An Interview with: ELLE
1) How did Elle form?
(Sean) Three of us played in Beau Navire together (myself, Trei and Kris). BN’s bass player Jon moved to Seattle and BN sort of slowly dissolved. After maybe 2 years of us all focusing on other things, Kris and Trei started working on music together again. At some point they called me and Brian in. In the meantime, Kris and I had worked on a project called Foreign Only, and we had played with Brian on bass a couple times. There was a lot of chemistry there, but the band got kind of sidelined because we were so busy with other bands and just boring adult life bs. So when Trei and Kris were looking to fill the lineup out, Brian and I stepped in and it all felt really natural and satisfying basically from day one.
Kris moved to Norway last year, and our fellow Californian and good friend Taylor started playing drums for us. Now we are the luckiest band in the world because we have 2 amazing drummers.
2) Why the name, ELLE? And why was your last album titled "She"?
(Sean) I had the word elle floating around as something I liked and wanted to use for something, for a long time. I like its visual symmetry, I’m pretty into typography and have a weird affinity for words and just keep lists of words I like, usually for writing lyrics (though to be clear I haven’t written any of the lyrics for elle). As far as a name for a punk band, I guess I like elle for its lack of masculine feeling. It just seemed appropriate, for me a lot of heavy music comes across very macho, which I’ve always inherently wanted to avoid and found unrelatable. It’s not really meant to talk about gender, I see these masculine/feminine descriptors as human’s way of giving a name/tangibility to totally intangible ways of being that have nothing to do with “gender”. Probably most importantly though, it was a name we could all agree on (the hardest part about naming a band democratically).
Elle is the French word for “she”. When we chose elle as a band name we talked about using elle and she interchangeably, basically having 2 band names, a cool ambiguity, and both are simply words that we like. So calling our first LP “she” was a way of having a self titled record, plus it’s a cool word. We are starting our own record imprint called “she” as well.
3) Considering many of you come from notable bands in screamy hardcore, what was it like creating new music in this band compared to your older bands?
(Sean) For me, I felt like the basis was trying to do something with more sonic clarity, and maybe a wider emotional range than just anger/sadness. I mean, the anger is definitely still there, but the lyrics and melodies touch on a lot more subtleties, and I think cover a much more full spectrum than I’m used to, which feels like a real success.
(Brian) My previous bands, with the exception of Yearbooks, have all been much heavier and pretty different style-wise. But I’ve always loved these dudes just as friends so joining a band with them was a no-brainer. On our first two releasing I just kind of sat back and let Trei, Sean, and Kris handle most of writing. I had a little input but not much at all. On this release I got a lot more involved and definitely did a little more writing. It was nerve wracking because I wasn’t sure how it would be received by everyone but these dudes were very sweet and receptive to it. In terms of style this is easily the most comfortable I’ve been with my parts on the release and the whole thing feels very coherent.
(Trei) Playing with Sean and Kris always has felt rather fluid. I was really looking forward to seeing how we’ve matured and what sound would come out of us jamming a few years after BN dissolved.
4) What were your influences on the 5-song EP? Have they changed much since?
(Taylor) I love Suis La Lune and Suffix and Kidcrash and Lord Snow so much; I’d say those are my main influences with anything I’m writing these days.
(Trei) Hmm hard to think back to what I was jamming then. To be honest I’ve been jamming a lot of instrumental or soundscape style stuff more recently. Toe, Jonsi and Alex, Heaven in Her Arms.
5) Tell us about the new LP. Why the title, track names? Is there a theme? What was recording it compared to your previous endeavors?
(Brian) Trei did most of the lyrics and title names. I did the lyrics and title for Dust. That song is about the anxiety of growing up and longing for ignorance of childhood. The title and theme came from this artist William Basinski who creates these audio loops. One day he was converting old loops he had on tape to a digital format so he had to just let the tapes play out while they were converting. He came back some time later and heard that the loops had changed and sounded distorted and disintegrated. He realized it was literally the audio falling off the tape. Audio on tape is quite literally dust, or iron oxide, glued on, and over time it loses its hold. I thought the whole thing was a beautiful metaphor for life.
(Trei) I think the name is fitting “Ellipsis” or … it’s all about the in between. Beneath the skin and bone there’s all these thoughts, feelings and emotions. Just like in language and writing, people are always giving off subtle physical clues about their real state of mind, or intentions. It’s really hard but it’s important to look deeper to better understand and support one another. Recording this record was amazing, I think we’ve really dialed in our tone and were lucky enough to record with Jack Shirley again. He’s got an amazing studio and personally this is one of the coolest sounding records I feel like I’ve gotten the chance to play on.
6) What was your tour with Joliette, Nuvolascura and Senza like?
(Taylor) Rewarding moments were met with very real trial and both consistently. I felt a special energy playing sets at Zegema Beach Records fest.
(Brian) Touring with those bands was amazing. I had never met Senza so that was cool. Obviously we love Taylor, and had played shows with Nuvo before, but it was a great opportunity to really get to know them and connect. And Joliette. Enough cannot he said about their music and their live performances, but none of that compares to how beautiful they are as people. Shout out to Azael. Him and I made a real connection on that tour and I love that dude so much.
(Trei) So much fun, great laughs, great people!
7) What touring plans do you have coming up?
(Brian) We have some stuff in the works right now, but nothing we can officially announce. But I would expect to see some release shows for the record, and then see us leave the left coast.
8) What bands have released things this year that you've been stoked on?
(Taylor) Lord Snow, Frail Hands, New Ruins, Chamber, 60659-c, .gif from god, Vein, Senza, Joliette.
(Brian) Joliette is obviously amazing. The new Drei Affen is ridiculously good. The self titled by Ashes to Ashes from Moscow rips. Le Culte Des Bourreaux by Potence is amazing.
(Trei) Nuvolascura, Better Oblivion Community Center, Lord Snow.
9) What's next for ELLE?
(Brian) More shows, more touring. We have a split in the works that we are beyond excited about.
10) Any thoughts on the current U.S./world climate, in any capacity?
(Taylor) Fuck borders.
(Brian) It’s a very scary time. It’s very important to speak up and take action, be a positive force, and hold true to your beliefs. But it’s also just as important to know when to shut the fuck up and listen. We need to be there for each other, be strong for those who can’t be, and be careful not to take platforms away from those who need it most.