Elskavon Live Set - Honey Mpls - Nov. 8

I’m playing a live Elskavon set this coming Thursday, November 8 at Honey in Minneapolis. I’ll be opening for my friends The Prams. Last show (of any project) for a little while… having a baby at the end of the month.

Doors are at 7 - I’m on right at 7:30.

Come hang out?


Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 3.13.59 PM.png

My latest Elskavon release:



Blurstem, my new piano-based project

I've been releasing ambient albums under the name Elskavon for years now, and at least a song or two on each album has been piano-based. I even have a 4-song piano EP coming out this week. However, I've been writing a lot on piano, and felt the need to branch off and create a new moniker that can focus as my official "piano project." I just love the modern classical world, and this will be my avenue for releasing piano songs whenever I feel like it. I'm placing no pressure on myself regarding releases or shows or anything like that - I'm just writing when I want, and releasing when I want. I hope you enjoy.

Here's my first official release - a 2-song single titled Drown In You.

Blurstem_DrownInYou 700.jpg



Love for Glowing, the new Bora York single

Our first Bora York single in 3 years is available everywhere.

Below is a sampling of what the blogosphere has been saying about it:


"Though the couple have been recharging creative batteries for the past three years, no time has been wasted as the perfection of their style can’t be any more obvious."


"Clever production allows for the inclusion of many layers, especially vocal harmonies, without ever sounding too busy.  There is such pleasure to be had in a song that rewards the repeat listener with little surprises each time."


"Glowing is the kind of joyful sounding sunbeam of a record I just can’t really resist. Full of tight layered percussion and jubilant melodies, this is the sound of bouncing down the street with your head full of someone who warms your heart up and makes you smile involuntarily."


"Their harmonies are perfect here and the song is a summery, joyful piece of pop music."


"With uplifting choruses and soft, exquisite croons that soar over a gorgeous production, Glowing is the alarm track for your serotonins"


"Glowing is a glorious track that’s simply built for those lazy summer evenings spent with the nearest and dearest."


"The track stitches together summery tones and smooth vocals to make for a colourful and warm summer anthem."


"A perfect track to get into your daily psyche, and into your summer playlist."


"Despite the pop veneer, "Glowing" incorporates the group's more experimental tendencies. Blissed-out and glitchy vocals meld with chair squeaks and thumping drums.



A glimpse into the whirlwind mind of an independent musician - Elskavon - Spring (Piano Day 2018)

Can I give you a quick glimpse into the whirlwind mind of an independent musician?

It’s all about seasons. Last summer and into the fall, I was furiously writing a new Elskavon album, not to mention new Bora York songs with my wife, and Hi-Fi Cali collaborations and singles… For every album I release, which is typically around 9-10 songs, I end up with sometimes more than 50 demos and half-written songs. So there was a lot of writing happening. The ideas kept coming and the inspiration was heavy.

In September, I decided to set a release date for the new album, Skylight - this gives myself a deadline to actually call things done, and to get prepped for a release. From late fall on, leading up to that date (January 26), I was finishing songs, mixing and mastering the audio, working on artwork, studio and promo videos, show prep, social media content, reaching out for press and playlist possibilities, and more. There’s a lot of things on the independent release checklist.

In the midst of all this, I was about to step into a part-time freelance role, something my wife and I had been preparing for about a year. We’re very hopeful and excited about this season of our journey, which just started a few weeks ago.

There has been a lot of things happening, and I’m grateful every step of the way. But I’m human and I get burnt out, as well. Last week it was tough to find any sort of inspiration whatsoever. And there was a definite setback regarding the new album - something I had been getting used to slipped away. It’s part of the process, and something I was fully aware could be a possibility. But it was still a bit of a punch in the gut.

I do my best to not let my emotions control me when it comes to career pursuits - I grit my teeth and I keep moving forward, but still, last week was tough.

Here’s where this new single comes in. I made a decision, opposite from what I felt emotionally, to write, record, and release a new song in a matter of days. Piano Day is a new worldwide celebration of the piano, and I wasn’t initially planning on participating. But this felt like an opportunity to get up, and move forward.

I couldn’t think of a more appropriate title, either.


