Q&A with Swedish Wild Child, ELLIPHANT Who Is Making Waves With Her Unclassifiable Catchy Jams, Stylish Videos, And Outspoken Personality.
Posted On 14 Nov 2014
Tag: Aaliyah, AC & Billboard, ADHD, Al Shux, Alexander Frederic, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Berlin, Bonnie McKee, Booty Killah, Bunji Garlin, Charli XCX, dancehall, Dave Sitek, David Bowie, Diplo, Down On Life, Dr. Luke, dyslexia, Ellinor Olovsdotter, Elliphant, Fédération Internationale de Football Association, FEMME, FIFA, FIFA World Cup, futbol, Gwen Stefani, Hip Hop, Hype Machine, Icona Pop, India, Indonesia, Instagram, Jamaica, Jamaican, Jeff Buckley, Joel Little, Juicy J, Jungle, KATY PERRY, Ke$ha, Kemosabe, Kemosabe Records, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Leonard Cohen, London, Look Like You Love It, M.I.A, Mad Decent, Mad Decent Block Party, Massive Attack, Miami, MØ, Nicole DeRosa, No Doubt, One More, One More EP, Only Getting Younger, Paris, Portishead, Prodigy, provocative pop, R&B, rave music, Reggae, Revolusion, Rough Rider, Scandinavian, Seinabo Sei, Skrillex, Stockholm, Sweden, Swedish, Swedish black metal, Swedish musician, TEN Music Group, TEN/Kemosabe, The B52s, Tim Deneve, Tommy Tysper, TV On The Radio, West Indian
“I met Elli on another planet. She’s like the sixth element!” – Diplo
“Listening to Elliphant’s music may induce ear boneritis.” – Dr. Luke
This year, record company TEN/Kemosabe/ Mad Decent unleashed Look Like You Love It, the new, highly anticipated new EP from Elliphant. Elliphant is the music-making moniker of Swedish wild-child Ellinor Olovsdotter, who’s made waves internationally with a series of unclassifiable catchy jams, outrageous, stylish videos, and an unpredictable, outspoken persona.
Look Like You Love It, demonstrates the considerable impact she’s already achieved: it features production from Skrillex, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Dr.Luke, and Diplo himself, in addition to innovative tracks from cutting-edge beatmakers and guest vocalists spanning Europe, Jamaica, and the States. And of course, over the top of it all is the irrepressible voice and iconoclastic attitude of Elliphant, whose buzz led her to be signed as a flagship artist for Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe label (already home to the likes of Ke$ha, Juicy J, and megastar songwriter Bonnie McKee).
Olovsdotter calls the music she makes as Elliphant “provocative pop,” and that’s exactly what she serves up on Look Like You Love It.
“It’s not following any of the rules of pop music, which is very controlled,” she explains. “My music is very wild and constantly changing – it can be rock, electronic, soft and hard, about nothing or everything.”
According to Olovsdotter, the seven tracks on Look Like You Love It showcase what she calls the “four worlds of Elliphant.”
“Sunny [Skrillex] has believed in me from the beginning. I got a call one day from him, and he said, ‘Hey, I got your number from Wes [Diplo] –I want to work together. Two days later, he came to Sweden, and we starting making songs.”
All of these tracks feature Elliphant’s distinctively haunting yet aggressive vocals, which put an individualistic twist on the West Indian flavor spanning ragga rave, drum-and-bass MCs, and reggae/dancehall vocalists from Elephant Man to Lee “Scratch” Perry.
“Only in reggae and hip-hop do you get to be open and creative with language like that. The words might change and mutate, but you still know what it’s about from the vibe. I did a couple of songs like that, and everyone was like, ‘What the fuck are you doing? Don’t do that!’ But I really enjoyed it, and now I’m never going to let it go.”
As such, Elliphant’s personal story proves as unlikely as her music. She was raised in a rough part of Stockholm as the daughter of an absent father and a drug-addict mother.
“My mom’s a full-on punk –she was into amphetamines and heroin, but she loved music, and made us stand in the record store for hours listening to albums after school.”
In her childhood, Olovsdotter was exposed to a wide range of sounds and genres – David Bowie, The B52s, Swedish black metal, early rave music.
“I was a really pretentious kid into Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley. Then I discovered Massive Attack, Portishead, and No Doubt. I loved that Gwen Stefani did whatever she wanted –that was an inspiration. I’m a woman, I do whatever I want, and it’s okay.”
