Elina Filice – First World Problems

We’ve all been there; you’re watching a local band in a bar and thoroughly enjoying their original material when they say those dreaded words – “And now we’re going to do a cover version of one of our favourite songs“. Chances are that it’s a cover version of a song that you really like also. The band think they’re Rock Gods and begin to play completely overlooking the dynamics that made the song initially so great. You have to walk away as you feel the anger rising.

Ok – perhaps we’ve not all been there and maybe it’s just me? But I don’t deal with live covers well. And don’t even get me started on tribute bands. I realise that people gravitate towards familiarity when out and about (or at least did when they could go out). For me, originality is the key.

You won’t find many covers featured on Sonic Breakfast for this very reason. The exceptions to that unwritten rule are that the song is a cover of something so obscure that I’ve never heard the original – or that by covering a song, an artist has bought something new and unique to the table. In this cover of ‘First World Problems’, an unreleased track by Chance The Rapper, Elina Filice ticks both of those boxes.

Fans of Chancelor Johnathan Bennett have long yearned for him to officially release the track he performed live on a TV show. For some reason he never has. Elina has taken the song, rewritten the spoken word verses to make them much more personal to her and simply left the chorus in tact. It’s a complete renovation of an under the radar song. And it’s quite wonderful. 

The song is a critical reflection on the last few years,“, says Elina. “From leaving the comfort and structure of university to figuring out what to do with my life, the struggles of being an artist, searching for meaning, and trying to understand the world around me.

The artist from Canada enlists the help of Dublin-based singer/songwriter, Cat, to provide a haunting backing vocal. This is perhaps none too surprising given that Elina has previously spent much time in Dublin. “Yes I miss (pre-covid) Dublin terribly!“, she says in a short E-mail exchange. “It’s a great city with a vast music/arts scene, not to mention a cheap flight away from anywhere in Europe.

You can’t say fairer than that. Elina Filice, alone in the studio, following dreams and thinking critically about the world recognises it’s a tough and sometimes lonely road. I hazard a guess that regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will be keen to follow.