Photography by Samantha Hardy
Elise Solberg is a pianist, songwriter, composer and producer based in Los Angeles. In Tokyo, Japan, she was born into a musical family. Elise naturally gravitated towards everything music related. Her home was constantly filled with a variety of music; the luscious strings from Brahms’ symphonies, the melodic splendor of Frank Sinatra, and the sonic punch of Linkin Park. Her passion for many styles of music proved to stick with her for many years to come. Her parents both musicians, they noticed one day that she picked up the Japanese national anthem by ear and began re-harmonizing it at the age of four. Seeing her talents develop, her mother decided to advance her music education. Elise auditioned and was accepted into the Yamaha Advanced Piano Academy in Tokyo at the age of seven, until moving to Denver, Colorado a year later.
In Denver, she studied classical music and theory intensively under Dr. Fifi Hut, Dr. Richard Holbrook and Larry Graham. Elise performed extensive and challenging works by Ravel, Beethoven, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Chopin, Bach, Schumann, and more. As she gained more mastery in classical repertoire, her teachers encouraged her to enter competitions and music festivals. Elise won many prizes in competitions sponsored by Yamaha, Kawai, and Steinway, and attended the International Institute of Young Musicians for three years. She made her debut as a concerto soloist with an orchestra in 2013 with Parker Symphony playing Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue." In 2014, she won first prize in the Schmitt Music Competition and received an opportunity to perform Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto with the Breckenridge Festival Orchestra in August of 2014.
In the fall of 2014, Elise was admitted into Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. There, she began pursuing piano performance studies with a classical emphasis under Dr. Stewart Gordon. She continued intensive classical training and continued competing. Elise won prizes in the Sigma Alpha Iota Competition and Rio Hondo Young Artists Competition in 2017, and executed two solo recitals, both exceeding one hour in repertoire.
Although she thrived in the classical program, she picked up a keen interest in other areas of music. Observing her talented classmates in the other exciting programs of Thornton, she wanted to get involved. Picking up a Music Industry minor and taking courses in music technology, she gained experience recording and using Pro Tools. She pursued her interest in jazz by studying with beloved mentor, Russell Ferrante. In her final year, she immersed herself in the ground-breaking popular music program, headed by the great Patrice Rushen. The popular music program set a strong foundation for Elise in songwriting, arranging, producing, musical directing, and performance. She owes much of her popular music foundation to her mentor, Patrice Rushen, whom she has studied with. In March 2018, Elise became a finalist for the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. In the same month, she also received the opportunity to record her original song written with Jessi Mason at the notorious NRG studios, where she also discovered her passion for studio work. In May of 2018, Elise graduated from USC Thornton School of Music summa cum laude.
In June of 2018, she performed at the MTV Movie and TV Awards with GRAMMY nominees Chloe x Halle, which broadcasted nationally June 18th, 2018. In November of the same year, Elise performed again with Chloe x Halle on the "Late Late Show" with James Corden. She appeared as a pianist on hit ABC sitcom The Kids Are Alright in January of 2019, and has performed at the Spotify Pre-Grammy Party for Best New Artist Nominees with Chloe x Halle, and other performances. In 2020, Elise made an appearance as a pianist on NBC's The Unicorn. She became a prize-winner of Shed House Live's "Hope Is Contagious" contest, judged by award-winning music director/producer, Derek Dixie. She solely wrote, produced, recorded and filmed her winning submission, "Mama Said," in her bedroom during the COVID-19 pandemic. Later in 2020, Elise performed with Chloe x Halle for the coveted NPR's Tiny Desk Concert, Pepsi's Unmute Your Voice show, and the Verizon Up concert at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. She received the opportunity to record piano on Derek Dixie's "Lift Every Voice" arrangement for Chloe x Halle, for their televised performance on BET's Homecoming Tribute to HBCU's. She also performed as a pianist for the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project, for their 20th Anniversary Celebration. Not only did she get to perform, but honor her father, a US Air Force Veteran. For this special performance, she got to perform "In Love and War," written by legendary songwriter Roxanne Seeman and composer Charles Fox.
Elise has experience playing in multiple styles like pop, R&B, rock, jazz, and classical. She aspires to continue performing, composing, producing, and recording for the rest of her life.
She currently uses Ableton, MainStage, Logic Pro X, Yamaha MX88, Arturia Keylab 61 and Ultimate Ears Custom IEM's for live performances and recording.