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Photo: Jenn Five
Photo: Jenn Five

ElyOtto Flips Chaos into Catchiness on HELLSCAPE SUBURBIA

The ascendant hyperpop star captures the disorienting mania of his life through appropriately mirrored music. 

by Ben Boddez

When ElyOtto spoke to RANGE last year, the Calgary-based teenage hyperpop sensation mentioned that a major reason for the overall air of boundary-pushing chaos that his music encapsulates is because of his diagnosis with ADHD, attempting to make music that would appeal to the frenetic mind-state and short attention span of a similarly neurodivergent listener. Already inducing a sense of rush and panic in the opening seconds, a voice shouts “Elliott, we’re leaving in five minutes” before the opening track catapults unsuspecting listeners into a world of brightly coloured synths, joyously bouncy basslines and a digitized rock riff underneath it all.

Hyperpop has always been somewhat of a safe space for marginalized communities of all kinds due to its lack of structure, reclamation of childhood, and punk-adjacent rule-breaking attitude, and ElyOtto’s debut EP continues to explore themes of the celebrations and challenges associated with his transgender identity while deconstructing just about every possible aspect of pop music in the process. With stories laced throughout of ElyOtto being criticized for “impulsive” behaviour in his childhood, missed romantic connections at a 100 gecs concert – hyperpop pioneers who clearly have an influence on ElyOtto’s work – and sudden flips into death metal and children’s nursery rhymes, these tracks coast on catchy melodies played through blown-out speakers and capture a certain kind of manic energy that you won’t be able to find elsewhere. Semi-satirical flips of the cultural norms of a certain area are commonplace in hyperpop as well, and ElyOtto mines his Albertan roots by giving his genre a country twinge on some of the most hilarious and invigorating tracks here with what essentially sounds like chiptuney, MIDI-style banjo loops.

Whatever the case, this 18-year-old manages to cram more surprises and novel ideas into eight relatively brief tracks than most working musicians put into their full-length albums. Hyperpop’s lasting power remains to be seen, but artists like ElyOtto are certainly making a case for its legacy. 

Best Track: “DAYZEE”