Creative Review New Music
Feisty and fabulous electro-clash heroine Elle Exxe unleashes her much-anticipated debut album Love Fuelled Hate on October 7th, mixed by Joe Kearns (Ellie Goulding, Little Mix, One Direction) and mastered by John Davis (Lana Del Rey, U2, Bat For Lashes).
It sees Elle blossom into a major pop contender after the fast-rising starlet first turned heads with her kicking-and-screaming 2015 debut EP Love To Hate You, which was a riotous explosion of her fearsomely unique attitude and striking pop-shock style. On Love Fuelled Hate she’s now spread her wings into a formidable and fully fledged pop star, flipping the genre on its head.
In fact, it’s safe to say that Elle Exxe doesn’t make cookie-cutter pop music. Her sound is bolstered by big beats and formed with filthy bass and grit-ridden guitars with Elle Exxe’s fierce vocal, smothered with sass. She calls it “dirty pop” or “pop with attitude”, dependent on the day.
From almost foetal murmurs, music has always been the pulsating, glittering heart of Elle Exxe. Growing up in Edinburgh, she was performing in public piano competitions by the age of six, encouraged by her doting grandmother who bought Elle her first microphone and would sing her to sleep.
Tragically when Elle hit seven her grandmother passed away, with an effect that rippled through Elle. Evenings of hearing her grandmother’s voice sing her to sleep were replaced with dreams of projecting her own voice.
“My grandmother sang to me every Sunday night,” she reminisces. “When you lose something you have to fill it with something, and for me it was this dream of being a musician. There’s never been anything else. I doubt there ever will be.”
By 15 Elle’s dreams were beginning to be realised. She bravely busked on the streets of her hometown and finally her talents were recognised when she was invited to perform nightly in her local church during Edinburgh’s famous Fringe Festival.
“It gave me the outlet to tell people that singing was actually what I was serious about,” she recalls. “That’s when I convinced my parents that I should drop out of school and pursue it seriously.”
Following this Elle joined the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, which meant leaving her family, moving down south and calling a YMCA home for a year.
Songwriting had always come naturally to Elle, but initially she didn’t quite know what kind of music she wanted to make. “I started out doing singer-songwriter stuff but I didn’t like it,” she recalls. “Everyone in the audience would be crying, I would feel like crying, and I was just like, ‘This isn’t how I want to carry on.’ It just didn’t work for me.”
During her second term at the Academy, Elle studied heavy rock music and felt as though she’d found her groove. “Getting to rock out on stage and dance like a lunatic, I realised that’s what I really wanted to do. So at that point I consciously changed my direction and introduced a band to my music,” she explains.
However it wasn’t until a songwriting trip to Los Angeles that Elle’s dirty-pop style was born. Upon returning from L.A. she ditched her piano and put posters up all over London hunting for musicians to form a band to support her new style.
With well over 100 applicants, Elle held three days of intensive auditions to select musicians of the very highest calibre to form her band. You can now see her chosen members, renamed ExXterminators, at Elle’s popular ExXtravaganZza events held monthly in London.
The band don glowing white pop-art inspired outfits, designed by Elle, and represent her high-octane artistic vision. This vision extends to Elle Exxe’s debut album Love Fuelled Hate, the 14-track album inspired by Elle’s obsession with opposites and contradiction, love and hate.
Musically, Love Fuelled Hate delivers huge pop hooks as it bounces from the bluesy anthem ‘Lately’ to the rock stomp of ‘Lost In L.A.’, the latter produced by formidable pop force John Castelli (Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Beyonce)
Elsewhere Elle is found stripped bare and intimate as with the shimmering electro ballad ‘White Lies’ and the swooning charmer ‘Home With You’. Lyrically, it tells the story of an intense love affair that burns brightly – as found on the shimmering a capella betrothal of ‘I Do’ – then crashes hard, very hard, before ending with some form of mutual understanding in the tripped out stomp of ‘I Understand’.
“In nearly all of my relationships I’ve been cheated on, so I’ve got quite a lot of darkness in my relationship history and that definitely comes out in the album!” Elle says with a smile. “I guess the album is showing people some kind of perfect love and then saying, ‘But if you don’t take care of the person you love, and you betray them, then you create a monster.’ I included the song ‘I Understand’ to make sure the album ends with some kind of forgiveness. I think it’s important to understand where people are coming from when they lose their mind and do crazy things.”
“I do hope it might help some people who are having emotional struggles, and I do hope it might form a community of people who support each other,” she continues. “That’s one of my long-term goals: to help create a community of people who actively care for each other and listen to each other when they’re going through personal shit.”
In fact, these kind of connections are already beginning to form. “Someone just contacted me to ask what they could wear to my gigs,” Elle says. “It wasn’t for them – it was for their friend who’s a cross-dresser who wanted me to help pick an outfits for them. So maybe that’s a group of people – creative and colourful, not afraid of being different – that my music appeals to.”
Elle Exxe has a host of critical acclaim and a rabid international fanbase building behind her, which has seen her recently play a number of shows in America and South Korea, and will see her perform at the Unsigned Music Awards in London later this year.
She’s made a big impact in the UK and has played sold out shows across the capital and her Scottish homeland. She topped 2015 with the biggest headline show of her career at London’s KOKO as part of Club NME.
Elle’s also been a major part of festivals and has played a number of shows a Canadian Music Week, The Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City alongside the upcoming shows at Zandari Festival in Seoul.
With her profile building across the globe, it won’t be long until Elle Exxe is recognised as one of the most irresistible and creative new stars today.