Podcast 637: ELLES
Emotive rave from a rising Londoner.
Podcast 637: ELLES
Emotive rave from a rising Londoner.
ELLES recently popped up on Naive with Summers_Of_Love, her first full release on the Lisbon label comprising four wonky, off-kilter cuts. She’d previously released on Naivety, Naive’s digital-only sub-label, with an EP of predominantly beatless dreamscapes, but this latest outing marked a significant step in a career that’s taken her from the UK capital’s dancefloors to a position as one of its exciting and original musical talents.
Many Londoners in the know, of course, will already be familiar with ELLES’ through Rinse FM and Netil Radio, where she’s a monthly resident, and through her sets across the city. But ELLES has also long held close ties to the Lisbon scene, her “spiritual home,” she says, in part because she’s one of only a handful of foreigners to have put out music on labels based there.
Her first official release came as a celebratory string of female-only covers of acid house classics with Violet for International Women’s Day in 2016, and her experimental take on house and techno—with emotive vocals, oneiric pads, cascading harps, and arpeggios—sits comfortably within the burgeoning pool of artists who call the Portuguese capital home.
As word spreads of ELLES’ skills, now seemed a good time to have her capture them with an XLR8R podcast, recorded in an empty London apartment as she prepared to move. At just over an hour in length, it’s a demonstration of her a breadth as a DJ, ranging from experimental and ambient to post-punk, UK garage, and acid, all with the gentle, emotional undertone that underpins her work. You’ll hear several of her own tracks plus some contributions from Dark Entries, a label that sits close to her heart. Eris Drew, Björk, and Octo Octa all feature, resulting in a mix that’s sure to have you coming back for more.
What have you been up to recently?
Musically, working on lots of new stuff—a couple of remixes and EPs plus another collaborative project. Apart from that, moving house, which has been a bit of a drawn-out process. Every time I move in London I question every record, book, and clothing purchase I’ve ever made. That said, I’m also totally grateful to have stuff to move and a roof over my head and it’s all worth it once you’re in the new place though, right?
Talking broadly, what was your route into electronic music?
I guess it started from parties and going to clubs, which is where DJing occurred as an idea. I’d always wanted to make music and DJing seemed like it could be a route in—and after that, because I didn’t really have resources to do anything else but had a burning desire, I started making stuff with a cracked copy of a well-known music-making software. Which evolved into a paid-for copy in the fullness of time, because there’s only so much crashing and lost work the nerves can take.
Which records, artists, or labels are impressing you right now?
Artist-wise, there are so many amazing people in my second spiritual home of Lisbon at the moment, like Shcuro, Odete, BLEID, and the whole mina crew. On a more UK tip, Loraine James is excellent. I love Fantastic Twins. I really like this band Deep Tan that I saw lately. Pepe and gayphextwin, who are also on naive, are incredible. I could go on all day. DJ-wise there are also too many great people at the moment. I love to be able to invite folks on the Rinse show and have been so fortunate to have so many favorites on over the past year or so.
As far as labels go, I’m clearly biased but Naive is a dream and also Dark Entries is incredible. Ines [Coutinho, founder of Naive] and Josh [Cheon, founder of Dark Entries] respectively have an unreal work ethic and unrelentingly great taste.
How are you finding London at this time of the year?
Wet, mainly! Actually I like this time of year in general, with the promise of spring in the air, and it feels hopeful and full of possibilities with the year still stretching out in front.
Where are your favorite places to find new music?
I’m a massive Bandcamp fan. It’s great for so many reasons and especially as the money you pay goes directly to the artist and label. I like that you have every conceivable genre there too, which I enjoy. I like a very eclectic approach in most things. Otherwise, a rummage in a good record shop is always a joy; the guys behind Netil Radio have just opened a new place, Hidden Sounds in Hackney, which is worth a check for sure. And I began my record collection from charity shop buys so they always have a dear place in my heart too.
You’ve just released on Naive. How did you connect with Violet?
I met Ines kind of via her boyfriend some years ago, and we became Twitter friends initially, then moved it onto DMs, then in real life. She has always been super supportive and encouraging in all senses, not just related to music, and she is my go-to for advice for many things. We have always been on the same wavelength about stuff musically and collaborated on a few tracks a couple of years ago. She invited me to be part of the International Women’s Day cover series she was doing and then we did some original tracks together too, and the rest is history more or less!
When and where did you record the mix?
At my (now) old house, amongst the boxes. In fact, the decks were set up on the floor because a bunch of stuff was already in storage, like their Ikea shelf, so I was sitting cross-legged like I was doing a jigsaw puzzle or something. So it certainly was a unique, albeit not unpleasant experience.
How did you select the tracks that you’ve included?
It’s mainly just tunes I really love and artists I super admire, including several naive and naivety label-mates. I tend not to ever play a single style or genre, which is why I love radio so much: there’s an opportunity to go far and wide. I think the tunes are a fairly accurate representation of the ideas present in my past two EPs: emotional, ravey, bittersweet at times, and bumping at others.
Do you think carefully about your ambitions in music?
I definitely have a lot I want to achieve, if that’s what you mean? I think because it was a desire I had for so long but never thought I would be good enough to do or whatever, and now I’ve made the decision to believe in my work and ideas in general, it feels like the flood gates have opened as far as what I’d like to do with it. I’ve written a bunch of tunes that are bit more like new wave and post-punk which I’d like to put out on an indie label rather than just a straight dance imprint or whatever; also I’m very inspired by things like art, film, and fashion and I would love to design a soundtrack for a runway show or work collaboratively with a designer for example. So I guess, in answer to your question, yes!
What are your broader plans for 2020?
Broadly, create even more music that I love, develop the live show into something that is much more of a performance, continue working with amazing people, be kinder to myself, and wherever possible use my “powers” for good.
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to download the podcast you will need to subscribe to our Select channel. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
01. Machine Woman “Have You Ever Been To Salford Shopping Centre, Have You Seen Argos?” (Take Away Jazz Records)
02. Borusiade “Follow” (Dark Entries)
03. Hassan Abou Alam “T44” (naivety)
04. Jeff Milf “Now you know my name” (self-released)
05. Ariel Zetina “So Meaty!!” (Circa A.D)
06. Amrint Keen “Transient Loss Of Response” (Uncanny Valley)
07. Pépe “Palink Hammer” (gayphextwin remix) (naive)
08. Octo Octa “Can You See me” (T4T LUV NRG)
09. Sepehr “Coup D’etat” (Dark Entries)
10. Loraine James “Gays with me” (I’m good) (New York Haunted)
11. Björk “Hyperballad” (The Hyperballad Fluke Mix) (One Little Indian)
12. LCY “U” (SZNS7N)
13. Shy One “Lads” (Astral Black)
14. ELLES “put on our classics” (naive)
15. Eris Drew “So Much Love To Give” (Interdimensional Transmissions)
16. Anna Wall & Corbi “DATs 1&2” (Escape Earth Remix) (Ritual Poison)
17. ELLES “IF U LOVE ME” (Unreleased)
18. Xao “Hydroxyapatite” (Astral Black)
19. Aphex Twin “Avril 14th” (Warp)
20. ELLES “dreamed u again” (naivety)
21. Special Request “QIUET STORM” (self-released)