On the Rise: Elle L
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  • Post published:14/11/2021
  • Post last modified:14/11/2021

Mixing her love for the environment and passion for music, Elle L is on a mission to bring about change with a little kindness.

Elle L’s CV makes for an impressive read. Off the back of a self-released EP she became a global ambassador for Fashion for Conservation, curated a runway show at the Natural History Museum, and has just been appointed a Kindness Champion for the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development. Releasing just her second single today, the suitably uplifting “Higher”, it’s all been something of an incredible few years.

Born and raised in Essex, but now based in East London, Elle’s mother was the first female piano tuner for Steinway & Sons, while her father was a jazz pianist. It meant the instrument was a constant in her life. At one point her family owned seven pianos. “My mom would take them in like stray dogs, it was quite hilarious,” she laughs. “I was always around music, probably even in the womb. I got used to the sound of a piano being tuned.”

Keen to find something to represent her own identity, Elle enrolled in a film course at university, followed by an internship at the news channel CNN. But it wasn’t long before she was roped back into music, creating some original compositions for one of their shows. Her unrelenting passion was reignited, then bolstered by a serendipitous present. “My mum, out of the blue, gifted me a digital piano for my birthday about four years ago and I just couldn’t leave it alone,” she smiles. “It was like a best friend, like a long lost lover.”

Elle began writing her own music, working with different producers and songwriters, and in 2017 uploaded an EP to Soundcloud. Despite having no label or management at the time, she still managed to generate some press and radio attention, eventually catching the ears of Lacoste who used one of her tracks in a campaign. “Circles” is a dramatic, slick and sultry hit of piano-driven balladry that propelled Elle’s career forwards. But the exposure generated by the song’s use had a surprising impact on her. “Even through that sort of small amount of profile, your DMs start to get flooded on Instagram with fast fashion endorsements,” she says. “I quickly realised these clothes aren’t made well or responsibly.”

Shocked by the prevalence of fast fashion and the impact it has on the environment, and buoyed by her new-found platform, Elle decided to dedicate her energy and voice to supporting only sustainable, forward-thinking groups and designers. “I curated the Fashion for Conservation show at the Natural History Museum with Mother Of Pearl and Deborah Milner,” she explains. “Deborah Milner was formerly head of couture for Alexandra McQueen, and she’s been doing Ecoture since it began, really. Fashion is a big polluter, way more than even aviation and travel, so it’s actually where you make the most difference. As an artist, you have a bit of a platform to be able to choose differently and choose designers to work with that are like-minded.”

Alongside her activism and ambassadorship, including a journey to the depths of the Peruvian Amazon, Elle still managed to find time to create. In April of this year she released her debut single proper. An intimate and emotive rush of tender vocals and dynamic production, “Hoping” showcases Elle’s ability to captivate through delicate narrative.

Released as Covid restrictions were beginning to lift, Elle used the lockdown to her advantage, working with two dancers from the Royal Ballet to create a stunning and moving visual accompaniment to the track, filmed in the beautiful Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. “They were super kind and I don’t think there’s any way that if they were in normal flow that they would have accommodated it,” she laughs. “However, I think they love music and I think a lot of great venues, people, places, love supporting fresh talent as much as established talent, because I think we all need to be circular in that respect. Everyone starts somewhere and I think it’s through giving people opportunities that you do allow people to shine.”

She wrote the track with Brixton-based producer Dan Vinci, with whom she maintains an ongoing and creatively rewarding relationship. “We have quite a few tracks that we’ve written together,” she says. “I would describe us as two lost children from Neverland. We have a very special dynamic creatively that’s very inner child. So we write really well together. It’s very colourful.”

Elle has been told that her style of writing is unique for a singer of her nature. She writes on the fly, generating lyrics on the spot. “When I’m in the mic space, and there’s music around me, just words come and I just love that. I find it a really natural way to tap into my subconscious that I think’s way more intelligent than my conscious self,” she laughs. “I have this feeling that I get when I make music, and it actually makes me emotional to talk about it, because it’s such a natural high. It’s just like a really open feeling, that’s the only way I can describe it. I guess it’s almost like when you’re in a meditation or a new yoga session and you get that kind of euphoric feeling.”

Her new single “Higher” digs deeper into that feeling of joy, as hook-fuelled melodies power under Elle’s transcendent vocal, building from the roots of her timeless keys into an explosion of kaleidoscope production and promise. The track feels so bright, it’s jarring to hear it was written at the start of this year, during the darkest days of the pandemic. “I like to be controversial with myself. When going through difficulties, let’s write my happiest songs. I’m sure when the world’s a happy place I’ll start writing some really sad music,” she laughs.

For Elle, the release comes at the perfect time, tying in with her ambassadorial work as we approach World Kindness Day on November 13th. “We’ve been collecting over one million stories of kindness this year as part of that campaign. I think with my music at the moment, hopefully being quite uplifting, I decided that rather than bare my soul, what about putting out some uplifting energy? I think that fits really nicely with this whole kindness global message.”

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