Firstly, congratulations on the new release of your new single, “Hoping.”
- When did you first realize you wanted to become a music artist?
Music has always been a part of my life. My parents are both musical; My Mum is a piano tuner, the first female piano technician for Steinway & Sons and my Dad is a jazz pianist come entrepreneur and so it really does feel like part of my DNA. Having said that I went away from music for a little bit growing up. I love all forms of expression; art, storytelling and philosophy, so I studied film at University. My first job was at CNN and I was making music and content for the feature network’s shows (which was really a dream job). I think music kept coming back to me until one defining moment a few years ago where my Mum bought be a digital piano for my birthday. It was like being reunited with an old friend but more than that a missing piece of myself. I couldn’t stop writing and I had this real feeling of ‘this is what I am supposed to do, no matter what’.
- How did you come up with idea for the music video, “Hoping”?
Originally, I had a very clear vision that was that Hoping was destined to be filmed at The Painted Hall of the Old Royal Naval College. Filming in lockdown changed my original idea of working with a group of 14 dancers. I connected with Joseph Adesunloye and we created a more intimate type of treatment to the song with the incredible support of my producer Megan Stewart. We wanted to incorporate dance as an expressive device to represent the freedom of love in the visuals and we were lucky enough to work with two incredible dancers, Mica Bradbury and Leo Dixon who are first artists of The Royal Ballet. The narrative changed, and they represented my imagination unchained, coming out of lockdown. We replicated them in post to create the feeling of breaking free. You can also see some incredible jungle shots from the Amazon interlaced in the piece, which were shot by Clayton Folden on a conservation trip from Peru. I think everything comes back to nature so that was there as a reminder of our interconnection to the bigger world as we dare to hope again.
- And what is the message behind it?
The message of the song is about taking a leap of faith to love fearlessly and how ‘Hope’ can be both vulnerable and brave.
- As you creative directed the feature “Hoping” for Earth Day, how and when did the Mude Partnership come to life?
Mude are an incredible vegan, carbon-neutral drinks brand created by The Naked Collective. The timing really fell into place on this project as I begun to ambassador the brand just as we were formulating the release plans for ‘Hoping’. With Earth Day around the corner, it felt like the perfect union to do something positive for the environment together. We brought together all the Mude ambassadors and some special friends to support a fundraiser for non-profit organization, Hoja Nueva. My track was the sound bed for the campaign which featured footage from the Peruvian Amazon and we raised $15, 000 towards rewilding endangered species. I love brands that are committed to living in action, so it was a great first activation combining my passion for music and the environment to work together on.
- You are an ambassador for sustainable fashion, and it has been a hot topic since a while now, do you see any positive changes taking place in the environmental awareness?
I think so much is growing in terms of awareness. Especially in the sustainable fashion space. The next step is really moving the conversation more towards action. We are still over producing and consuming at alarming rates and it’s vital that we reverse that trajectory to protect future generations. Simple steps such as only buying what you need and love can make a real difference and utilizing the power of ‘no’ to single use items from plastics to apparel. Learning more about sustainability and utilizing the power acting on the knowledge you acquire can make a real difference.
- How and why did you choose to use your profile to campaign for the environment and sustainable fashion beyond your music?
It’s very easy to say yes to fast fashion but it didn’t sit right with me once I learnt the truth about it. I feel even as an artist with a growing profile it’s important to know about the brands you advocate for and knowing that fast fashion has such a detrimental impact on the planet, that just not an option for me to be a part of… By saying no to opportunities to work with Fast Fashion retailers, I moved closer to a niche ‘sustainable fashion’ and more opportunities in a direction I believed in opened up. Sustainability has grown so much recently, which is amazing to see and be a part of.
I chose to ambassador Fashion for Conservation and travelled to the Amazon to learn first-hand about conservation. I then came back to London and curated a sustainable runway show at The Natural History Museum with Mother of Pearl and Deborah Milner in collaboration with The Whitley Fund for Nature [WFN]. We supported fundraising for WFN’s grassroots conservation heroes. Sir David Attenborough is a trustee of the organization, so it was an honour to be involved and to hear him talk about his work at the event first-hand. I’ve since gone onto curate segments for UNEP, whilst writing my debut album. I believe in collaboration and circularity, so I think it’s important to champion the people and projects I believe in alongside my music.
- You use your profile as a force for positive environment action, how does your music play a part in this?
I’m incredibly inspired by nature. In my writing you will often find a lot of natural metaphors – for example in ‘Hoping’ there is the lyric: “I’m not sacred, I’m so ready to bloom”. I think music is a great communicator for positive change. As my platform grows, I hope to be able to make greater, more positive impacts on the environment.
- Who are some of your favorite sustainable designers? And why?
