Elle Leatham jumps between recording artist and producer on the regular, to the point that she's not sure which identity best defines her. In an era of bedroom producers and self-promoting independent artists, Elle Leatham thrives in the DIY music scene. Beginning her career as a songwriter and vocalist in the Bay Area, she learned music production in order to have more control over her sound, and to challenge traditional gender roles that often dominate the industry. After being apart of a few musical collectives and dabbling in genres from R&B to Folk, Elle went on a 3 year hiatus, only to emerge more creative and versatile than ever before.
Fueled by the energy of LA's underground art scene, Elle started putting together new demos that showcased a variety of production skills, while retaining the rawness of lofi. The resulting 5 track EP, “Fringe Like Vengeance”, explores themes of isolation, introspection, technology, sex, and existentialism. The majority of the EP is composed on a Juno-106s, and begins with an indie synth-pop vibe that slowly builds into the bass driven realm of synthwave.
“Blowhard” ethereal vocals and a charmingly lofi synthwave or indie-pop. I love the melodious tunes that set Elle apart in the music industry in a big way. Her echoing vocals are a divine experience for any listener. “Grind” is a bass-driven track that takes up through a soft yet funky journey of sound arrangements. Elle Leatham has an alluring and addicting vocal range. It's a smoky and sultry addition to her tracks that we can’t get enough of.
“Gone Marina” is a retrospective track that tells a story of Elle’s inner thoughts and feelings. We love this danceable synth-laden track. Elle Leatham curates easily relatable songs for her listeners. She’s vulnerable and real through her lyricism in order to form stronger connections with her fans. “W&M” is a funky song with elements of Neo soul, alternative indie-pop and Elle’s notable lofi sound. Moving through the experimental waves of sound, Elle takes us on a journey through her track about “Women & Madness”. The seductive soundscape personifies what it is to be a woman.
“Opinion Generators” is the concluding song on this fiery EP “Fringe Like Vengeance”. We’re sad to see it end, but “Opinion Generators” ignites a catchy, boogie feeling in our soul and we can’t help but groove along. Elle Leatham has once again entranced me from start to finish. She lays down tight grooves, fuses sultry vocals on top and adds her authentic flare and individual aesthetic to every track. We love this synth-pop driven EP and can’t wait to see what Elle Leatham brings to the table next!
Check out “Fringe Like Vengeance” here and read more with Elle Leatham below!
Hi Elle! What advice would you give to your younger self now, when you first started writing music?
Get more comfortable with instruments, and keep finding better ways to record. It’s really the same advise I still give myself. The instrument might be a sequencer/keyboard/guitar/computer or whatever - just get really comfortable with it. The more you understand an instrument, the better it can express your intentions, and your music will sound better. Finding the best way to record is a similar experience, because a lot of engineers feel that same way about their gear as the artist does the instrument. Be comfortable with your instruments, and find recording methods to capture all of them.
Can you tell us about the meaning behind the lyrics in our favorite track, “W&M”?
Thank you! The lyrics stemmed from something a friend had said to me, “women are crazy, and men are dumb.” She didn’t mean it as a personal opinion, but rather that these two identities are how women and men often see each other. I think it’s more the result of how we perceive different ways of communicating, and “crazy” and “dumb” get assigned as explanations to psychologies we fail to understand. W&M focuses on the identity of “crazy” women, deconstructing the source of that madness, and how it visually manifests. The original drafts focused heavily on origins such as motherhood and survival, and the final revision is a lot more playful and digestible. It retained all of the brash directness though, and that was essential.
What do you hope your listeners take away from “Fringe Like Vengeance”?
The EP is inspired by some of my favorite songs from the 60’s and 80’s, so I hope there’s a nostalgic retro undertone that listeners can vibe with. Last year I acquired a Juno 106s synthesizer, which is a pretty distinguished 80’s sound, and I saturated just about every track with as many Juno textures as possible. There’s a few MicroKORG appearances but the majority is definitely the Juno. I filled the space with a lot of fuzzy reverb and blown out bass, but overall I hope people hear the warmth of everything. “Fringe” is a reference to being both unconventional and decorative, and “vengeance” is meant like a measurement of ominous intensity. If either of those concepts resonate with listeners, either lyrically or in the overall feel, then I’ll be very happy.
Do you have a specific person or event that inspired you to begin creating music?
As a kid, my family’s records and cassette deck were in the same closet as the VHS tapes and office supplies. So anytime I needed scotch tape or wanted to watch a movie, I had to see the different audio players. I think having all of that equipment in a small but highly frequented space was huge, because eventually I got curious, first discovering old headphones and then a microphone. I actually keep those same headphones stored in my amp cabinet for good luck, even though they never worked. The microphone did work though, and from 9 to 18 the movie closet was my recording studio. My focus was on lyrics and connecting with the recording, which is how I learned to conceptualize a song. It wasn’t until I went to production school that all of that was challenged, and instrumentation became my main focus.
What are your career goals for the remainder 2019? We’d love to hear your ideas!
There’s a constant exchange between Los Angeles and Bay Area artists, and I love being a part of that. I do think it could be way more transformative though, so I think the rest of 2019 into 2020 is going to involve finding better ways to support touring artists and sharing our audiences. I’ve started working on some collaborative retro-wave and R&B projects with the goal of involving artists from different parts of the coast and building shared content. I could even end up on the road myself!
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