Elliphant! An Interview

Here I am, at Melt! festival getting this fabulous opportunity: a private meeting with Ellinor Olovsdotter aka Elliphant. I’ve never been stressed like this: I’ve been waiting for three long days for this interview. The sun was so warm I almost failed this morning. Don’t laugh, three long days with something like 36° and no shade at all. Anyway, I knew that my interview was at 15h50, so fair enough I made my way to the press area at 14h00, just the time, you know, to go through my questions once again and maybe add some more. I’m looking for articles over the web, and this when Nick, her manager calls me and asks me to come over earlier because the guy who should have been there before didn’t show up. OK. I’m taking all my stuff, start to run, finally get there sweating like a pig and with my heart in my throat. I was so stressed that when I finally sat in front of her, I started to look for the recording app on my phone which I was just unable to find. It’s like when you’re looking for your glasses and after 10 minutes you realize they’re on your nose. Same here, I was checking my phone and saying: “I’m so soorrrry, I don’t understand, I swear, it’s my phone, I didn’t steel it”. It’s not like it was my first interview, but the stress factor, the warmth, baaa. And then suddenly, being super cool and relaxed, Elliphant just took my phone and was like: “Okay, I know where it is, let me fix it..” and somehow, this little thing, was the best way to start our little chat. Here you can hear her doing the sound check on my phone:


KALTBLUT: How did you came to music?

Elliphant: Music is new to me, I am just doing it since two and half years. I was never into music before, life just gave it to me, like a present. I’m very creative, always been, but not a musician. I was just traveling and I met a lot of British people. Then I came home I got in to a relationship, it was a pretty serious one and it was my first. But we had a break up, and after that I just needed my friends, my friends from my travels. So I went to England, back to my friends who work with drum and base, dub step, so they have crews and go around in the suburbs of London and do amazing shows. They’re not commercial, they never released any records, they are just like a crew and they take over clubs. That’s what they do. So it was a very amazing experience to hang out with them for about seven weeks. I wasn’t doing so much music, I was just inspired. Before this trip, I was in Paris for my sisters birthday. There I met a guy and we started to talk about that he wanted me to help him writing songs for other artists. Then I went to England, he sent me some beats and I did some songs on it. He told me that we should really work together. So when I came home, in Sweden, we really started working together and this is how Elliphant was created. From the beginning I just wanted to make music, to make money. Maybe writing songs for other people, but then it turned out too personal and it was that no one could sing my songs. It was not like that, it was more like: I’m the artist.

Elliphant by Music is Life 3

KALTBLUT: So it means that you actually start with writing..

Elliphant: Ya, the writing came before the music. Because I was always writing poetry and words I appreciated a lot. I have been working with lyrics but not in a music thing.

KALTBLUT: When you met these people you actually realized that you’re able to sing your own lyrics yourself…

Elliphant: Everything together made this happen. I was inspired by musicians that lived a very hard core life in the suburbs of London and live for the music. They don’t have jobs, they don’t have anything. They live for the booze, the drugs, the music and their stickers. And their hoodies. That was very impressive. I was inspired. And at the same time I got the chance to work as a songwriter, with a producer. And these two together, made Elliphant.

KALTBLUT: I like the fact that in your lyrics there are a lot of dirty words, it makes all songs a bit more “real”, a bit less “polished”. It almost feels like you just write it like it comes, like you just want to say it. Do you care about how people may react to it or is it more like: This is me, I just do it the way I want to do it?

Elliphant: I never analyse my own lyrics. I just do it like that. All my lyrics are usually written when I go home from a night out. I don’t have anyone to put my energy on and I need to get it out by writing down stuff. And then I’m going to the studio, I look trough my words and I’m like okay, I got something and from there I make a song. Usually I have one day to make a fucking song! And the producers have forever to make the production.

Elliphant by Elsa Soläng
Photo by Elsa Soläng

KALTBLUT: Oh… That’s how it works…

Elliphant: I don’t work with one producer, I work with many. So for me it’s often a one or two days session. You know, most people who sing proper songs, they don’t write them themselves. They have professionals who write songs for them. Songs that have been all over the world for 4 years, millions of people already sang their songs. And then someone gets it, like Miley Cyrus or something, and she sings it amazing so she gets it, you know. But I can see this now, those songs are not made in one day. That’s why my music will always feel a little bit rushed, cause’ I really don’t care. I wanna make a new song, I’m not gonna dig into anything.

KALTBLUT: You never hide the fact that you are dyslexic and that you have ADD. How does it affect your working process?

Elliphant: Because of my dyslexia I wasn’t scared to create new words and create a new expression because I never really fell in love with the reality of things. So I could always space out in fantasy. When I look at hip hop and reggae that’s the only world in music where it’s actually accepted to write words that are not real, and to make sentences that don’t work together, because it’s in the moment, it’s right there. It’s not figured out, it hasn’t been all over the around the world, it’s the moment in the studio right there, BAM! My music is not always hip hop and not always reggae. It’s always that mindset. It’s always there, as we speak. That’s where it’s happening.

