Elan Bia talks brand creation, work ethic, upbringing, and creative influences
“It's somewhere between MTV and the early days of Vice. I'm trying to make a perpetuator of culture; I want to make cool stuff that stands the test of time."
Elan Bia founded NoSoap in his earliest days at college and never looked back. What originally started as a place to share media and art with larger audiences has moved from submission Saturdays and playlists to music videos. Masterminded by Elan, brother of the ever-so-connected and respected Zack, he’s been able to redefine the word creativity. As a consumer of media—more specifically a connoisseur of movies—Elan has started to gain traction for NoSoap, directing music videos for artists like ssgkobe, wolfacejoeyy, 300Clay, Kadeo, Autumn!, and Sony Dinero.
NoSoap has taken on different sorts of projects over time, such as documentaries, interview shows, and more—solidifying them as a full-blown production company. In our conversation, it was apparent that while on his relentless grind, he values two things above all: keeping your eyes and ears open and maintaining genuine relationships. Elan has been able to accomplish all of this while attending University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. A multi-talented visionary with time on his side is how I would describe Elan Bia.
We got together via Zoom to discuss his most utilized film inspirations, bucket list work projects, the future of NoSoap, and of course, Baby Keem. Check out the full interview video or read some of the most pressing questions transcribed below.
Howie: What was your childhood like in terms of how it relates to where you're at now with your career?
Elan: I have a single mother that raised both me and my brother. And so because of that, when other kids were outside playing and everything, I was always inside watching movies. That's literally all I did; I've seen everything. And so basically, just as I was growing up, my mom always allowed a space for me to be creative; she never pushed me to do anything super academically... She was just always very open to me expressing myself artistically. I really feel like the biggest influence on my work was my mom just being so open to that.
Howie: We both share a similar adoration for the phrase "demon time." When's the last time you remember being on demon time?
Elan: When I write a script, I can't write during the day; I need to write between like 1:00 to 5:00 A.M, which kind of fucks my sleep schedule sometimes, but it's like that. I have to be in a place where I'm sort of starting to go crazy a little bit.
Some "demon time" shit was the day we shot the Sony video; it was the same day we shot the "Lose It" video. We literally were in New York for five days, we shot four videos, and we probably slept a collective eight hours. A lot of the time that we're doing shit is really like "demon time."
Howie: What's it like having a fan page? I assume you're aware.
Elan: Yeah, I wouldn't even say that. Their fan pages because it was from was when I was 17 and my brother was dating Madison, and all of Madison's fans were starting to, like, trickle down to me at the time. And I was a little kid and I had no idea what the fuck was going on. I was like, "Wow, this social media shit's crazy." It was a real journey mentally, I'd say... Because as I got into college and everything, I was like, "These are people that spend time out of their life to be a fan of someone who hasn't even done anything yet." That's when I really started to kick it into gear. I was like, "I really want to do something with my life; I don't want to be known as like a little brother." Yeah... it was weird when it first started. The kids at my school were joking around, showing me the pages, and I was like, "I don't even know what you guys want me to say."
Howie: What the hell is Local Milfs Wanted?
Elan: Local Milfs Wanted was an idea I had one day. I was just sitting on the ground in my apartment, and I was like, "I want to do some clothing stuff." I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to do it with NoSoap, because I didn't want people to get confused. And, that phrase just came to mind. I was like, "Why has no one done this yet? These words in this order is literally ridiculous."
I had this kid that had this really cool way of drawing letters, and I was like, "You should really make this font." Then he made it a font, and I was like, "Let's make that the Local Milfs Wanted font." So we did, and then we did one drop. I had no idea what the fuck I was doing, but we sold like 50 shirts. And I was like, "This is crazy." Like, I didn't even realize that it was a means to make money by selling clothes. So we did that drop, but then I was like, "You know what? I really want to flesh this out a lot more before I come back to it." Now it's kind of like an "If you know, you know," but I'm gonna start to roll it out again. The only thing is the kid that then made the font... he and I didn't agree morally on some stuff. And I was like, "I'd prefer not to continue working." So now, I'm currently working with this kid that's going to help me create a whole new font for it, and that's why it's kind of slowed down. I'm really making sure that the branding and everything are very correct and all there before rolling it out again.
Howie: What's one trait of an artist that makes working with them so easy or fun?
Elan: Not taking yourself too seriously. That is one of the biggest things, because there are so many artists that I've interacted with that it's like, "You're just kind of a dickhead who thinks that you're the shit." Not to be a dick myself, but it's easy to be nice to people. NoSoap is like entirely around my friends from high school and friends from USC and people that I've brought on, and it's a very familiar sort of community. So, when we're doing videos, we become boys with these people after; like, SSG (Kobe) has been added to our basketball group chat. So, if someone is open and they don't take themselves too seriously, it allows for fun. That sort of really comes through the camera and gives an authentic performance that makes the people a lot more personable. Because you can see if someone isn't having fun on set; you'll see it in the video. So as long as you're not too hard-headed and you're just allowing yourself to enjoy and be creative and have fun, it's gonna come through and you'll have an amazing final product.