The old pop song goes that some things hurt much more than ‘Cars and Girls’. You can be certain that with her new EP, Be Yourself Music singer-songwriter Elle Hollis will inject a little sweetness and sunshine, as well as matters of the heart, in determining the importance of ‘Guys & Cars’.
Music has always been her be all and end all (“I’m always thinking of music and I hear it day and night”, confirms Elle: “it never stops and can sometimes even be quite annoying because I cannot turn it off!”), ‘Guys & Cars’ converts demos and ideas into pop and dancefloor gold. “It wasn’t until last summer that I really felt like I was starting to see a pattern in my writing. When I wrote ‘Guys & Cars’, I simply knew that that was the one that tied it all together. It closed a chapter of certain relationships and feelings I had towards people during the past two to three years. I then knew that was going to be it, my first EP was going to be called ‘Guys & Cars’”.
Elle has earned comparisons with prestige pop queens Astrid S, Tove Lo, Zara Larsson and Dua Lipa, while influenced by the eclectic performance of John Mayer, Bon Iver (“I feel like my life would be complete if a collaboration would ever happen”), Mads Langer, Ludovico Einaudi, Drake and Coldplay. Aware of the advances she’s made and continues to make, Elle now knows that destiny is in her own hands. “For example, (2017’s) ‘Every Day Every Night’ was the first poppy song I made and released and I can definitely see that I’ve progressed since then. I’m still proud of that era because I was very young and that song got me signed. But I’m a lot more critical of productions now and feel way more comfortable with what I make. Back then I was very influenced by what people around me thought of me – now I worry about this a lot less”.
On ‘Guys & Cars’ and ‘Think About Me Still’, summer days are painted with instant pop appeal as Elle understands how to achieve chart pull without leaving emotional value behind. A quick run through her back catalogue reveals covers of 10CC’s ‘I’m Not In Love’, and acoustic alternatives to her more dancefloor-ready tracks unveil a different, flexible side to her art. “I love working on pop songs, but I’m only convinced a song is good if you’re able to play it stripped down acoustically and it doesn’t lose its essence. I also think it’s important to show people different interpretations of songs. ‘Running Out of Love’ for instance, that’s a very poppy dance song. But the lyrics aren’t just happy and fun but emotional as well. That becomes a lot clearer when you hear the acoustic version and people can then choose whatever version resonates more”.
“Emotions do play a big part in all of my songs”, Elle continues. “I’m a very sensitive and emotional person in general so I cannot let that go in my writing and composing. Even though some songs might sound happy with simple lyrics, the thoughts behind those lyrics often go a lot deeper”.
It’s this going deeper that make Elle more intricate than those in her lane. Her focus means she has no time for worrying about other peoples’ opinions (“no one goes to bed thinking about and judging whatever I do with my life, because I don’t do that either”). The summery nature of ‘Guys & Cars’ and ‘Think About Me Still’ are a direct reflection of its creator (“I’m not a winter person – the lack of daylight and sunshine influences my mood a lot”). And for as much as these tracks are relaxed and easygoing, she admits “on the inside I can be the opposite and overthink every little aspect of my life”.
These different angles to her temperament mean her creative methods are just as multidimensional. “My process is quite different every time. Sometimes I’m in the shower and write an entire song and I can just hear the music in my head. Then I get out and play it on the piano and then that’s it, I have a song. Other times I just play the piano until the chords make me feel a certain way and a single sentence will pop into my mind. Then I’ll work it out from there. I never start writing knowing what I’m going to write about. I often feel like the words and sentences are just floating around in my head and will naturally fit the melodies I come up with”.
Like the majority of musicians and artists, this is in addition to COVID-enforced restrictions that have meant adjusting creativity and energy, particularly when live audiences remain out of reach. “I have to admit that being in my twenties with the usual quarter-life crisis in combination with a global pandemic did force me to find out who I actually am without all of this. Trying to figure that out has made me dive deeper in my writing and work in music in general. I was very much used to being able to go to studios and work there: now that we basically do everything from home, it’s become a challenge to find inspiration.”
Thankfully the new normal now sits well with Elle. “I notice that I’m very much in my own world and write a lot more freely, says Elle, and that world revolves around ‘Guys & Cars’. “Releasing this EP feels like releasing a little piece of my heart with it and I hope it’s the first of many more”.
Get the ‘Guys & Cars EP’ here