Elkkle | FReeZA Artist of the Month | Youth Central

Photo of Elkkle set on a black background.
Photo of Elkkle set on a black background.

Melbourne producer/artist Elkkle is a self-proclaimed beat making loner who is unapologetically passionate about music.

When did you start producing, and where did it go from there?

I first got my hands on Ableton Live and a Korg padKontrol around the beginning of 2011.

Initially I was making some pretty mediocre ambient music. It was like a combination of every producers early ambient attempts, and old, bombastic Animal Collective records. I've never been formally taught anything except guitar, so it took a really long time to come up with chords on a midi keyboard. I still struggle but I think in turn I tend to put so much emphasis on the non-tonal aspects of production. That side comes quite naturally now and is a little more conducive to trial and error than using keys. Eventually I started singing and then when a couple months after Frank Oceans Blond came out, I was super inspired to take singing seriously.

What is your process when you’re writing and producing, and how did you develop it?

It's hard to pin the process down to something concrete. It's just usually a frenzy of ideas coming together very quickly. During this stage I move around a lot as I like to dance along to the beat as I improvise vocals. My movement can then inform the feel of the lyrics and melodies, and I ask myself, "what creature walks like I dance, what creature cries like I dance”, and then embody that creature. That's something I've always associated with my music; this sense that there is something alive underneath, lurking in the shadows of a song. Then there's months of reflection before saying, "You know what? It's done".

How did you find your sound?

I don’t think you really 'find' your sound. You kind of just stop questioning yourself one day, and have faith that you can sit down to write and express yourself clearly. Obviously there is sense to be made of an artist’s tendencies and tastes, but that's an external perception that doesn't inform the creative process, at least not for me.

How and when did you decide you wanted to make a career out of music?

I don't really know... I'd seen a friend of mine, some years older, make beautiful records and gain traction in the Australian music community all on his own. I was so fascinated by the idea of the “producer" or "beat-maker”, and I just happened to be giving it a go when the future came along and high-school finished. I got into VCA on songs I'd created in the time since I began using Ableton Live. It was a brand new bachelors  being offered that focused on music composition across all media art forms. It was an incredible experience. I met amazing people and discovered a whole other world of music through them. I was just always hungry for more.

What have been your challenges and successes?

I've always made it my business to be very self aware of the kinks and quirks in my brain-stuff. The thought of being misunderstood terrifies me to the point of holding myself back sometimes. The further you go with music, the less it becomes a question of "can I do this music thing", but rather "how do I frame what I seek to convey in a way that will be appreciated and understood”. Confidence can look attractive or repulsive on you depending on how well you empathize with your environment. So my confidence was very quiet for a long time while I looked to those around me to try piece together where I wanted to be.

Getting to where I am as an artist on making my own decisions and building my own network independently is something I'm proud of. Of course that will change down the way. I want a team of people, pooling resources and knowledge, and that itself will be an achievement.

Who have you been working with?

This year has been heaps of fun for collaborations. I've been working with locals I meet through shows who I admire purely for the fact their head is screwed on right. Shouts to the very talented Moses Carr, Thommy Wilson and Aphir. I've been continuing my collaboration work with Woodes and Golden Vessel. There's a few more things lined up with other artists that I probably shouldn't jump the gun on mentioning just yet, but there is some cool stuff coming. I've [also] been continuing work with my friend and close collaborator Rex Kane-Hart, in making the visual elements for elkkle which are only going to become more important to the project as we roll them out.

Do you have a support network?

I'm extremely lucky that I have some incredible people helping me find my way. I consider most of the people I just mentioned above my closest friends. They mentor me, keep my head straight, and tell me the things I need to hear to keep going. The music community in Melbourne is incredibly kind.

How do you get your music from your bedroom to studio, and how do you bring it to listeners?

Well to be square with you, Diderot never really left the bedrooms, the home set ups. On all my releases I work with a good friend, Mitchell Waters for the final stages of mixing/mastering and in the past we've worked out of studios at our universities.

You’ve worked with Golden Vessel and Mallrat on a new track Shoulders, what was that like and what’s it like working with other artists?

Max (Golden Vessel) and I get along really well, both musically and personally. I find writing with Max is really relaxed and easy to find a flow. He never overthinks anything, and has a crazy knack for beats that are easy going, but still pack in a groove that's super engaging and infectious. In a lot of aspects we're complete opposites as musicians, but that allows us to combine all our different strengths.

I'd been wanting to work with Mallrat after hearing an unreleased demo that a friend had worked on with her. It's still one of my favourite songs. We worked remotely on her verse, but had some good talks about where the track was going and how she could build on the narrative. What she came back with blew me away - it just blended perfectly with Max and I's vision. I find working with every artist is different. Collaboration is about learning. Whenever I come out of a solid session with a new collaborator, something feels different when I go to write on my own again. Every decision an artist makes when writing a song has a whole lifetime of musical experience behind it. I find it so fascinating; seeing what range they write melodies in, what rhythms they gravitate towards, what part of the track they start with, etc.

Where do you see electronic music going in the future?

I actually don't have a clue, and to be honest I don't really want one. Electronic music is a constantly evolving force, much like the industry itself, and I think more than ever the two really do have an impact on the other.

Spotify increasingly encourages artists to release singles and EP's, so we're seeing a lot of smaller or independent artists really focus on that format and try to cut through. As for what it will sound like in the future?….that's the most exciting part to be left unknown.

Who and what music inspires and influences your music?

So many different artists inspire me and motivate me in different ways. Frank Ocean pulled me back into writing lyrically focused music, and Arca taught me to feel something before understanding it. He also taught me how important it is to be yourself and put everything you've got into the music first. Don’t think about what your audience might think until the music is out of your hands.

My approach to live shows is very much inspired by Radiohead - specifically their Glastonbury 2003 performance on 'Fake Plastic Trees'. I try to make every song I perform hit that level of energy and tension/release, and leave the audience feeling like I feel when I watch that performance.

Whats it like playing live as a producer and how do you create your sets?

It can be daunting. Since my music is so busy, there's a lot of stuff I cannot even attempt to control in a live setting. So a lot of the time I'm putting in stems and instrumentals straight out of the original session files. This makes it really important for when I'm turning knobs and sliders that I'm actually doing something to shape the songs into something new for the audience. Lately however I’ve been stepping away from the midi controllers and effects to focus on giving an engaging vocal performance and stage presence.

Where can people find out about your upcoming gigs and tunes?

I'm on all the socials and important announcements are shared across all of them. But Instagram and Twitter is where it's at for catching previews of new work and general updates.

Anything else you’d like to add for readers?

Show love in the wake of change, and change will love you back.