Olovsdotter’s leap into music came when she dropped out of school at 15 after struggling with ADHD and dyslexia. By 19, she’d become a world traveler – living on the streets of Indonesia and India (where she sang with an electronica band), absorbing the club scenes in London and Berlin.
“Since I was a little kid, I always knew I wanted to express myself in every way imaginable, Ellipant is my channel: I began to realize we live in a world full of illusions and ideas, and it’s 100% my responsibility to create my life how I want it. The only thing I think is cool about me is that I can be open. We’re at an original place in human history, and I have the courage to share myself with the world.”
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa got to chat with Elli in her “treehouse” before she flies off to Miami for the Mad Decent Block Party this month. Read more below.
Hi Elli! Where does this interview find you? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
Well you’re my fourth interview. I woke up, the sun was shining…it was really cold last night, so I woke up freezing though cuz I live in like this little tree house and in the day it’s super warm and at night it’s really cold. It’s a very small problem (laughs)
I’m going into session with a couple of British friends to see if we can make some songs. I think I’m gonna have to also go out of the country and come back because of the Visa stuff. Small, complicated shit like that. (laughs) This month is full of small stuff, I need to go to Miami and do some work, but then in December, I’m digging myself down in the studio. It will be so lovely.
How did your musical journey begin?
I’ve always been creative. I always wanted to do some creative stuff…a lot with photography, I’ve been painting my whole life. I’ve always had creative ideas but was stuck in the restaurant industry because I’ve been hooked on traveling so I would work at a restaurant, go away, travel, come back, work…that’s been my life for a very long time, my entire life almost.
There was one point, I was in Paris, with my sister and she had a birthday and there was this Swedish guy there named, Tim Deneve (member of the Swedish producer-duo ‘Jungle’). He had some weird production (song) with some melodies and he needed someone to put some words on it for another artist. It was for the song, “Jungle.”
What was the creative process like for “Jungle”? I understand it got picked up pretty quickly from FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association).
I was just getting back into the studio when I returned to Stockholm and just got really creative and tried to put words and melodies along to the song. We needed to do something pretty quickly and we did it from scratch and it turned out to be a song that got picked up really quickly. FIFA (futbol) picked it up and we needed to put a name on the project, so we came up with the name Elliphant.
What was it like making the video?
We put out a video, but we didn’t show my face as we didn’t know if we wanted to put it out as a group or as me, as an artist. We didn’t know what we wanted to do with it. We didn’t know anything. They started to feel like they wanted to work with other artists and I started to get intrigued by the label that had a lot of artists to work and experiment with too.
Because I finished school early and I didn’t really have the confidence then, everything went to shit. When I got my first job, that’s when I got my second chance to be loyal to my role and to take responsibility.
Your video for the song, “Down on Life” made a HUGE impact. Katy Perry even tweeted that it was, “One of the most bad ass music videos I’ve seen in a long time.” That’s pretty…badass!
Were you involved in the treatment for the “Down on Life” video?
Yeah, I’ve been involved in the treatment of all my videos. I consider it a project, an artists project. I’m gonna be involved in everything I do. At some point in the beginning, you have to let go a little bit because you need people to be free and let them to be free too because that is when you get the best work out of everyone. For “Down on Life,” we were a small crew of four people out there in one car with tons of cameras and out in the cold.
You just released your highly anticipated One More EP. The EP features a handful of previously unheard tracks alongside the title track , “One More” featuring fellow Scandinavian singer, MØ.The video has garnered an impressive 250,000 + plays in just a week, becoming Hype Machines #1 Most Tweeted Video of the Day.
What was it about “One More” that you were like, “That’s the one! That’s my single!”
I never have any ideas like that. I know many people have that, like they know what they wanna do and what sound they want when they go into a session. I guess it just depends on what kinda person you are and for me, I’m still in like the first grade. (laughs) I just feel, if I like the beat, obviously if I didn’t like the beat, I wouldn’t do anything with it. But I mean, I never think, is this my sound? Is this my style?
What was it like working with acclaimed producer, Joel Little on “One More”?
When I got into the studio, Joel Little has a very specific style when he makes music. He does very clean, very delicate melodies. Very clean productions. I’ve very thankful to my label that connected us because that is really what I think I needed in my biology, in my evolution in this. That was like a space I needed to work in and I think I needed it that I shit that song out in like four seconds. (laughs) It was the easiest song I’ve ever written in my entire life. I’ve never written something that easy. It was just that beat….(sings the chorus) “Come on na sugar, come…“
How did the lyrics and beat come about for “One More”?
