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Transgender artist releases anthem of empowerment and unapologetic self-expression in latest EP

Transgender pop artist Ellie at a photoshoot for her new extended play (EP) “FORBIDDEN FRUIT.” The EP celebrates transgender identity and is a representation of empowerment and unapologetic self-expression. PHOTO COURTESY OF SYRA SPARKLE

Transgender artist Ellie turns the ancient myth of the Garden of Eden on its head, crafting a lush and sonically intricate extended play (EP) that is a vibrant celebration of transgender identity and a powerful rebuttal to transphobic hate. Released on June 14, “FORBIDDEN FRUIT” redefines the concept of being forbidden, transforming it into an anthem of empowerment, resilience and unapologetic self-expression.

“The ultimate inspiration [for the EP] comes from the villainous persona that transphobes put on me. And taking that on with my own autonomy,” Ellie said. “Basically saying, Okay, you want to call me all of these names, you want to say that I am XYZ – fine. I’ll do what you want, but you’re gonna regret it.”

The EP’s six unique pop-rock tracks take the listener on a journey of self-confidence, introspection, female rage and self-empowerment. Ellie delicately balances transgender celebration and self-love with a clapback to transphobes through authenticity. 

“It’s really important to find the joy in the heartache and hardships, not as a way to utilize toxic positivity but as a way to say ‘yeah, these [transphobes] suck,’” Ellie said. “But these people are not the people that matter. I matter, and I want to celebrate myself and my [transgender identity].”

I AM THE FIRE,” the opening track, takes on a melodic tone surrounded by reverberant synthesizers, a rhythmic beat and an influx of church-reminiscent chimes. The brilliant production and front-and-center lyrics work harmoniously to establish a dark, angry tone that pervades the EP. 

“I didn’t come to play around,” Ellie said. “‘I AM THE FIRE’ lyrically creates the thesis statement of the EP. You try to destroy me, but you don’t recognize that I am the exact thing that can destroy me and because of that I will not be destroyed.” 

The song builds with a demonic-like bass and whirling chimes, accompanied by rhythmic drums. It abruptly ends, thrusting listeners into the next track, “What Is It About Me?”, without a moment to recuperate.

“Since [the first track] is so dark and intensely lyrical, I wanted the next song to live in the same sonic world but had a bit more coyness and a bit more sarcasm to it,” Ellie said.

The track kicks off with an electric four-bar riff that is repeated throughout, setting a strong rhythmic foundation. When crisp claps and predictable thumps of a drum jump in, the song becomes a playful dare — a sonically pulsating invitation. Over this infectious beat, the lyrics punctuate the flirtatious space with an air of taunting whispers and deception. 

Not Like Other Girls” takes a sharp turn from the previous tracks, shedding the heavier sounds for a lighter, air-like melody. Ellie’s potent yet catchy lyrics explore “the reality that many men view trans women as exotic fetishes to play with.”

“The trope of the quote is ‘Oh, you’re not like other girls, you’re different. You’re special.’ – Like, yeah, I’m fully f***ing aware, man, I don’t need you to tell me that,” Ellie added. “So I wanted to play around with that. And tack on that I’m actually much worse than other girls. And the fact that you have intentionally tried to get in my pants is not really a good look for you.”

The song’s aura transforms into something undeniably flirty but also menacing. It’s frisky and teasing, like a mischievous wink across the dance floor. But beneath the surface lurks a danger. As the hook kicks in with the song-defining line, “I’m not like other girls / I’m much worse,” the electric guitar comes in with one of the most ear-pleasing sounds one could ever hear. But it’s more than just a sonic shift. 

“When those guitars come in, it feels like peeling off the mask and saying ‘Okay, this is actually what you signed up for. And now I’m going to make your life a living hell, but I needed to trap you in my spiderweb first,’” Ellie said.

The song’s debut in the EP wasn’t just to meet a minimum song requirement — it tells a broader story. Ellie began writing “Not Like Other Girls” back in 2019 when she was nonbinary. 

“I was very shocked that I had been starting to write a song like this, even before I had publicly come out as a trans woman or even knew that I was trans myself,” Ellie said. “So it felt like it needed to wait until now.”

Transgender pop artist Ellie at a photoshoot for her new EP “FORBIDDEN FRUIT.” PHOTO COURTESY OF SYRA SPARKLE

Transitioning into “Want to Know You,” Ellie returns to the same irresistible pop-rock beat and electrical guitar riffs. The rhyme sequence in the lyrics, combined with harmonized vocals and intricate production, creates a track that furthers Ellie’s story that she has been sharing throughout the EP thus far: ignoring the hate and embracing herself.

But is it possible to truly not care what others think about you? The fifth song, “Too Far to Fall,” taps into what happens when you do care. The sound and vocals represent this shift from the previous songs by adopting a more melancholic melody. 

“I wanted to take time to really reflect on myself. ‘How am I doing? What do I need right now?’ And I wanted it to be a bit of a sonic reprieve from the rest of the EP,” Ellie said. “And I also wanted to take stock of the person that I am as opposed to the character that I play.”

Not only is this song Ellie’s way of reflecting on her person, but it prompts the listener to introspect through the thoughtfully crafted lyrics such as “I feel better in my own skin,” “didn’t let these intrusive thoughts win” and “a lot of good came with the rocks and the falls.” 

The cumulative track, “FORBIDDEN FRUIT,” brings back explosive drum beats, electrifying guitar sequences and declarative statements like in “I AM THE FIRE.” It ultimately creates a track filled with self-empowerment and self-love. Even though much of the EP speaks to the transgender experience, the themes of learning to love yourself and not caring about what others think of you are universal.

“Because I’m trans, I have more eyes on me for various different reasons, especially as one who is an artist. So when I think about the political climate … I think about the importance of resistance in the form of joy even when there are hundreds of laws that aim to take down LGBTQ+ people,” Ellie said. “I hope that with this EP and with the title track being ‘FORBIDDEN FRUIT’ people listen to it and they hear a trans person in the face of adversity intentionally experiencing joy.”

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About the Contributor
Jenna Zaza
Jenna Zaza, Arts & Culture Editor
Jenna Zaza is The Statesman's Arts and Culture Editor. She is a second-year journalism major with a minor in Korean studies and on the fast-track MBA program. When she is not writing, she is probably reading a book with a cup of coffee in hand.
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