Why Moving To LA Helped Party Nails Make Pop Music

Elana Belle Carroll, who sings under the moniker Party Nails, didn’t have any interest in writing pop music until she moved to Los Angeles.

While before she’d been reluctant to collaborate with others, and described herself as wary of any pop sounds in her work, she quickly realized her favorite songs were all vocal-driven, and made by more than one person—and they were all songs she could dance to.

“Prior to moving, I was into making weird, long-form electronic ‘pieces’ with vocal melodies peppered in. And sometimes I would write a country song,” she said, describing her transition to the West Coast. “But then I was like, oh shit, I feel like I can write [a pop song]? How can I do that? And the answer was to hone my singing and writing skills, and let go of the idea that I could do it all myself. And LA killed my seasonal depression, so all my brooding bits are less prominent—that definitely plays a role in the music I have made since being here.”

Her influences from other genres have helped her build a unique sound. She listens to classical guitar music — “Fernando Sor is the man!” — and obsesses over The Knife.

“I’ve always been into the mix of colloquial and over-the-top themes you hear in early blues and country music, like Blind Boy Fuller and Hank Williams, and their tight adherence to rhyming structures and creative couplets.” she explained. “Then I heard the Knife, and became obsessed with how sounds and voices can transform. And they were working with vocal transformations years before it became mainstream.”

She explains her fascination with pop in a way rarely articulated by musicians who make the kind of music she does.

“Pop is a puzzle that you create and put together all at once,” Elana said. “It’s not one melody that we show in a variety of settings, it’s not just some cool beats and vibes, and it’s not just some cool lyrics. It’s about love, or feeling lonesome, or about having a good time—but there’s a million different experiences of these things that are all worth articulating. All of these elements are just so in good pop. And that’s just a puzzle I love to try to create and solve, over and over again.”

And with a name like Party Nails, we had to ask: what are her nails like? What songs would she play at a party?

“I usually keep my nails short and when I want party nails, I get a dip glitter mani. It’s like a fucking glitter drum set on your fingers, so basically pure joy,” she finished up. “And for a party? Maybe I’d just play Whitney Houston’s ‘How Will I Know’ three times over.”

Photo courtesy of Lindsey Byrnes

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