Not only is spring almost here season-wise, but I was reminded of a few other uses of the word spring when I looked it up:

  • To move or jump suddenly or rapidly forward

  • Originate or arise from

  • A resilient device

Amazing. Even though I didn’t feel like it, I’m making the choice to move forward, and to write, which is, I believe, one of my purposes in life. Who knows, maybe this choice will help me to jump suddenly or move rapidly forward to a new, beautiful season in my creativity.  Even though I didn’t feel like it, I’m making the choice to write something new, something fresh - to originate, to arise from. And even though I don’t feel like it, I’m choosing to be resilient.

That’s where Spring comes from.

And no matter what you do, or feel, or create, and no matter what kind of season you’re in - whether you’re flourishing or hurting - I hope you choose to keep moving forward. I hope you choose to be resilient.

I hope you choose spring.



What people are saying about Skylight...

I released my 4th Elskavon album, Skylight, on January 26th. It was a joy to create and it's even greater joy to hear others impacted by it. I'm so grateful for anyone who's taken the time to listen. Thought I'd put together a little compilation of selected press and playlists:


"Skylight by Elskavon is a true work of art in the medium of sound, and Bartels’ patience and loving labor have paid off more so than he may realize. We can only hope that the next installment in Elskavon’s discography will be equally grandiose, but until then, it will be more than enough to relish every minute of Skylight as we wait."

Read the full review


"...we're baring witness to something profoundly personal, something richer than gloss and polish."

Read the full interview


"Throughout the album Bartels uses different styles of music to keep the listener entertained. Is it Ambient? Electronica? Drone? Post Rock? Modern Classical? Experimental? Well, the answer is yes and no. The tracks can contain all or just some of these genres which allows the music to not be pigeonholed and rewards deeper repeated listening."

Read the full review


"When Chris Bartels chose the name for his Elskavon project he formed a neologism from a pair of Icelandic words – elska meaning “love” and von meaning “hope”). It was not only a message he would weave into his compositions, but a nod in the direction of Sigur Ros, one of his key influences when he started to write ambient music."

Read the full feature


"That mix of practicality and musical creativity lends the record an honest, personal feeling. There is a moment at the end of a lovely piano solo on “Offers of Peace,” where Bartels’ piano bench squeaks as he shifts his weight. It reminds us that we haven’t just heard a beautiful composition, we’ve heard the recording of a richly nuanced performance and all the ambient sound that comes with it."

Read the full review


"If you want to penetrate acoustically in other dimensions, put the new Elskavon album to your heart."

Read the full review





"Over time though, these visual repositories for the small milestones that shape the course of our lives take on a much greater significance, sometimes ending up as the only memory aid we have left to remember them. Listening to Skylight is tantamount to flicking through such a photo album."

Read the full review



Skylight Handmade CD Package

Handmade deluxe CD packages of my new Elskavon album Skylight are available now! In addition to immediate digital download, each package includes a couple poem selections (written by me), and is made from burlap, paper, twine, and topped by a small bronze Minnesota charms. My wife and I assembled these at our house. This is a very short run - we made a total of 50. 



Elskavon | Skylight | New Album

My fourth Elskavon album, Skylight, is out today.

Every single song is inspired by a memorable moment in my life - some huge moments, like the birth of my child; some smaller, like the tranquility of exploring the woods with my best friend years ago. 

I really believe memorable moments that we relive over and again are so incredibly valuable, and reminders to not miss the potential in the making now - these are gifts we can never fully get back, so really living these moments is important. 

I embraced imperfections and made a point to step outside my comfort zone in the studio with this album. From hearing the wood floor creak in piano recordings while my family walked around upstairs, sampling in washing machines sounds via iPad, sending synths and vocals out to guitar pedals, recording unplugged electric pianos, or using my body as drum triggers, each song was created in a unique way. 

This is Skylight. Thank you for listening.



"If you want to penetrate acoustically in other dimensions, put the new Elskavon album to your heart."  - Tidal Stream

"Something profoundly personal, something richer than gloss and polish. However it never feels like we’re imposing – the feeling is more of being welcomed, invited to stay longer, allowed and encouraged to look closer." Fine Pop & The Piano



Piano. Ambience. Coffee. Toys.

