When I met Elle King for the first time, it was seven in the morning and she had on a black leather jacket on. I wasn’t convinced she had slept the night before, and whiskey was still on her. But the moment she got the guitar in her hands and started singing, it was like a light switch of energy flipped on in the room.
I shouldn’t say this, but when you interview hundreds of bands year after year, you develop a good sense of who is truly authentic and who is playing the part. Elle King is the real deal. I’ll admit it – I’ve been stalking Elle on Instagram ever since I saw her play live that day, watching her quick ascent after the breakout success of “Ex’s and Oh’s.” I was lucky enough to sit down with her at the KFOG studio to catch up on what I’ve missed since we last met, and get an exclusive inside look at her upcoming release. Listen to the full interview below.
No Name: Number one country songs, pop songs…you are one of the few singers that can do it all. What’s that feel like?
Elle King: Back when we were writing “Ex’s and Oh’s,” it feels like it took forever because I was really grinding. And then I was in Europe and when I came back it took off and didn’t stop. It changed our lives.
I’ve seen multiple phases of Elle King. I’ve seen the “rave phase” – where she went on a shopping spree and bought silver boots, glowsticks, hula hoops. Tell me a little about that phase?
EK: I was really trying to get grounded…and find myself (just kidding). I went through a really hard time last year and I was pretty open about it. I felt pretty alone, but you can’t always see what you’re doing. A lot of times it’s like “why isn’t anyone here on my side?” But I pushed everybody away. I moved to California with two instruments and a suitcase. I didn’t want a couch, I just want a bunch of shag rugs, some black lights, some disco lights, and a pinball machine.
I started hula hooping and playing the bass. People can say what they want, but that’s how I got through it. I was like “I’m disco-ing my way through this right now.” I hula-hooped my way through it. I have since moved out the blacklight house and I live in a sweet home-home now. I still have hula-hoops, though.
NN: You picked up the (bass), the banjo…to me, that’s really cool that you’re committed to mastering these instruments.
EK: I think it’s more of a control issue. But also, it’s a challenge. I will obsess. I love bringing new instruments into my arsenal. I enjoy seeing the process and I also enjoy people being real. I can put things out that are glossy, and it would be fine, but that’s not really who I am. Social media can be whatever you make it.
NN: Tell us a little about this new record. My expectations are so high.
EK: I like to say expect nothing and hope for the best! It’s my record, so it’s all over the place. But I have never wanted to choose just one thing. When we first set out, I was like, wow, this could be leaning towards a soul album, or this could be leaning towards a rock album. We made like 30 songs for it. Me just being messed up a little and loosened up my judgment in a lot of ways. I started this new kind of songwriting where I just let things come out and I didn’t judge it. I explored a lot of different things, and my band was very supportive in that. It’s definitely different from the first record, but I am the thread.
Check out Elle King’s latest single “Shame,” out now everywhere.