Ellery Cohen may wear many hats in two differing industries but his driving goal remains the same: “to bring hope and support people.”

The Melbourne synth-pop singer-songwriter and disability support person uses music in everything he does. In fact, his work with Interchange Outer East, the non-profit disability service provider across Melbourne’s outer eastern and surrounding regions, is having palpable success rates with participants in his music programme.

Check out Ellery Cohen’s track ‘Over You’:

Between his own music commitments like releasing his highly emotive single ‘Change Like That’, Ellery Cohen’s music program at Interchange involves him leading the band Mixed Emotions, made up of music-loving adults who perform regularly at events hosted by Interchange Outer East.

mixed emotions
Poster for a performance by Mixed Emotions in 2019

To find out more about how Ellery Cohen and his work with Interchange Outer East, we asked him to take us through the music program he runs, his key takeaways from his work, his music plans, and more.

You’re a musician, but you also use your talents to provide disability support for adults and kids with physical and Intellectual disabilities. How do you explain your job to someone outside of both industries?

Growing up with a sister with down syndrome and on the autism spectrum alway meant that I had a very soft spot for those who may need extra support in life. My job as a musician and as a disability support worker are pretty similar, I seek to bring hope and support people.

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The beautiful thing about music is that it is inclusive and EVERYONE has their own style and their own space in creating or listening no matter their ability. 

participants at interchange
Ellery Cohen with participants at Interchange Outer East

 

What would you list as your career highlights so far?

My most exciting achievement as a musician was the first time I heard my record play on KIIS Fm nationally. Also the time I went into Kmart and my song was playing.

Check out Ellery Cohen’s track ‘change like that’:

Your work through Interchange Outer East is really impressive. How do you define that success?

I’m so blessed by the opportunities I have had, and being able to share and experience with people who often feel so “different” to others is something I take great joy in.

I honestly believe music has a power to heal and this isn’t restricted by those to have a disability.

 

Which aspects of your Music Program that you run do your attendees love most? 

Well they love lunch (who doesn’t?) but I think this is the community aspect of working with their friends and being around like-minded people. Those who are disabled are like anyone – they enjoy people who are on the same wavelength as them and I think being in an environment where they can enjoy themselves with similar people is something so special.

participants at interchange
Ellery Cohen with a participant at Interchange Outer East

Tell us about the band you’ve put together through the Program, Mixed Emotions.

Every Friday I help run a program called Mixed Emotions. It’s a band program that helps a group of young adults who learn songs, book gigs and write their own music.

It’s so beautiful to see the group achieve their goals and grow into amazing musicians.

What would you say your main learnings from your work at Interchange Outer East are?

I honestly believe anyone is able to achieve anything they set their mind to. And often the only thing that is stopping us is our own belief.

  

Your own music is very emotive. Have your experiences at work ever popped up in your music?

I love to write super honest music that deals with everyday life and that relates to everyone with every ability.

We are all humans and all experience the same things of love and pain and hurt and i think it’s so important to be honest and open about things and i’m very blessed i have the opportunity to share on the platform that i do.

Check out Ellery Cohen’s ‘Read Your Mind’:

 

How can people needing support get involved? What’s the process?

The NDIS gives the 100,000 people in Australia who have a disability access to support services. The best way to access help if it’s needed is to contact your closest NDIS registered support service.

 

What are you working on now that has you excited?

I’m so excited to release my next record. Hopefully after Covid-19 has slowed down I’ll be releasing it. I’m super excited to hear people’s response to it.

Finally, what album or artist do you have on repeat at the moment?

I’m loving One Republic at the moment or old school Beatles.

Watch Ellery Cohen’s clip for ‘Change Like That’:

YouTube VideoPlay