Piano. Ambient samples. Coffee. Toys. Here's a glimpse into my life. Improvising with the Ableton Push, Alesis SamplePad Pro, and piano.  The drum samples halfway through are from Gotye's Wurlitzer Sideman tube drum machine, found in this video, via J.Views' Album DNA Project.

Speaking of J.Views, Bora York is opening for them November 9 at Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. We're honored and cannot wait!

Be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel. More of these on the way.



Introducing Syna

Syna is a 2-song single I just released, the first new Elskavon release in 3 years.

It's the first taste of a 4th full-length album. This one goes a bit deeper. Each song is inspired by a particular memorable moment or era in my life. Some are small, like one cool summer night riding bikes home with my best friend and fireworks going off in the distance. Some are big, like the birth of my children.

I really believe memorable moments that we relive over and again are so incredibly valuable, and reminders to not miss the potential in the making now - these are gifts we can never fully get back, so really living these moments is important.



Myths and Mold EP and City Pages Feature

My latest release is a 5-song solo EP titled Myths and Mold.  I hope you enjoy the short journey.  I'm proud of where it landed.  Thank you so much for the support.

I had the pleasure with chatting with Erica Rivera for a City Pages feature as well:

Though this is only his second solo album (his debut, Morning’s Gold, dropped in 2011), Bartels is no newbie to the Minneapolis music scene. He’s the man behind indie-pop band Bora York (with his wife Rebekah) as well as the electronica project Hi-Fi Cali. A prolific producer, he also runs Anthem Falls Music, a hybrid record label and production house.
And that’s just what he does in his spare time. By day, Bartels writes music for commercials; by night, he’s a family man. Like many creative people, he struggles to find a balance between his responsibilities and what nourishes him artistically.

Read the rest here.




Interview with Vents Magazine

1. How would you classify your music?

I have a handful of different projects where I’m always trying various styles, from ambient to synthpop, but I think I definitely borrow moods and types of sounds from one project to the next, whether consciously or subconsciously.

If picking genres, you’d probably describe the Myths and Mold EP as an alternative-indie-folk sort of sound.  For me personally, there are certainly elements of experimentation with the songwriting and production.

2. Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

Influences are constantly changing for me.  Anytime I’m listening to music now, I hear and think about not only the feel and emotion of the song, but I think about the songwriting itself, and definitely the production of it as well.  It’s a blessing and a curse I’d say, as sometimes it’s hard to just simply enjoy the music for what it is, and not think about how it’s influencing my creative thoughts.

As far as specific artists, J. Views’ latest album 401 Days and his album DNA project has been ruining me (in a good way).  Tame Impala, Sigur Ros, and Toro y Moi are all big influences. Justin Vernon and what he does with Volcano Choir and Bon Iver was definitely an influence for this EP.

3. What do you want fans to take from your music?

I think the highest compliment for me with this EP would be for listeners to take it as an experience, or a journey.  I enjoy discovering artists through singles, but the full album (or EP) is still my favorite art form.  Songs can still be great by themselves, but to me, there’s nothing like the overall picture and journey of an album.  I hope Myths and Mold comes across as just that – a cohesive story, and not just 5 separate songs packaged together.

read the rest of the interview...



SHOW: Myths And Mold Release Show 4/28 at Turf Club

Myths And Mold is my first solo release in 6 years and it's a 5-song "escape," as I like to say. An escape from synths (for the most part...) and going for high polish production.  And an escape from traditional song form.  This was experimenting with lots of room recordings and layers and layers of drums, vocals, and guitars.

See you on the 28th!




Drop Flip: Seasons

Drop Flip: Seasons is a fun iOS game that was recently featured on Apple App Store's best new games!  I had the privilege of composing an original track for it, as well as customizing my song 'Penali' for it, and doing the sound design.

Download Now



Introducing Myths and Mold

Myths and Mold is a solo album, my first in 5 years, that was born out of writing and recording songs and sounds that were a relief from the high polish production sound of Bora York and Elskavon.  While the sounds are more organic and the recordings more live, I still experimented with lots of layers and gave my friend Taylor Lewin the keys and let him run with the mixes.  He also co-wrote the last song "Counting Hands."

We're proud of this project and can't wait to get it out there.  Here's the first single, "Missoula"