THE fantastic ELVIN has been telling me about...
the video for her track, Wonder, and what it was like filming it. I ask what we can expect from her upcoming E.P., The Garden, and what sort of themes inspired the songs – she reveals whether there is a standout track/personal favourite from the E.P.
I ask whether there will be tour dates coming and which rising artists we need to follow; what sort of music she loves and the albums that mean the most to her – she ends the interview by selecting a great track I have not heard.
Hi, ELVIN. How are you? How has your week been?
I am so great! Earlier this week, I was on Resonance FM with The Lallas and, last week, Hoxton Radio with Jodie Bryant. I am so encouraged by the fact I am suddenly getting so much support from independent radio.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a singer/songwriter-producer. I write and produce ornate, epic ‘popera,’ set in Electronic, Classical soundscapes.
Wonder is your new track. What is the inspiration behind it? What was it like filming the video?
Wonder is about the re-awakening and freeing of my child-like imagination. It marks the beginning of my creativity as an artist. This video is the second stage of the development of this idea as a special visual project. The characters in the video are all styled by me as toys from a toy-box - and it’s a live and acoustic version of the song.
Filming was quite the nightmare. I arrived on set to a gas leak and everyone standing outside. I had to stand on tables, flapping a dusty weird pollutant out of the room before I could even convince everyone it was safe to film. I had one shot at this - because equipment was provided for by Yamaha - so I had to demonstrate I was a worthwhile artist for them to support. Thank God we did the entire thing in one take and Raja Virdi, who has literally shot for Rihanna, London Grammar etc. etc. – and was a dream to work with.
Once we got filming it flowed like magic under his guardianship.
Your E.P., The Garden, is out soon. Can you reveal the sort of themes and songs that will appear?
The Garden is a magical world I’ve created to hold my stories and experiences. We travel via my ‘conscious stream’ by rowboat, which weaves in and out of the E.P. at different points. We start down The Garden Path at the beginning where I describe starting out on my musical journey and how that feels. We then end in a field of Lavender, where I lose my friend, Jessie.
Throughout, I use the garden as a metaphor. For example, Sweet Sensations is a blue/purple delphinium. So, in this song, I am describing the sensations I am being given in this time of my life as somebody giving me this flower and relating them in the context of a playground in the garden and riding my bicycle through the garden with this person.
Do you have a standout track from the set at all?
I am pretty excited about Valley of Roses. I love Latin and I am so thrilled to be getting away with dropping some Latin in the chorus. It’s my Valentine’s gift to all my fans as one rose is not enough! In this song, I get called back to love by a voice I can hear in the distance; the place I imagine to be a valley of roses where love exists in its purest form.
When did music come into your life? Did your parents play a big role?
Yes! My mum is a flautist and a composer too. She taught me a great deal of what I know. My entire family is musical and actually that is my sister playing the glock and singing in the video for Wonder. She had to step in at the last minute because my glock player was sick - that’s just what the best sisters do! I am so grateful to her.
Which artists were important to you growing up? Who do you rank as idols?
The Beatles, Queen; Bowie...these guys were pretty creatively free and completely themselves. In adulthood, it’s been Marina and the Diamonds, Florence and the Machine. I love Laurel Halo too. It’s hard to pick just one idol: they’ve all been important to me in different ways.
How important and influential is London as a base in terms of creativity?
It’s unbelievable how much where you live inspires and influences your music. My music has definitely changed since moving back to Shoreditch. I feel it’s is so much edgier and ahead of the curve because of the fact I live in the centre of the creative universe! I meet so many interesting people in London every single day. It’s not just the music they chose to share with me but their stories and keeping me knee deep in challenging, forward-thinking conversation.
I love it here, but it’s also important to travel too. I am missing New York at the moment. Last year, I was making music for a label in Berlin that was entirely Techno. I spent a lot of time in the incredible parks of Berlin and this, plus their Wanderlust exhibition at The National Gallery, hugely inspired The Garden.
Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?
I think this past year has been one of the most incredible of my musical life and it just keeps getting better. I broke into the opening of The Ned (a hotel in bank) and it basically kick-started everything because it was there I met the marketing director of Yamaha and he gave me so much support in the early stages. But, honestly, I could write a book of my insane experiences of the music industry.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Usher - 8701
This album is most-closely correlated to my teenage emotional experiences. It was the backdrop to my breakups and parties.
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Because their songs are so classic; they unite people with huge and profound statements in tandem with musical magic.
Disney Compilation Albums
Secretly, I love Disney. Please don’t tell anyone.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Haha. Ok. I would chose Nothing but Thieves. Besides loving their music, Dominic is a friend and he promised me he would teach me how to solve a Rubik Cube. I would ask for an infinite number of Rubik’s Cubes to be provided, because I am certain it would take that many!
Might we see you on tour in 2019?
Yes, please! Hopefully, if everything goes amazingly. If not, I will certainly do some special performances and I will make sure I let everyone on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter know and that they are invited.
How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?
It’s a shame I can’t perform more because all of this was born out of simply how much I love singing. It’s basically quite expensive for me to do so, because I don’t believe in my musicians not being paid and my sound is quite epic. I did a performance once where I needed so many performers on stage with me, the stage wasn’t big enough...so I had to put two trumpeters in the crowd, which ended up being amazing!
I’ve also had a full orchestra play my music (the London City Orchestra) which, again, was completely incredible. Because I have a big sound, it might be a while before enough people are streaming or buying my music that I can feed that back into playing for a live audience. I have so many artistic ideas I am yet to make a reality! But, I’ll need to generate some support to make this happen.
For starters, I want to bring The Garden to life! One way I could do so is with brand partnerships, so I am looking into this at the moment. Plus, I am starting to generate interest from publishers and labels now which may be able to help.
IN THIS PHOTO: Rhi
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I love the fresh, new Electronic happenings in Berlin and Britain: Rhi and Laurel Halo, incredible female producers who, of course, I naturally want to support the most. Then comes my friends Titas and the Fox, who make lo-fi Electronic-Jazz.
IN THIS PHOTO: Laurel Halo/PHOTO CREDIT: Sylvie Weber
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
No. I have very little downtime and that’s just the truth. If you want a career in music, you have to work exceptionally hard because it won’t financially sustain you, immediately (if ever). So, I work extremely hard. I make absolutely sure I make time for my friends, because nothing surpasses the importance of being a good friend. Other than this, sometimes, if I have time to unwind then you’ll find me in the steam room or on the tennis court!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I would love it if you played my friend’s music, Titas and the Fox. His E.P. is called Coffee and Eggs; he’s one of my best friends and I’m super-proud of him releasing his first pieces of music too!