scandi singer elliphant says there's no time to be fake
Ellinor Olovsdotter, aka Elliphant, is backlit by a glowing Los Angeles sun, conjuring the image of a tribal goddess from another realm. "So many people aren't aware of the magic in life," she says in her deep, smoky Swedish accent. "We may think we're in this new liberated world, away from rules, but we're still following old dogma. We still have people saying, 'No, the trees don't speak', or 'No, there are no aliens'. It's the normal thing to do: to be against magic, and to go against nature."
It's clear from the start that Eli is a singer/rapper/activist on her own path. Though humble and grounded, she's a one-woman powerhouse, unleashing a stream of passionate, fiery philosophies with every breath. In person, Elli's the embodiment of the mind-bending video for her dancehall throttler Revolusion: magnetic, colourful and an untamed explosion of energy. "Music is still new to me," the 29-year-old admits. Though her forays into music fell into place unintentionally, in the space of the last two years, she has released an album on Universal, dropped EPs with Mad Decent and Kemosabe Records (Look Like You Love It and One More), and worked closely with super-producers Dr. Luke, Diplo and Skrillex. She's collaborated with ragga/soca legend Bunji Garlin alongside underground starlettes MØ and Doja Cat, and she's equally comfortable on tour with pop wunderkind Charli XCX as she is touring solo with only a dubstep soundsystem.
"Since this project started," Elli continues, "it's been a storm, so there was no time to be fake, there was no time to figure shit out. I can be free and do whatever kind of music I want, and work with whomever I want. Some people want me to be like M.I.A., or Iggy Azalea, someone they can put in a box, but my sound could be 80s ballads, or songs with a piano, there's some fucking hardcore club stuff too and super hardcore pop. Some tracks are more guitar, real drums, a little bit hippie, then I also have my hip hop spirit."
Having travelled the globe since she was a teenager, even journeying to India eight times, it's little wonder that Eli's sound is so expansive. Finding herself, "through raves and the techno world", her voice takes on rhythms, slang and melodies that can't quite be pegged. "As an artist, I'm not looking to be something, I'm just expressing myself and living in the moment. I want to represent a changeable person."
Tucked up in the hills of LA, a set of wind chimes peel as she overlooks a vast view of the city. "Two years ago, if someone said I was going to be based in America, I would've laughed! I grew up in the south of Stockholm, with crazy people around me. My mum was this music party girl. So I always feel very home-ish when I'm in those situations; I feel very in control when I'm in chaos. But I don't really have a home - my home is actually only me. I try to look for it on the inside." Elliphant's here to bring the magic.
Text Danna Takako
Photography Columbine Goldsmith
Styling Nicolas Klam
Hair Ryan Richman at Starworks using KMS California.
Make-up Tsipporah Liebman using M.A.C.