Marketing and music; a UI senior makes strides in Iowa City’s local music scene

UI Senior Elly Hofmaier dabbles between music genres to find her best form of communication.


Elena Alvarez/The Daily Iowan

Elly Hofmaier plays her guitar at The Mill-Iowa City on Wednesday, February 27, 2019.

Madison Lotenschtein, Arts Reporter

Elly Hofmaier learned guitar not just for fun but to make her performances on stage easier. Before her encounter with the six-string instrument, the singer/songwriter played only piano, but pianos — in-tune pianos — are a rarity to find at a local gig.

In more recent times, the University of Iowa senior has created a band called Elly H, which she sometimes refers to as Elly H and the Sexy Boys, because the rest of the musicians are male. The group met at SCOPE, where Hofmaier works as the general manager. 

“We’re mostly an indie-rock band,” she said. “I want to transition into psychedelic rock, like contemporary psych rock, but I don’t know how to play it.”

The songwriter describes her solos as indie-rock mixed with country western.

Related: 5 bands of students face off in a musical battle

“I don’t even really listen to country,” Hofmaier said. “But the music is so literal, you can understand what they’re saying without having to look into some hidden meaning.” 

She crosses genres by singing for the Johnson County Landmark jazz band, which she describes as the top audition band for the UI. Much of Hofmaier’s inspiration drives through the force of strong female vocalists, including Ella Fitzgerald, a world-renown jazz singer.

Between her own music and the soul/jazz genre, Hofmaier marks one primary difference between the styles of music.

“Jazz requires you to be more technical,” she said. “Especially when I’m improvising, I have to work harder in jazz than I do with my own music.”

I just have an affinity for performing and communicating through music. . .I love the community that music gives everyone, especially local music. The talent in Iowa City is nuts.

— Elly Hofmaier

She did not begin her education at UI; instead, she ventured to Nashville to pursue the music business. Before she transferred to the UI, she had heard of SCOPE, a student organization that brings talent to UI campus.

“I was emailing SCOPE before I started classes here,” she said.

Hofmaier helped with the process of booking the artist Lizzo for the UI Homecoming Week this past semester. Even though the artist changed her major to marketing analytics, music, and the culture surrounding it, plays an important role in her life.

“I just have an affinity for performing and communicating through music,” she said. “I love the community that music gives everyone, especially local music. The talent in Iowa City is nuts.”

As a senior, her time at Iowa is nearing an end. While she hopes to obtain a marketing position in Chicago, the soon-to-be graduate foresees herself taking the path to music business once again.