Ellinor Olovsdotter, known by her stage name as “Elliphant”, is a pop artist from Stockholm. Her voice was discovered in 2011 at a Paris party by producer Tim Denéve from the Swedish producer-duo Jungle. She is signed with Mad Decent and her new EP “One More” is out now via TEN Music Group in collaboration with Kimosabe Records.
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Karen Marie Ørsted, or MØ, is a singer-songwriter from Denmark. She is signed to Sony Music Entertainment and has collaborated with artists such as Elliphant, Avicii, and Iggy Azalea.
Stage name of British electro-pop singer Charlotte Emma Aitchison, who wrote the 2012 hit “I Love It” sung by Icona Pop and is featured on “Fancy” with Iggy Azalea. Charli XCX has produced two studio albums, You’re the One (2012) and the upcoming Sucker (2014).
In a time when people look to the newest Disney prodigy, big ass or backwoods YouTube sensation to become the next pop icon, how refreshing to watch a 29-year-old from Sweden begin a relevant pop conversation of her own. Known by her stage name “Elliphant,” Ellinor Olovsdotter has been working steadily for the past three years with talent connoisseurs such as Dr. Luke, Cirkut, Joel Little and collaborators including Skrillex and MØ. The release of her “One More” EP in October marked Elliphant’s U.S. breakthrough, earning her respect and interest from other artists in LA, including Charli XCX with whom she is currently on tour.
Working with directors such as Tim Erem and Sebastian Reed, Elliphant’s music videos alone suffice to suck you into her world. Katy Perry called “Down On Life”, “One of the most bad ass music videos I’ve seen in a long time!” via Twitter. Costuming is arguably the baddest component—most notably in “Revolusion”. Helmed by StyleWar director Oskar Holmedal, the video layers plenty of red fringe, lamé, and knit bodysuits, à la Forcefield. Olovsdotter had a heavy hand in the wardrobe for her newest music video “One More” featuring Danish artist MØ. The pair night cruises inside a taxi wearing adidas tracksuits, LED slip-ons, and geisha hairdos.
Humble, a self-proclaimed amateur and sick of fashion, Elli, as her friends know her, seems to contrast all her pop precursors in one way or another. She speaks in a sort of pidgin scattered with slang (refer to her Instagram captions) and is incredibly thoughtful and candid about her life. Wedged between a concrete block wall and a parked car, she spoke about ADD, drugs, life as a restaurant employee, and the music she “burns for.”
Alyson Luthi: Where did you grow up and what was it like?
Ellinor Olovsdotter: I grew up in Sweden in a very typical Stockholm situation — single mom, kids with different fathers. My childhood was full of friends and bicycling and being outside. We were never at home. My mom was a party animal and owned some restaurants, so I was like the kid that grew up on a restaurant floor.
AL: What was your high school experience?
EO: There really wasn’t one. I finished school when I was 14. School was always very messy for me. When I was 18, I was diagnosed with dyslexia, ADD, and concentration issues. For me, being in school was like an experimental failure. I think I’m still processing that a lot as an artist.
After school, I started in the restaurant business because my mom knew so many people. I began traveling when I was 17 until I was 23. Then I met someone so I stayed in Sweden. My only real experience of Sweden were those four years with my boyfriend. I stayed in Sweden until this happened.
AL: What was your first experience creating music?
EO: When I got my first Macintosh and opened up GarageBand—it was like a computer game. I was building songs, but at a very amateur level. I still look at myself as an amateur. Music was never in my plan for life. It just turned into a really, really effective expression, and that’s why I use it. I burn so much for it now.
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Born Albert Johnson, Prodigy is an American rapper and member of hip-hop duo Mobb Deep. His signature monotone voice is recognizable throughout the past 20 years of hip-hop. Prodigy has been on 50 Cent’s label G-Unit and has collaborated with artists such as LL Cool J, Curren$y, Wiz Khalifa, and T.I.
My mom was a hobby musician. She had a band and played music constantly while I was growing up. Everything from Frank Zappa to David Bowie to Prodigy. I think because I had been overfed with music as a child, I got out of it when I traveled. I was never like, “I need this song!” or “I have to go to this concert!” I’m very aware of what is good music and what is not, but I don’t have a particular idol or a genre where I feel like an expert.
AL: That shows in your music because you explore so many genres.
EO: And that’s how it’s going to be. It’s not a “smart” way of doing things because one of the first lessons you learn is to keep your product clear and make sure people know what they get. Like McDonalds and H&M and fucking Mac.
AL: But it keeps you interested.
EO: Yes, that is the thing. I’m going against all those moves by not having “a sound.” In the future it would be fun to make an EP of songs that clearly go together. But for now, I’m not putting myself in a box. This is what I want to represent: a changeable personality.
“one of the first lessons you learn in music
is to keep your product clear and
make sure people know what they get.
Like McDonalds and H&M and fucking Mac.”
AL: Would you say your music is a natural extension of yourself?
EO: Music just happens. I rarely have a clear idea for a full song. Usually I write down small things I think are interesting on my phone and take it up when I’m in the studio. It’s like going into a soccer game. “We need to get the goal, we need to work this out.” I can’t sit with an instrument and build a melody like others do. For me it’s a challenge every time. I like the vibe.
I’m not amazing at choosing the best beats or hooky melodies like the people I work with who have been doing this for years. They’ll be like, “This is really good. It’s really hooky.” And I don’t understand. But then after a while, I do. I learn so much all the time. I’m in something I never thought I would do, and I never thought I would be, so I’m very humbled. Even if it’s my fans putting up cool pictures on Instagram, I share everything. I’m so excited about everybody that is involved or even has an interest in my project. If you like Elliphant, you are naturally a part of my heart.
I understand it’s not for everybody. There’s a certain group of people that will always think I’m very annoying. To some, a girl that is almost 30 years old, not super pretty, doesn’t know what the fuck she’s doing but is actually having something—it’s like fucking ashes in the eyes. Some people are really annoyed that I’m not a musician, especially that I didn’t have a dream about it. But I represent the fact that everything can change from day to day. This is what happens in my life now, and everybody can change their life by doing new things.