worked with producer Konstantin Kersting (Tones and I, Mallrat) on a handful of singles, culminating in the band’s debut EP, The Deeper End, released independently in 2017.
The Deeper End got the attention of triple j and community radio around the country. The band’s overseas profile started to blossom with the release of 2019’s “Just Exist”. “Just Exist”—which remains Eliza & the Delusionals’ most popular song on streaming platforms—was the band’s first release through Cooking Vinyl Australia and the first Delusionals song on which Skuse received a co-writing credit.
Klatt, 25, and Skuse, 24, have known each other since they were kids. They grew up in the small town of Pottsville in northern New South Wales, halfway between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. The first Eliza & the Delusionals song they sat down and wrote together was “Sentimental”, which came out as a single in October 2020.
“Sentimental” was completed in the same co-writing session that gave rise to “Give You Everything”—a two-day stint in producer John Hill’s Venice Beach recording studio. Hill has worked with artists as varied as Eminem, Charli XCX, Wavves and Wu-Tang Clan; Sarah Aarons, an Australian songwriter based in LA, has written songs for Demi Lovato, Zedd, Peking Duk and Ruel. How did Klatt and Skuse end up in a room with the pair of pop maestros?
“I think Sarah’s manager reached out to our manager from what we were told,” says Skuse, “and we just happened to be in LA at the same time.”
“Give You Everything” is Eliza & the Delusionals’ most exoteric pop song to date. The band continues to inhabit similar terrain to emotive indie rock artists like Waxahatchee and Soccer Mommy, with a splash of Midwestern emo and a nod to ’90s heroes Liz Phair and Veruca Salt. Klatt’s a natural melodist and so nothing in the band’s back catalogue is particularly abstruse. But, with its synth hooks and the sidelining of heaving electric guitars, “Give You Everything” still feels like a departure.
“I remember we were like, ‘Is this too different for us?’” says Klatt. The answer? “We were like, ‘Well, do we like the song?’ And then, when we brought it home and finished the bridge and started bringing in the instruments to it, we were like, ‘Yeah, this is really sick.’”
The band’s previous single, “Save Me”, also emerged from an LA co-writing session. On this occasion, Klatt and Skuse worked with Keith Harris, a frequent collaborator of will.i.am and The Black Eyed Peas. But the majority of Now and Then was written in Pottsville under the cloud of the global pandemic.
Eliza & the Delusionals had big plans for 2020. After the Silversun Pickups tour, they were scheduled to appear at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, followed by a run of dates supporting beabadoobee. The virus had other plans, however, sending Klatt, Skuse, lead guitarist Ashley Martin and bass player Ruby Lee back home.
The silver lining is that, despite putting their career on pause, the enforced sabbatical allowed Klatt and Skuse’s songwriting partnership to flourish.
“Because The Deeper End and A State of Living [In An Objective Reality, EP, 2020] was predominantly a lot of my songwriting, it was nice to be collaborating with Kurt and looking at songwriting with fresh eyes,” Klatt says. “Kurt looks at the guitar such a different way than what I do. The chords and the tunings changed—it’s not just the same three power chords every time.”
The embrace of poppier sounds wasn’t contrived so much as it was a natural consequence of the pair’s changing influences and perspectives. One thing Klatt and Skuse agreed on was that they didn’t want to rehash the sounds and ideas they’d found success with in the past.
“Genre bending within an album or a body of work, I feel it’s super important,” Skuse says. “Things just change naturally. I feel like it’s unnatural to try and be the same the whole time.”
This commitment to creative growth is something Klatt and Skuse admire about their favourite artists. Paramore, for example: “They changed so much in their last two records and I think it’s the best music they’ve ever put out,” says Klatt. “The After Laughter album is literally one of my favourite things ever.”
Now and Then is out on Friday May 20th. Eliza & the Delusionals will premiere songs from the record at Suzie Wongs Good Time Bar in Brisbane as part of Sailor Jerry’s Road to Rolling Stone Australia Awards live music series.
Two years after their future was derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Eliza & the Delusionals are beginning to regain optimism.
“It’s feeling good now,” says Klatt. “As much as we hate the news—it’s so depressing—we are excited.”