Ahead of her stunning new release, Face It, featuring some emotional and soulful R&B beats; we caught up with the North London native – singer and songwriter, J Elle. Her first release of 2020, and the follow on from her latest project, her 2018 EP, Between The Lines; J Elle is back and better than ever, delivering more impressive vocals and addictive R&B based melodies. And she certainly isn’t holding back. Ahead of the release of her newest track, out today; we sat down with the talented singer. And here’s what J Elle had to say on the release, her journey so far, and what’s to come.
BM: Tell me a bit about when you first got started in music.
J Elle: I started singing at around 8 or 9 and at the same time I got scouted for Arsenal Girls, which I eventually gave up because I was scared of being a tomboy at secondary school – dumb I know! Luckily my school was super helpful with my music. I did Popular Music at Goldsmiths University and that really broadened my horizons too. Since then I’ve been writing for myself and for other artists and loving every second.
BM: How would you describe your music style? What inspires you, musically?
J Elle: My sound is RnB, influenced by the 90’s and 00’s. People like Brandy and JoJo have inspired me massively on the vocal side. I used to (and occasionally still do) spend hours and hours repeating the same bit of a song to learn their riffs and runs until I could pull them off just as clean. The inspiration behind my sound comes more from a mixture of what I loved growing up and new sounds I’ve discovered like, Kiana Ledé & Kehlani. I think the over riding theme here is women inspire me, and mostly black women at that!
BM: Tell me a bit about your song-writing and creative process?
J Elle: I just love writing songs. It’s so cliché but it really is therapy for me. I mean, I had some sad family news a couple months ago and I felt probably the lowest I’ve felt in a long time and my first instinct was to write a song. It allows me to express things I can’t just say. I actually have a tattoo that describes this perfectly, “When words fail, music speaks”. I just write what I feel, it could be the most random thing. Don’t get it twisted, I’ve written some terrible songs too, you’ll never meet a writer who hasn’t, but it’s all about trial and error. My best advice is never be afraid to re write something, my best work has come from scrapping ideas and building them back up.
BM: Being heavily involved in the song-writing side of things, including writing for other artist such as Celina Sharma; how do you find that the production, writing and recording side of the creative process compares to performing and singing?
J Elle: They’re two completely separate entities that give two different feelings for me. The performance side is incredible, singing to people who know your songs is an unbeatable experience and the adrenaline of being on stage is unmatched. Being in the studio is like my safe place. I feel like it’s my little universe and I can just create what ever I want with no judgement. You’re with friends too, who are like minded, it’s a beautiful thing to me, every single time.
BM: You’re just about to release your incredible new single, Face It; Congratulations! What is the backstory or inspiration behind the track?
J Elle: Thank you! This one isn’t me being salty to an ex or anything, it’s actually from seeing people I know with their partners and taking from that. It’s about a relationship that’s kind of run its course and they’re better off apart. I was conscious of trying to write a song where the girl isn’t the crazy one when a relationship ends, throwing clothes out the window and like perpetuating that idea. I think it’s a more mature take on things, because people can break up and not hate each other, I mean I haven’t been there but I know it happens lol.
BM: A lot of your tracks, like Face It, are incredibly vulnerable and candid. How do you go about deciding exactly what you want to say and express within your music, especially when putting out really honest material?
J Elle: I just write what I feel, I don’t sit down and think I need to write a vulnerable record. If i’m feeling vulnerable that day then that’s how I’ll write. In all honesty that’s when the best songs are created. I feel like I’m somewhat of an introvert, but when it comes to music I’m not scared to say how I feel at all. I also love to read through my lyrics without the music and just see how it sounds. I want my songs to read almost like poems, or at least a story and make total sense when you read it without the music.
Being in the studio is like my safe place. I feel like it’s my little universe and I can just create what ever I want with no judgementJ Elle
BM: What is the most important thing you want people to take from your story and your music?
J Elle: That you can be who ever you want to be. Above music, above everything, I care so much about the marginalised and oppressed people in the world. I don’t want my legacy to just be ‘oh yeah, she made good music’, I want it to be ‘wow, she was a good person’. So if there wasn’t any better time in this interview to say … BLACK LIVES MATTER.
BM: Since releasing your debut EP Phases in 2017; how would you say your sound and vibe as an artist has changed or developed?
J Elle: I think it’s changed quite a lot actually. My sound initially was pretty dark. At that time there was some industry BS. I was ready to just be me, finally. But I was also still finding myself and my sound. My last EP, Between The Lines, was so much lighter. I was in a good space mentally, which definitely has an effect on what I create. I think the stuff I’m writing now is really exploring what it’s like to be a woman in regards to love, life, sex and not being afraid to do that.
BM: Who are some of your current inspirations and musical influences?
J Elle: I listened to so much Brandy, Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, Usher, JoJo, Brian McKnight, Christina Aguilera growing up. And more recently, Tori Kelly. What a gift that woman is. She’s gorgeous but has the voice of a literal angel. I love the mix of RnB, Neo-soul and Gospel that she creates, there’s something really special about her. Kiana Ledé really inspires me because of her vulnerability of what she writes and sings, but she sounds so cool while doing it.
BM: What’s next for you, musically?
J Elle: I want to continue to explore who I am and what I want to say. I want to keep writing for myself and for others. I really want to get back on stage and experience something like a tour. There’s a lot I want to do. For now, I can’t wait to have Face It out there, and I’m so excited for people to hear this track, I honestly think it’s one of the best pieces of music I’ve created so far.
An absolute pleasure to chat to J Elle, make sure to give her brand new single, Face It, a listen! For more on the talented singer, and to keep up with her journey and what’s to come; check out J Elle on her socials, @keepitjelle.
Posted By Stevie Carter