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Ebony Loren Breaks Through The “Phone Static”

Written by on June 20, 2022

For Chicago singer-songwriter Ebony Loren, genuine connection is everything.

Ebony Loren is the budding young starlet to watch this summer. Originally from Milwaukee, the 21-year-old Chicago-based artist crafts sugary sweet acoustic pop with R&B and jazz influences. After graduating from Columbia College last month, Loren feels ready for a new creative phase of life, totally immersed in her own artistry.

Courtesy Ebony Loren, by Htet.

Loren has a deep-rooted passion for music. She started singing the moment she started to speak and began her individual songwriting journey around age 10 as a way to make sense of what was going on around her in the world. Eventually, her musical endeavors led her to perform and produce her first single, “Mine.” Soon after, her second release, a cover of Natalia Lafourcade’s “O Pato,” became an overnight sensation on TikTok, quickly reaching over 500,000 streams on Spotify.

Despite the success, Loren is no stranger to online fatigue. As a recent college graduate, the era of screen time became omnipresent as online classes took over the past two years. Between the rapid social media growth and days filled with countless notifications, the artist hit a moment of mental fog. Released this March, Loren’s newest single “Phone Static” explores this whirlpool of social media notifications, digital dependence and a yearning for organic, real-life moments. 

“’Phone Static’ is an expression of how much I longed for real, genuine connections following the pandemic.”

– Ebony Loren

After “Phone Static” was featured on Vocalo’s “In Rotation” playlist last month,  Ebony Loren broke down the new single, TikTok virality and her own life transition period.

You’re originally from Milwaukee. What drew you to Chicago?

I originally came to Chicago for college. I went to Columbia College Chicago, so I ended up living in Chicago for about three years.

We saw you just graduated  from Columbia College last month. Congratulations! What are you most excited for during this new chapter?

Thank you! I’m super excited to have more freedom now. I’m excited to finally have the time to put the majority of my focus into working on my music!

Kind of a cheesy question, I know, but what’s one of the most important things you learned from your time in college — either in the classroom or otherwise?

One of the most important things I learned during my time in college is how important it is to make connections with people. You never know how people might be able to help you out someday in the future, or the interesting ways in which you will cross paths again with people you met during school. It’s important to be open and to build good bridges.

How have you balanced college courses with your music career, especially when courses were online throughout the past couple of years? Do you feel like being virtual/ inside more often motivates you to be more creative, or did it slow your creative process (or did it not have much effect on your creative drive)?

Honestly, I feel like I thrived with my music and my creativity the most when everything was online, because I had the free time and the space to work on it more often from home. The only downside to doing school online was that I missed out on a lot of opportunities to take advantage of the useful things that my school offered, and I wasn’t able to rehearse with classmates or perform in person. But overall, I enjoyed the freedom that came with working from the comfort of my room. It definitely inspired more creativity in me. The beginning of the pandemic was when I first started posting on TikTok and began putting out my original music.

Can you tell us a little about your single “Phone Static”? What’s the story behind it?

“Phone Static” is a song about the struggles of isolation we all felt during the pandemic. Everything was moved to an online setting, and I felt mentally and emotionally drained from the lack of in-person contact. I was constantly feeling fatigue from staring at screens all day in order to maintain my work, and relationships, so “Phone Static” is an expression of how much I longed for real, genuine connections following the pandemic.

What was it like working on the music video for “Phone Static”? How did the video evolve throughout its filming process?

Filming the music video for “Phone Static” was some of the most fun I’ve had working on a project. We filmed everything in just two days, but each day we were filming from the morning until late at night, so it was a lot of work. It was filmed in LA with an amazing group of creative individuals, and I’m so happy with how it turned out!

We loved your cover of Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” with the Filharmonic! Tell us a little bit about your experience working with them.

Singing with the Filharmonic and hanging out with the guys was one of the highlights of my trip out to LA! I’ve known them since briefly meeting them at the ASCAP Expo back in 2017, but we hadn’t met since then, so I was so glad we got to cross paths again and actually get to sing together this time!

Explain the story behind your cover of “O Pato.” What was your initial reaction to the song’s positive reception on TikTok?

I discovered Natalia Lafourcade back in 2017 when I began learning Spanish, and I always loved her Spanish version of “O Pato” (original song in Portuguese by João Gilberto). It was a song that I always loved to sing, so one day, I decided to post a video of me singing it on TikTok, and it was my first viral video. I was flooded with requests to make a full version, so when I finally released my own full length cover, I was so happy that it was well-received!

When, why and how did you teach yourself to play guitar and piano?

I began teaching myself how to play piano in elementary school, and then I started to teach myself guitar when I was about 12 years old. I remember listening to songs on the radio and then challenging myself to see if I could learn to play them by ear. I would also look up tutorials on youtube for how to play specific songs, and over time I had a handle on how to accompany myself and songwrite on guitar and piano.

Courtesy Ebony Loren, by Htet.

Do you remember the first song you learned to play? How did it feel to play a song in its entirety, without messing up, for the first time?

I remember the first song I ever learned to play in full was “Paper Hearts” by Tori Kelly. This song involved some newer chords for me and some finger picking, so I was so excited when I finally figured it out!

When you think back on the time when you first learned how to play music, what’s something you wish you knew then that you know now?

One thing that I learned over time is that knowing music theory is not essential to make music. I did learn a good amount of theory, just because I was interested in it, but once you get out into the industry, you realize no one really cares that much, and you shouldn’t think you have to follow all theory “rules” to make music that people will love.

What’s next for Ebony Loren? Anything listeners should look out for?

I’ll be moving out to LA soon, and I’ll continue to work on creating music that I love. I have a few projects in mind that I am extremely excited about, but I’m not announcing them just yet. Just know that there is so much more new music, and a few collaborations, coming sooner than later, and I cannot wait to be able to share it with everyone!

Follow Ebony Loren on Instagram and TikTok, and stream her music on Spotify below.

Written by Makenzie Creden

Interview by Morgan Ciocca and Milo Keranen

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