By Alexandra Holyk
Elise Mariah Armstrong-Peart is a third-year creative industries student currently on tour with hometown hero Daniel Caesar on his “Case Study 01: Tour” as a background vocalist. Known on Instagram as @elisemariah, Armstrong-Peart shares pictures and videos—including covers of songs and pictures with Caesar himself—documenting her journey as a musician.
The “Case Study 01: Tour” kicked off back in July, and Armstrong-Peart has since travelled beyond her hometown of Mississauga across North America, Europe and parts of Asia. Caesar performed two back-to-back shows at Budweiser Stage at the end of September. Armstrong-Peart said the tour will return to Canada for its final leg.
The album Case Study 01 follows Caesar’s 2017 breakout debut Freudian, and features artists like Pharell Williams and John Mayer. The Eyeopener caught up with Armstrong-Peart, who is currently on tour in Europe, to chat about her career, tour life and working with Daniel Caesar.
How did you land a gig on the Case Study 01: Tour?
I was literally just posting covers on Instagram, honestly, and they were in need of a fourth background singer in a short time period. They ended up contacting me, but at first it came across as so weird and suspicious because they weren’t giving me that much information. I initially said no because I had school and also a full-time job serving at a restaurant—I didn’t want to have those two things be impacted. My mom ended up seeing the email and she was like, “Elise, did you end up saying yes or did you ask for more information?” I told her no, I turned it down just because too many things were going to be impacted by it. She said, “Elise, you can’t think like that, because you never know what kind of opportunities are coming your way. Just find out more information.” Once I found out it was for Daniel, then I was like, “Okay, I’ll drop anything for that.”
What’s it like working with Daniel Caesar?
He’s so nice! It’s nice because we’re all on the same bus, so we honestly all hang out. It’s so weird even just meeting him at rehearsal, sitting and having coffee with him in the morning on the bus. That was something I had to get adjusted to, ‘cause he’s such a normal guy. He’s amazing. He’s such a talented guy too.
What does a typical day on tour look like?
Let’s say it’s a performance day. The way it starts is to wake up at your own time. I usually wake up around 10 a.m. and we have a day room, so I’ll usually get ready and shower before sound check. Then we do sound check from around 3:30 p.m. until latest 5 p.m. Then we go back to the hotel or we can stay at the venue and get ready and do our hair and makeup. Then 9 p.m. is when we do the show, and after the show we all just hang out backstage together.
What’s it like balancing tour, work and school?
Ryerson has been pretty good. I ended up having a giant heart-to-heart with my program’s guidance counsellor. I was like, “What should I do? Should I just do all my classes online? Is there anything I could do?” She ended up telling me that I should just take the semester off, because you never know when an opportunity like this will come again. Originally, singing and balancing work in school was pretty hard but I find that profs are really understanding with everything. If you need a bigger deadline they’re usually pretty chill with it and even when it comes to me taking a semester off—it doesn’t really impact me that much. I am missing a few courses that are only offered this semester so I won’t be able to graduate on time. Other than that, everything has been pretty chill.
Tell us about the challenges of being on tour.
One challenge is getting used to the jetlag and waking up in a different city every day. Especially in the states, because there are so many time zones. That was always a challenge. Also, living with people on a bus—especially strangers—at the beginning was sort of hard because you have to learn personalities and how to deal with certain people. You also have to learn how to change yourself just so you’re easy to live with too. But there’s actually not that many challenges…I love doing what I do so it’s great.
What do you do when you’re not touring?
When I had like 10 days off, I really just spent that time with my family. I love hanging out with my Nana, so I got to have that time with her. Also just catching up with my friends—I visited Ryerson one day and hung out with everyone. I ended up going into a lecture [for fun] and got yelled at by the prof because I wasn’t paying attention. It was my fault. But yeah, basically just catching up with friends and family before I went on the European leg of the tour.
Who inspired you to start singing?
Artists like Prince really inspired me because he was so talented at so many things, like instruments, singing, he also produced his own stuff. I was really inspired by Adele too, because I’m someone who loves to sing slower songs and seeing her make a substantial career singing ballads is really nice. Also, Michael Jackson.
Will you continue working as a backup vocalist in the future?
That’s a great thing and a bad thing about university, because in my program in particular, I’m learning about so many things I have interests in. I’m interested in television and in music. Ryerson made me realize that. Right now, I’m taking everything as it comes. I would love to continue doing background vocals and working with other artists, or even just continuing with Danny ‘cause I love the team so much. When I wanna settle down, we’ll see if I see myself still being a performer or if I see myself doing the more business side of television. I don’t know where I’ll be—I have so many interests. It’s hard to tell.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity purposes.