From London Raves to Global Stages: A Deep Dive into Elkka's Evolution
Jun 26, 2023
8 min read
In the realm of electronic music, there are few voices as distinct as Elkka's. Her journey from singer-songwriter to revered producer and DJ is as fascinating as it is inspiring. In this in-depth interview, Elkka peels back the layers of her musical evolution, her experiences in the industry, and her aspirations for the future. She shares how her move to London and exposure to diverse music genres shaped her artistically, and how her roots as a vocalist continue to influence her production.
With candid recollections of her early career, insights into her creative process, and glimpses of her upcoming projects, Elkka offers a comprehensive look into her world of music. Whether discussing her memorable experience at Berghain, her triumph of winning the BBC Essential Mix of the Year in 2021, or her advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, Elkka's passion for her craft and her commitment to authenticity shine through.
What inspired you to transition from a singer-songwriter to a multi-faceted producer and DJ?
When I moved to London, I was exposed to so much in my life that shaped me as a person and as an artist. My first flatmate there took me to my first ever rave and I was instantly transfixed and started to listen to more dance music for the first time. I had always loved trip hop, which was a bridge for me from loving hip-hop, R&B, and pop music growing up, but this was the first time I engaged with house, techno, and garage music.
How has your background as a vocalist shaped your approach to producing electronic music?
Not all my songs have my voice on them but if there isn’t a vocal hook I want to sing, I will find it elsewhere through sampling or synth sound that does the same job. I think all the music I make comes from the foundation of being a singer and songwriter. Even if it’s not in the structure, the desire for melody and warmth must be there throughout everything I make.
Can you share a memorable anecdote from your early days as a musician?
One of my breakthrough moments was sitting at home in London feeling quite flat about how my music was progressing. At the time Diplo was doing huge things (and still is) and so I decided I would email his manager - randomly - and send him music. You don’t expect a reply, but I thought why not! I did and unbelievably he got back to me, and we met up in London.
He then connected me with Diplo’s label Mad Decent and I did some writing and singing for them for a few releases! This was before I became a producer, but it was amazing for someone to see my potential talent and be willing to support it.
How do you maintain a balance between your roles as an artist, DJ, and label boss?
It’s a balance I must be super conscious of honestly. You must make sure you have time to write first and foremost as creating new music is essential, to show people who you are and how you are evolving and connect with you of course.
Performing is an extension of that and it can be hard to tour and write at the same time so sometimes the writing is paused in especially busy touring periods. But I find it hard to write without perfuming regularly as it fuels me as a human. I love being out there expressing myself and connecting to people in real life. It’s incredibly special and very inspiring. Then when I have time, I work on the label, but it does tend to fit around the other two.
Winning the BBC Essential Mix of the Year in 2021 was a significant milestone in your career. How did that recognition impact you and your work?
For me, it was the most gratifying moment of my career so far. I have admired and obsessed with my hero Essential Mixes for so many years. Every DJ / producer aspires to do one, it’s a real milestone career moment. So, to go and win Essential Mix of the Year was really beyond my wildest dreams. It's something I will always be able to look back on and feel incredibly proud of. It also allowed me to feel like I had earned my place in the scene.
How do you approach your DJ sets and live performances, and how do you ensure they resonate with your audience?
This sounds incredibly cliche but making sure I take people on a journey for both is important. I want to pull and push them in different directions and connect with them in a way that feels memorable to them and evokes something from within them. I think the way I write can be quite diverse and so can the DJ sets. But the resounding link to all of this I think is warmth.
Your music has received support from renowned artists like Four Tet and Caribou. How do these endorsements influence your creative process?
I think they mainly give you great confidence in what you’re making because these are the people who make music, I love the most. So, receiving their support is incredible.
What is the story behind the track "I Miss Raving," and how do you think it resonated with dance music fans during the pandemic?
IMR was the first piece of music I made when we went into lockdown in the UK. I struggled during this time like most people and missed the freedom of performing, raving, and connecting with people. I didn’t realize where the sentiment was coming from when I first wrote it, it wasn’t planned but as soon I went to create a title for it - this is what came to mind!
How do you stay connected with your LGBTQ+ and female fans, and how do their voices inspire your music and projects?
As a queer woman, I don’t hide who I am and what inspires me so through the music I make, the record label, and being open with who I am I think this happens naturally.
Are there any emerging artists on your radar that you think the dance music community should keep an eye on?
What challenges have you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge was finding my voice and identity as an artist - before I was producing, I just didn’t know what that was and felt lost. As soon as I started producing for myself and self-releasing that all changed. I went from sending out emails asking for help or support to being pursued by the industry offering for them to help me.
How has your music evolved since you first started, and where do you see it going in the future?
I think you are constantly inspired by what’s around you and this can happen quite unconsciously too so my music will always evolve in sound. I will be singing more now though, that’s something I am trying to consciously do particularly while writing my debut album. I am ready to go back to where I started and use my voice again more in my songs.
Can you share a memorable experience or encounter you've had while performing at a music festival or club?
This would probably have to be DJing at Panorama Bar in Berghain. I have done this twice now fortunately and both times have been honestly incredible. It is a special place to play. I feel total freedom there to play anything. The crowds are so patient and open and as a queer person, I feel very safe and liberated.
What advice would you give to aspiring producers and DJs looking to make a name for themselves in the dance music scene?
Find your own identity with the music, do not worry about what genre it is or if it fits in. First of all, you need to love it and let the rest follow. It took me years to figure that out and early on I got stifled by too many opinions and couldn’t hear my own.
How do you stay creative and motivated in an ever-changing industry?
Well, I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s something I must do to feel balanced. So, I don’t really need to do anything to feel motivated but sometimes taking a break and just living life is important outside of the industry to fuel my creativity.
You need to do the normal things as well as the incredible moments from touring etc. Otherwise, you can feel quite disconnected from those around you and that affects how I feel and therefore how I write. So, a balanced life I think helps me maintain creativity.
What are your plans, and can fans expect any upcoming releases or performances from Elkka?
Well, I am currently working on my debut album which is incredibly exciting and there will be some music coming out this summer as well as touring all over the world!