The newcomer gets candid on her dreamy pop-infused single “Hoping”.
Full look PATOU
Full look PATOU
Making your debut as a new artist isn’t easy, especially during these difficult times. But making it look easy with her avant-garde debut single, is newcomer ELLE L with “Hoping”. Soaring over the angelic production, ELLE channels the likes of FKA Twigs and Kilo Kish on her debut track, weaving high octane vocals with subtle rolling drums. Accompanying the release with a breathtaking video shot in The Painted Hall at the Royal Naval College, the singer brings the romantic song to life with scenic cinematic visual and dramatic wardrobe.
Opening up on the video process, the singer said, “Creating the video was very much like bringing my imagination to life. I’d always hoped to create a sort of ‘other-world, something visually poetic, delicate and yet powerful – but of course, shooting in lockdown is always going to create artistic challenges. I describe the video as a “future renaissance”
Expanding her talents to video production and environmental causes, ELLE has been championing sustainability with her ongoing projects at the United Nations and vegan beverage brand The Naked Collective. Ready to spread her wings this summer with more music, we sat down with the newcomer getting candid on everything from musical inspirations and upcoming collaborations.
Check out the video and interview below…
Hey Elle! How has this past year been for you? What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself?
This past year has been the best and worst! I fell in love with my neighbour, released my debut single but I had pneumonia and was in hospital in December. It’s been a rollercoaster, but I feel like we are all coming out the other side now. Everyone has experienced lockdown through such different lenses, and we are living through such surreal times. I don’t think any of us could have expected to experience something so globally shocking; the shockwaves of the pandemic have been felt by every single human on the planet. I’ve learnt the importance of my health above all else and kindness. My Dad said recently, ‘kindness is the best therapy’ and I think it’s true. We’ve all been through so much but kindness to ourselves, each other and strangers is what gives me strength to persevere and be hopeful as we emerge out of lockdown.
You grew up in London, which is a melting pot of music and culture, do you think growing up here has inspired you or shaped your sound?
I grew up on the outskirts. My Mum, Val, is a piano tuner and I have vivid memories of accompanying her to Abbey Road and The Royal Albert Hall when she was tuning regularly for Steinway & Sons and couldn’t get a babysitter! That certainly impacted me as a kid. It was a magical experience to be behind the scenes of rehearsals at some of London’s most iconic music venues. More recently, since Uni, I’ve lived in Shoreditch and that impacts me differently because I think there is so much creativity in the East and so many little industry nights like ‘This is Wired!’ that see some of the greatest new talent and session musicians play underground. I really think having friends that curate and perform at those nights has played a part in my music journey. My confidence is ever-growing artistically through my experiences… By always being around and absorbing music, it becomes you. I find the city is inspiring for its effervescence and ever-changing energy, though I mostly say I’m inspired by nature; nature is all around us, in each of us and even in the city.
How did you first get into music? What kickstarted the career?
Music is rooted in my DNA; my family are very musical but I’m actually self-taught and only truly realised I wanted to be a music artist the more I’ve evolved into myself and chosen how I want to define who I am. I originally studied film and was producing content for CNN out of University. There’s a couple of defining moments that come to mind. Firstly, was where the head of post-production at CNN in London heard a few of my little instrumental jams I’d produced and set me up with a logic suite to create music for the shows… that was quite a dream job to be honest. Finding my voice and myself as an artist came a couple of years later when my Mum bought me a digital piano for my birthday out of the blue. I could not stop writing for days. I felt all of a sudden aligned for the first time and a sense of calm and commitment — ‘This is what makes you happy. This is what you’re supposed to do’. I’ve been writing and developing my sound ever since whilst supporting and working on environmental projects with NGOs and for the United Nations. Now is an exciting time because the music is fully formed and ready to spread its wings. My first single ‘Circles’ was the sound of a Lacoste commercial and my second single ‘Hoping’ is my official debut, which is out now on all major streaming platforms. I’m just getting starting and there’s so much more to come!
Full look PATOU
Full look PATOU
You dropped your debut single “Hoping” this year, what is it like dropping music during such a tumultuous time?
I’ve not known anything different but doing it for the first time in lockdown is something I imagine I’ll look back on as quite jaw-dropping. To think that I signed this track to Tileyard remotely via Zoom and even my manager and I started working together late last year, again remotely. I think humans are very adaptable though, so we have embraced it, learnt to enjoy it and made it work. There’s a sort of digital tenacity and revolution that’s taken place to allow us to stay connected and creative through intense periods of physical isolation.
Take us through your debut single, what was the inspiration?
I started writing this track a couple of years ago, late night at my parents’ place in Leigh-on-Sea. I write from my subconscious, so it’s a very organic process as opposed to having a concept in mind to begin with. To write by ad-libbing in the first instance gives me a very natural high and a deeper sense of connection to the music. The chorus came to me and I then got into the studio with Dan Vinci and played it to him. The rest of the track followed from there. We play with a lot of harmonies in the track, which I think gives an ethereal nature to expressing the narrative and then allows for a sense of freedom to take flight in the chorus. We finished the song during lockdown and it strangely felt like it grew in significance. ‘Hoping’ is definitely a track for ‘now’ – a time where we all need hope as we emerge from lockdown and take the leap of faith to re-create our future. It’s about daring to love fearlessly and how our vulnerability can be so brave.