There are a lot of designers moving towards slow and sustainable ways of creating. I have recently come to find out about Aqua & Rock, and I’m impressed by their moves in sustainability… I also love Iris Van Herpen who is inspired by nature and as an artist who only creates couture, I find her work incredibly inspiring.
- How would you define sustainability?
I prefer the word regenerative as I think sustainability has become a crowded and confusing word. For me sustainability is quite literally the only way forward – it refers to our own survival, so it’s a way of creating that protects all of our future… More specifically, sustainability is about ensuring each seventeen of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are met and for each of us to do all we can to play our part in achieving them.
The idea of being ‘regeneration’ helps me to frame the idea of ensuring that production only takes what is necessary and restores what it takes – it’s circular and closes the loop rather than exponential, competitive growth structures that are finite. It’s also about ensuring all waste is non-toxic so it can bio-degrade back into nature.
Beyond that regenerative production is best when we can re-create produce into future life cycles. So for example clothes that can be reused, re-loved past our journey with them and eventually the fibers can be regenerated into future items or biodegrade into soil without causing any harm. That’s the goal.
As you can see from my answer, sustainability isn’t one thing, it’s many. It’s a way of re-thinking and acting on a new, green way of thinking. There’s always so much to learn as its’ an evolving space.
- Can you give any suggestions as to what crucial steps we can take towards being more aware of helping to preserving our planet?
I would advocate for everyone to learn more about sustainability by reading up online. Re-connect with nature by spending time outdoors and realise where the products you buy come from… connect the dots right back to the source.
There are great articles available to read now and you can follow EcoAge or Fashion Revolution if you’d like to access information on the subject via instagram.
Share your knowledge and realize the power of your purchase by championing local and sustainable brands – only buy what you need and love.
Find inventive ways with your friends and loved ones to become more sustainable and enjoy the process. For example, organize your own clothes swap – 9/10 you will own an item of clothing that you no longer love but someone else will.
Knowing in every better choice you make, even if you don’t see the difference, you are making a real difference. Every choice counts and the future is ours to create – together we can preserve our planet.
- What changes do you think we as individuals should make?
There are so many changes that we can make… it really is about understanding the supply chain so that we know who makes our produce and that they are treated fairly. There are more straightforward choices like recycling and saying no to single use items. Carrying reusable bags and cups. If you can – volunteer, donate or fundraise towards conservation, that can make a real difference too!
- What are the biggest challenges in releasing new music during a pandemic and how have you overcome those challenges?
The biggest challenges I think are that everything is remote. I signed my single to Tileyard Music via Zoom. Rather than a limitation, I instead feel super fortunate that technology allowed for that to happen… It’s been harder to be in the room with producers creating and I was pretty unwell at the end of last year, so there was a challenge to overcoming that too but I genuinely feel that we are entering a new phase and that phase is going to be positive as we all come back together. I think the great thing with creativity is that it lives inside you so you can do it anywhere as long as you have a quiet corner,, laptop and a mic – you can write. I think the amalgamation of digital and physical realities are incredibly interesting and a huge part of our history and generational evolution.
- We are such social beings, what do you think of future communication through social distancing? Is it something we should just accept?
I think the pandemic has accelerated a new wave of the digital revolution that will mean that more of our work and meetings will be done remotely. I think this will allow for us to spend our time more wisely and more meaningfully and that there will be a boom of special physical events to look forward to. I think the beauty of the human race is that we are very good at adapting, so I think rather than accept, we are learning to adapt.
- Who has been influential to your career and what inspires you?
100% my parents, my first boss at CNN Chris Mansson who really threw me in the deep end (I’m so grateful for that), my partner who is really my biggest champion and my manager, Lisa Wasserstein who is my wing-woman in this magical journey. I’m quite childlike in terms of the fact that everything inspires me. I’m curious and in awe about the world we live in so that beyond my peers inspires me the most. Though Frida Khalo may not be on the planet anymore, she is definitely an inspiration in terms of her progressive art and thinking.
- What would the dream collaboration look and sound like to you?
My dream collaboration would be to work with Chris Martin from Coldplay, Brian Eno, Diplo and / or Labrinth. Possibly not all on the one track! Although that would be a an incredible vibe! I love each of these artist-producers for what they bring energetically to music and I’m not genre specific when it comes to pop. These would be my dream collaborators… What that would look like? Other-worldly!
- What can we look forward to, as we follow your journey, Elle L?
More music is coming very soon in the first instance and some exciting sustainable collaborations on the fashion front!! Stay tuned to my socials (Instragram & Facebook) so I can let you know on what’s coming next
The FAB Team thanks you very much for giving us this opportunity to talk about your new release and your passion towards sustainability.