I mean, usually my songs start with the word, “come” actually. I don’t know why, but it’s just a good way of starting a song. (laughs) It just continued from that. In my world, I thought the lyrics were too simple. I thought the lyrics would probably not have that effect on people that it has. I was a little ashamed by the lyrics, “I like it here, fuck work..Plus you said your boss is a jerk.” I thought people were gonna think that was like the stupidest lyric ever….like I thought it was so silly and now I love it so much! (laughs) And I just realized the production made the song. The beat was so clean and so clear, that the song couldn’t be any more complicated. So it became a very clear message. It’s about friendship.
What was it like growing up in Stockholm?
My crew and where I grew up in Stockholm was a rough place. Not in the sense of guns and violence. It was more like people having a hard time, single mothers with different fathers, a lot of alcoholism and drug addicts and stuff like that. Most of my crew has a lot of sadness inside and when we hang out it’s not so pretty.
“It’s not what you see in most Instagram posts of a night out with the girls. When we go out, we have a couple of beers but we still talk about work and then after that we get in to some pretty super serious stuff.”
Nobody can hang out with us because they get depressed and want to commit suicide but we are used to it..this is how we talk.We got drunk when we were fucking nine. We’ve been talking like this since then. We are very deep. My ex boyfriend couldn’t understand. He would come pick me up and he couldn’t believe what we were talking about and that we actually had a good time talking about it. So that song represents that, it’s full of loaning and emptiness and loneliness. Friendship is a lot of responsibility. The song didn’t really express that but I think people understand that now.
What is it like for woman to have an identity in Stockholm?
Women have lost their place a little bit. Women have been cooking food and having babies for thousands and thousands of years. Obviously that’s not the only thing that we are supposed to do. Today, suddenly we are so free…like a Swedish woman…I’m not only from the most liberal free country in the world. I’m also from the most liberal free area of that country. It’s a blessing but nothing is black and white. Everything is a gray zone. We lost our place and now women of today need to go through a hard period of finding our new place there and really find a good place out of that one.
You just wrapped up a tour with Charli XCX and FEMME. How was that?
Charli and I spent a couple nights here in LA and I really like her and we made a good connection. She’s super cool. Our managers and label have a history, so it was a natural choice when she did this. For me, it was a nature choice to say yes to it because it was a very good opportunity for me to reach out to my younger fans in America.
Any highlights from the tour?
I’ve been doing some touring and show, but I’ve never done a show that was under 21 so going on a 20 date tour all over where I can meet my younger fans and represent my project to a more different group of people was very cool.
Yeah, that was the thing…Either I’m used to a really fucked up audience that just get loose or a really straight audience that really just analyzes what I’m doing and stand there. Obviously, I’ve got a lot of fucking cool fans (laughs)…but these kids are crazy! They come dressed like you, they scream and sing. It’s rather fun!
Who is in your current playlist?
I don’t listen to anything…I’m boring like that. (laughs) But on tour, since we’re in the car a lot, the guys play a lot of music. I do listen to a lot of the Jamaican scene. It gives me a good vibe. The new Alkaline stuff and yeah, all those guys. Jamaican people. Man, I love that shit! (laughs)
Also in Sweden that is a girl named, Seinabo Sei. She is amazing. She comes from the same part of my city. I love her voice and something real comes out of her voice. There’s so much cool shit that comes out of Sweden, but the most commercial things are the ones that go worldwide. This girl is breaking those rules. She is awesome.
I mean, I listen to a lot of my stuff, because during this progression, you need to focus on yourself. You can’t get too focused or impressed with others. It’s easy to compare and get too distracted listening to other music. It’s only when I’m drunk, I put music on…and in that case, its like the Jamaican stuff. (laughs)
You’ve worked with a lot of acclaimed producers like, Skrillex, Dr. Luke, Joel Little, Tommy Tysper, AC & Billboard and Al Shux. Is there anyone you would like to work with and collaborate with in the future?
I don’t think there is gonna be an end to any of this. All the guys you mention that I have been involved with the better projects that have been coming out, I’m going to continue collaborating with those guys. I’m not going to get closed off to working with just one producer or anything like that. I’m constantly going to be working with a different people. But obviously, I’m listening to new sounds and I look for new sounds and interesting producers.
“Right now, Sweden is pumping out a lot of amazing producers which is very good for me. I mean, it’s gonna be a lot of good work coming. Everyone can expect more songs from the people I’ve worked with and obviously some new things.”
To learn more about ELLIPHANT, visit her website here .