El Ten Eleven Turns Anxiety into Something Beautiful with “You Are Enough” (KEXP Premiere)

KEXP Premiere
Dusty Henry
photo by Mark Owens

Hop onto any streaming platform and start searching for “anxiety” themed playlists – playlists meant for coping, not inducing, anxiety. Oftentimes you’re likely to find sprawling collections of music that includes quiet, planitive folk music along with copious amount of instrumental ambient and post rock. There’s something about the sounds of the latter that slips on like a weighted blanket, allowing you to be immersed in comforting tones and pushing panicked thoughts out of your head. But what happens when “soothing instrumental music” tries to tackle these emotions head on? That’s what San Diego post rock duo El Ten Eleven seek out to do with their upcoming album Banker’s Hill, out August 10 via Topshelf Records.

The serene nature of El Ten Eleven’s music can seem opposing to anxiety on its face, yet the band has challenged themselves to find something else within the dreadful emotion – using just a drum kit and a double-necked guitar/bass. With their latest single, “You Are Enough,” the band’s thesis carries weight. Over the course of seven minutes, the band starts at a low, gurgling bass rumble and slowly emerges with flashes of bright, bending notes. Eventually the drums fully kick in and start to really ascend and push against the invisible weight holding them down. “You Are Enough” is a constant back and forth. The mood changes from minute-to-minute. Uplifting moments come crashing down and then back up again. It’s that struggle against itself the song’s most transcendent moments are birthed from.

“There is a strange beauty in anxiety if one can observe it and not be enslaved by it (not easy!) via mindfulness,” El Ten Eleven tells KEXP about the track. “Darkness creeping into one’s life, which is represented by that long breakdown in the song, can actually increase gratefulness and end up being a net positive.”

Though there are no lyrics to hold onto within the track, the title “You Are Enough” serves as an unspoken mantra. When the moments feel bleakest in the song, it’s as if that phrase is pushing back and saying “I am enough, let me get through.” Anxiety is battle, but somehow El Ten Eleven are able to twist it into something lovelier than what it looks like on the surface.

Stream “You Are Enough” and watch a video of the band performing the track live below.

El Ten Eleven will hit the road this September, including a series of Northwest shows. Catch them Sept. 13 at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, Sept. 14 at The Crocodile in Seattle, and Sept. 15 at The Bartlett in Spokane, Wash. Pre-order Banker's Hill now.

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