Elkka on Prism of Pleasure: Crafting Queer Intimacy and Sensuality

We spoke to Cardiff-born producer and DJ Elkka just before her debut album Prism of Pleasure on Ninja Tune was released. Spanning 18 months, the album reflects Elkka’s journey as a bold, queer woman who gradually pieced together her identity. Moving to London in her 20s, she began DJing and producing, eventually launching her own record label, femme culture. Prism of Pleasure, centred on queer intimacy and featuring artwork by her wife Alex Lambert, showcases a blend of silken vocals and emotional beats. Elkka, recognized for her vibrant releases and celebrated with awards such as BBC’s Essential Mix of the Year, continues to champion the LGBTQ+ dance community with her spellbinding mixes and energetic club tools.

KALTBLUT: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind ‘Your Skin’ and how it fits into the overall theme of your debut album Prism of Pleasure?

Well the main inspiration for me when writing this album was queer and female pleasure. It’s a deeply personal record to me as an artist and as a woman and this is something that I kept being drawn back to. ‘Your Skin’ represents one side of this – it’s a song about obsession and desire for someone when you cannot get enough of them, for better or worse! You are obsessed with how they smell, and taste, that heady feeling you get from being near them. But pleasure is so multifaceted and personal, this is just one small part of that and I tried to explore the many facets of pleasure in this album.

KALTBLUT: You mentioned that your identity as a bold, queer woman is central to your work. How do you see this aspect reflected in your music and performances?

For me to be true to myself as an artist, being vocal and feeling empowered as a queer woman is something that I could not hide.  It’s essential to who I am.

I totally respect that not everyone wants / needs to put their sexuality at their forefront of their music but I didn’t have very clear role models growing up. Celebrating sex, sensuality is still such a taboo for women, for queer people, I wanted to break through that.  I feel like I would be hiding such an important part of myself if I didn’t. So I allow that to really show itself in the music I write, the music I DJ, the visuals I choose…all of it points to be celebrating my queerness.

KALTBLUT: With your background in DJing, writing, producing, and running your own record label, femme culture, how do you feel these different roles contribute to your artistic expression and vision?

I think it means you are constantly a sponge to all facets of music and art in general. I get to collaborate with so many different people from different parts of the industry and beyond, I think this allows me to be creative in a more multi dimensional way. Which is probably why I could never make music that sounds like one specific genre. I love surprising people with the music I make, produce, DJ or release as a record label boss. I am moved by things I love, that generate a feeling of warmth, depth, excitement, euphoria. Having these different roles allows me to not want to sit still and endlessly inspires me fundamentally with my own art.

KALTBLUT: Can you walk us through the process of composing Prism of Pleasure over 18 months? What were some of the challenges and highlights of creating this body of work?

Writing an album instantly felt very different. I really went into it with clear intentions that I wanted it to be a personal record to me as an artist and as a woman. I really wanted to take my time to write a very personal record, something that I felt exposed more deeply who I was and where I had come from. I also knew I wanted to sing far more than ever before. When I stopped writing for other people and started to produce for myself, my voice really took a backseat for a number of years but through touring last year and singing more, seeing the connection with people when I sang, I knew the time was to come back to it once more. Another vital thing I pushed myself to do was to collaborate. I have sort of hibernated and shied away from that previously but I was excited by the idea of working with people who could bring things to this record that I could not such as the incredibly talented John Caroll Kirby who features on two songs. All of this challenged me and I had moments of doubt and feeling uncomfortable, had I tried to do too much, was it too personal, can i work alongside this person but those moments in my experience only make for better art. 

KALTBLUT: Your music has been described as a blend of classic house, breakbeat, and experimental electronica. How do you approach blending different genres and styles to create your unique sound?

Honestly, I really don’t overthink it. I am very intuitive with what I write/produce/DJ. If it resonates with me in a certain way, I just follow that through. But this is taken me time to trust that! I would worry should I be doing things like other people, music thats fashionable or DJ like artists I admire but the answer is simply no. For it to be unique it truly has to come from you, thats your DNA that no one else has and what makes it special. I think I really found that confidence in my 30s…which is a huge blessing.

KALTBLUT: You’ve performed at various intimate spaces and queer parties around the world. How important is it for you to create inclusive and safe spaces within the music community? How have you seen them change over the years?

It is vital. I will always support, promote LGBTQI+ voices as thats my community and its one that inspires so many but often gets put into the shadows. We need more and its everyones responsibility to help create a safe and inclusive environment for all. It has got better over the years but there really is such a long way to go.

KALTBLUT: Could you share your experience contributing to the DJ-Kicks series?

I was so honoured to be asked to do this, I really had to try not to be overwhelmed by it. It’s a series that was part of my music education honestly so was quite surrelal to be asked to create my own. It was a wonderful and challenging experience and I really set myself one goal which was that I would still be proud of it in 10 years time…so ask me again then!

KALTBLUT: As you prepare to celebrate the release of Prism of Pleasure with a series of parties, what can fans expect, and how do you hope to connect with your audience through these live performances?

These parties are about creating a safe space for FLINTA people to come and express themselves alongside some of the best queer and femme lineups around. FLINTA spaces are underrepresented (even in major cities like London!) so it was always important to me that my headline shows addressed this. I’m hoping this is the start of an even bigger party series :)

Photo by @alexlambertphoto

Elkka Tour Dates
June 14, 2024 Elkka (DJ) @ Les Bains Numériques, Enghien-Les-Bains, FR
June 16, 2024 Elkka (DJ) @ Else, Berlin, DE
July 12, 2024 Elkka (DJ) @ Brockwood Festival, Winchester, UK
July 13, 2024 Elkka (DJ) @ Love Trails Festival, Swansea, UK
July 13, 2024 Elkka (DJ) @ El Dorado, Ledbury, UK
July 20, 2024 Elkka (DJ) @ Tomorrowland, Boom, BE
August 11, 2024 Elkka (DJ) @ Boardmasters, Trebelsue Farm, UK
August 16, 2024 Elkka (DJ) @ VENOGE FESTIVAL, PENTHAZ, CH
September 28, 2024 Elkka (DJ) @ Boundary Fest, Brighton, UK

Prism of Pleasure is out now: https://elkka.komi.io