Elle Watson creates deeply atmospheric, R&B-infused pop gems that are lavishly layered with intergalactic melodies and sounds. We caught up with her to find out what it was like working with Glass Animals' Dave Bayley and how living in Sevenoaks had a surprising impact on her.
Elle Watson's new track "Pressure" is a sophisticated and atmospheric venture into her incredibly ambitious brand of pop that seems to slip through different genres, moods and galaxies in one fell swoop. It is stylised and immersive and has a way of capturing your imagination, as Watson's vocals freely float in heavenly motion above the layers of glorious synths and understated beats.
The impact of the track is only heightened by the super-stylised visuals that accompany it, drawing you in with its kaleidoscope of lights and smokey cinematic atmosphere. Watson is creating another world of her own volition, where the rules are bent and reconfigured to create something that is wholly intriguing and refreshingly original.
"Pressure" is taken from Watson's upcoming debut EP entitled Clinchers, a collection of songs that she wrote alongside super producer Paul Epworth and Glass Animals' Dave Bayley. It further marks out Watson as a rising talent who is only going from strength to strength. We caught up to find out more about how the EP was written and the freedom of her creative process.
BEST FIT: There are all kinds of influences running through "Pressure" - R&B, psychedelic guitars, pop - what were you listening to when you wrote it?
WATSON: I’m not entirely sure but Cashmere Cat rings a bell. However I do clearly remember Dave and I wanted it to sound like Lauryn Hill smoking a spliff on a beach on a planet in another dimension.
How did the track first come into being and what was the initial spark that got you writing it?
I remember listening to the beat with Paul and Dave late at night and just free-styling over it straight into my phone. I wanted to keep the melody as free and natural as possible so that first original freestyle is melody we went with. I still have the recording somewhere.
Your new video for "Pressure" is visually stunning - what was the original idea and brief behind it?
Thanks! Lights were a really important element in mine and Tash’s initial discussion. The use of a car was crucial, its symbolic to being a passenger on someone else’s journey. I also had a personal connection to the car as it directly represents events that took place causing the inspiration for the track. I guess we wanted to mirror the idea of two people travelling down a path together, yet their minds are totally disconnected.
Is there a particular song on your new EP that you're particularly proud of? And which was the most challenging to bring together?
I’m proud of all of them in their own unique way, however I think 'Lost' is the one that I have the closest connection to. I wrote, recorded and produced it myself on a lonely day in the studio. Its a very simple song, but its the most honest and vulnerable song I’ve written. I’m particularly proud of my vocal production too. The most challenging was definitely Pressure! We wrote it so long ago and it wasn’t quite right for some time, so finishing it took some persistence and will power.
The EP as a whole feels very much like a continuous body of work - was this an important factor for you?
To be honest I didn’t really think about it. I’ve been lucky to have freedom in my creative process, and it just so happens that these particular tracks flowed nicely together. It’s a blessing to be in a position where I can share experiences through different styles and not overthink things too much.
What has it been like working with Paul Epworth? In what ways did his input challenge you creatively?
I’ve worked with Paul since I was 15 years old, and he’s always had a knack for throwing me into the deep end. He has a tendency to flip things 180 which was really challenging for me at first. Things like slowing the track to half time or taking out the beat in the chorus. I’d get stuck inside my head and think ‘no no no that’s not conventional’ or ‘I love how it is, I don’t wanna change it’ and he’d just ask me to trust him. Obviously he is right. He’s taught me to ‘be weird’ and not overthink things, as long as it makes you feel something.
How did Glass Animals' Dave Bayley come to get involved on production duty?
Glass Animals are signed to Wolf Tone too so it was a pretty natural progression. Dave is an incredibly talented producer who I’ve worked with previously on a track called Phantom, so we decided to work with each other again on this.
Growing up you moved around a lot and lived in a lot of different cities - do you think this has had an influence on how you make music? If so, was there any place you lived that had more of an impact than the others?
Potentially, its not something I’ve ever thought of. It’s by far the least exotic place I’ve lived, but I think that living in Sevenoaks (Kent) had the most impact on me as a person. I felt incredibly sheltered and trapped by the general ‘Sevenoaks attitude’, I was bursting at the seams and desperate to get out. I suppose that’s had a direct effect on my subject matters when I write.
Is there anywhere in the world that you particularly want to live in now? What would be the dream destination?
I’m desperate to go to Tokyo! I really do love living in London now, however I would love to go back to New York and live there at some point in the future.
What are you most excited about this year?