And also the ADD is perfect for an artist. I think one of the reasons I want to talk about it is that I don’t believe in that diagnostic. It’s nothing new, there has always been people born like me. The only thing that is different today is that before in humanity you looked at peoples skills and not trying to put them in line. Like Michelangelo, even if his family were workers, they saw that they can’t put him there, it’s gonna be terrible here for him. Like putting an ice bear in the jungle. But if we let him do his art he’s gonna be amazing and even if that was against what the society wanted. So even if you are in the right place, with the diagnose you don’t have to take any drugs and you don’t have to take medicine. You could just fucking get high on those drugs because you think it’s fun, just like everybody else. I’m taking the war for this, I’m in front line, I’m so angry that I’m not accepted for who I am. Cause the society is not meant to be like this, the society is meant to take care of their people, otherwise there is no reason to have a society. So instead they just medicate people, so if people are depressed, they take anti-depressive pills. Not like: “Maybe you should try to ride a horse or maybe you should make some sandcastles.” You don’t say that a to person that is depressed. These days you say: “So there are 4 different kinds of medicine that you can have.” And I don’t believe in a society in that way. I stopped voting, I stopped everything. I don’t give a shit, I don’t believe in this. Your crew is the future, take care of your family, take care of your friends, tell them that you love them, tell them that they’re good. We need to hear that, because everybody is bad in this new world.

KALTBLUT: Is ‘Could it be’ an autobiographical song?

Elliphant: Yes it is a break-up song. A very personal song.

KALTBLUT: After the release of the song, did the person you’re talking about contact you?

Elliphant: We didn’t talk about it. That is one of the reasons why we broke up. He couldn’t really understand this new thing with Elliphant. On my record I thank him, in the back speech. We never talked about it, he doesn’t know. But I know that he loves me. In my heart I know that he does. He is the biggest love of my life. But he probably knows because I think he looked at YouTube and he looked me up. But he didn’t call me and said: “Is ‘Could it be’ about me?” I think he’s just like: Mwwaaaahhh (doing like someone being proud).

KALTBLUT: Is it difficult for a woman to be in the mc / hip hop scene? People says it is quite a macho scene…

Elliphant: I’m almost the men, that’s the thing. I have fucking balls, like seriously, I almost have it physically too. I never even think about this stuff. I grew up with 2 gay guys and a crazy mother. Everything that has to do with gay and not gay, men, women, short, tall, black, white, for me, I don’t care. I see a person. If something is easy to see, I wouldn’t even see it if I didn’t know without people actually telling me this. This is one of my skills, obviously. Because I never saw any differences between people. Ever. They want me to do Pride Festival, I would do it but the thing is that for me I grew up in a gay community. I don’t believe in that “Pride” thing. I don’t believe in the fact that you have to be crazy because the gay people I know they have a lot of problems with the fact that their whole gay community is accepted for drugs, party, talking like this, fashion, because my people is only “people”. They don’t wanna read a book and make some pasta. I’m not going around saying like: “Hello I’m Elli and I’m straight!” I fell in love twice with girls, because I just fell in love. But it just didn’t turnout that it was a proper relationship.

live_melt

KALTBLUT: You’ve come across a lot of big names in the music industry. Which one was to the most exciting to meet?

Elliphant: No one. I just put this one up (on her cellphone she shows me a picture of her changing room door being just next to Portishead). This is the biggest starstruck I had in my life so far. Portishead just next my fucking door, for me that’s amazing. I met so many, but most people that I met are actually people that’s have been interested in me. So I didn’t reach out to anybody. It was more like I just answer the phone and I’ve got my friends like: Diplo is a good friend, and Sunny (Skrillex) we talk every day, he is one of my closest friends in L.A. and he means so much to me actually.

KALTBLUT: it’s actually just like you mentioned it before, you meet these people and for you they are just people, not more…

Elliphant: Yes, specially cause I wasn’t interested in music. I didn’t listen to music so much the ten last years. It’s like I didn’t know who Diplo was. I have been traveling. Of course you can get a little bit nervous at the point when you gonna meet people. Like when I was gonna meet Dr. Luke for the first time. I don’t remember being so nervous when I met him. But people are really nervous around him, like people working around him, so if you have that energy around you it can touch you but I wasn’t stressed. I just feel so lucky to have powerful musicians around me.

KALTBLUT: You keep on saying that music just happened to you. I actually read that photography was your first love, do you still have the time to practice?

Elliphant: My thing is little bit that I need to focus if I’m doing something. Because of my ADD I can’t do too many things at the same time. That’s been a problem actually before. I did photography and I the same time I did fashion and I was making so many things at the same time and I was also traveling and I had a boyfriend. But now I just realize if you are the person I am you should focus as fuck on something for a while until that place is a stable base and then you can start exploring other things. Also I was lucky, they stole my camera when I signed my music contract. The same week almost…

ELPHNT-(UrbanRo)-(6)

KALTBLUT: So it was a sign…

Elliphant: Exactly! It was a sign. I got a new camera, but I haven’t used it. It’s in my friends’ house, in Sweden. I don’t even care about it. I put it on the side, I can’t do too much at the same time.

KALTBLUT: When did you arrived to the festival? Did you have the time to see any other acts?

Elliphant: No, I just arrived today.. But SOHN is my friend, so I’m gonna go see him. For sure.

KALTBLUT: Last question, what kind of music do you listen when you’re on trip? 

Elliphant: Right now I’m listening to Umalali, The Garifuna Women’s Project. It’s an African women project. You can find it on Spotify. It’s so good!

KALTBLUT: Thank you very much, and good luck for tonight and thanks for the microphone. (LAUGHS)

Elliphant: (LAUGHS)

Interview by Nicolas Simoneau.

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