And you just dropped the stunning accompanying visuals, what was the production like for the video?
Again, this was created on the edge of lockdown, but it was a pleasure to work with such a talented team to bring the visuals to life. I’d always envisioned shooting at The Old Royal Naval College. I fell in love with The Painted Hall. It’s quite literally like The Sistine Chapel of London. I was so happy that we could lay our scene for ‘Hoping’ there. My original idea for the music video shaped from working with a company of dancers to express the idea of Hope through movement… we stripped things back and created a more intimate portrayal of the cinematic vision that had been playing in my head due to the restrictions, but I wouldn’t say it limited us. We wanted to get as close as possible to the original idea. I worked with Joseph Adesunloye, an incredible director and the gentlest soul, Mica Bradbury and Leo Dixon – First Artists of The Royal Ballet and Megan Stewart led on production for me. They, alongside our DoP Tom Turley were the key team behind creating the music video, which we described on account of the dreamy venue, as a ‘future-renaissance of the imagination’. A very understated title! We all had to have Covid tests before filming, which was a production in itself. It was the first time we had been around a lot of people, so for me, it was literally like coming out of the Cocoon, straight into the spotlight. I’ve always been one to jump into the deep end and this was definitely just that. We also included some beautiful amazonian panoramas filmed by Clayton Folden in the edit, from a trip I took to Peruvian non-profit organisation, Hoja Nueva. This was to remind us of the ‘Hope’ found in the natural world, how we are always connected to Earth and the ‘bigger picture’. I’m inspired by nature and movement so this was fundamental to expressing the narrative. The Amazonian footage also tied to a campaign that the track has been associated with, ‘Hope for Earth Day’ with Mude Drinks. We utilised the song and the Amazon footage to fundraise for Hoja Nueva and supported raising $15 000.00 to the re-wilding of endangered species in the Peruvian Amazon.
What made you want to go with this theme?
Hope allows us to believe anything is possible, so I wanted to use the expression of the Sir Christopher Wren masterpiece at the Old Royal Naval College and the incredible dancers to illustrate the imagination of Hope. I feel the venue and the movement really brought the vision to life. It became like moving poetry. It was very instinctive to go with this theme. Even meeting the director Joseph was an act of serendipity as he was literally walking by my apartment as Dan and I were finishing this track. Dan called Joseph up to take a listen and that’s how we first met. It all came together so naturally and fell into alignment.
Another one of your passions is sustainable fashion, how did you get involved with promoting this and what does it mean to you?
A lot of music artists get asked to represent brands and that’s an amazing opportunity that comes with the job. For me, that gift comes with a responsibility to advocate for great people and brands that are doing something beyond the brand for the planet. Fast fashion is a very dominant space, so early on I got quite a few approaches on this front, but I soon realised that I was uncomfortable with how these brands create. I could tell the clothes weren’t made well, they didn’t last, and I found out they often don’t respect the textile supply chain and over-produce in a way that has a harmful impact on the planet. I want to champion brands and people more conscious than that. Around the same time, I was on the front row at Fashion Week and got to know Fashion For Conservation (FFC) lead designer Rene Garza as we were sat next to each other at his show. I loved the artistry, the message and that there was a drive to conservation. I soon found myself as an ambassador for FFC and in the Peruvian Amazon on a press trip experiencing Mother Nature in her truest form, first-hand. I’ve never looked back. The more I learn about sustainability, the more I choose to advocate for regenerative practices through my brand alignments. I’m now lucky that I’ve educated myself enough on the topic to work with some incredible organisations on projects alongside my music, from EcoAge to The United Nations. I also work with sustainable brands beyond fashion like Mude Drinks and Cohorted. I think it’s important to stand for something and I believe we should create and consume in a way that leaves a legacy and protects future generations. That process of creating should always be fun, so I don’t think we should think of being sustainable as hard work; our good habits should feel good.
Who would you cite as your musical inspirations?
I have quite an eclectic musical taste. Right now, I’m listening to everything from David Bowie – Lazarus to Kid Cudi, MGMT – The Pursuit of Happiness. I find inspiration in everything. I get a lot of parallels vocally to FKA Twigs or Kate Bush, both of whom are great at what they do, but I find the most inspiration in the world around me and musically in timeless tracks from the 90s – great songwriters like Elton John. I love that purer type of artistry and use that as an inspirational foundation then add my own dreamy future-style of pop when making my music.
What’s next for you? What are you most excited for?
I’m honestly so excited to create and share more songs with everyone. I’m releasing more music from this summer and there are many more tracks waiting in the wings. I love the studio and performing live is going to be a whole new world for me. I’m just so excited to work more, collaborate more and to let the new tracks fly!