Electronic, Psychedelic, Acoustic…Introducing, Elsa Hewitt
“It’s so easy to look at other people’s success and compare yourself to them, or think about how far you still have to go, but you need to remember that everybody has to carve out their own path. In music, there’s no single way of doing it.”
Photography By David Coleman
Elsa Hewitt is a British electronic singer and songwriter, previous Lynsey de Paul Prize winner, and this month’s Concrete Kïn inspiration. Originally from Sussex and now living in South London, Elsa’s sound has developed from raw teenage grunge, to her very own unique mix of synthesised sound and intricate percussion. Listening to her music means you never hear the same thing twice, it evolves within the listener and we couldn’t wait to find out more. We explore Elsa following in her performer mother’s footsteps, and hear some pretty poignant advice about becoming an emerging artist…
Ok, firstly what’s coming up in 2020 for Elsa Hewitt?
EH - Firstly, I’m hoping for Citrus Partadisi to be release on vinyl, which should be great. And then, the plan is to finish my new album which I’m excited about! Should be a tour over the summer as well, London, Brighton and hopefully a few cities around the whole the country and in Europe as well. You’ll see..We’ll see.!
Is this latest album taking a different direction from your previous work?
EH - I feel like it’s a step on again from everything that I’ve done so far on the electronic side, I’ve been using a lot of new plug-ins that I hadn’t been using before and I had been keeping it quite simple in a way, quite analogue and basic with the last album. This one’s got different instrumentation, and different plug ins and synths that generally sound really phat! Haha. I just feel like the production is another step on so the sound just keeps seeming to develop each time and I keep expecting it to reach a pinnacle, but it doesn’t it just keeps moving further along! I made an effort to do more singing in this one as well, while still trying to keep a balance between ambient beats and singing.
Looking at your releases over the past few years, what are your favourite tracks and why?
Invisible Threads, because it’s got a good simplicity and it’s quite different from most of my other tracks. It’s incredibly stripped back and it was really quick to make.
How long was the process?
EH - Well I was making loads of other tracks that I just decided I didn’t like them and I had a deadline that I was sticking to, so I just made it in a few days from start to finish. So yeah, felt pretty proud of myself after doing that one.
CK - That’s one of my favourite, you can tell that it could have been almost been something else, but you stripped it back instead. The vocals cut through and the layering is strong. Just shows you that you don’t need weeks on end to create something amazing. Sits outside of your usual sound, it takes great confidence to release that.
EH - Yeah it has so much impact for something so simple! Second track Per Aspera Ad Astra for the completely opposite reason which is because it was really difficult to finish! I ended up re-thinking the structure completely, it’s kind of an out of the box idea, turning it inside out structurally and trying so many options, there were certain sounds that were really good, and it takes a long time but when you finally find something that works really well it’s really rewarding
Are there any artists that have helped you carve out your unique sound?
EH - There’s no one that I’ve followed and thought I’m going to do what you do, my approach is discovering and inventing stuff it’s because I like all various types of music that that’s what ends up coming out.
Do you prefer listening to live artists, acoustic, DJ sets? What draws you in?
EH - I go to a lot of shows, they’re usual really inspiring, I end up going to see quite a lot of experimental shows and dance music stuff, and I end up at Café Oto a lot! I listen to mixes a lot too, so I immerse myself in a wide range of stuff. But when I’m listening to mixes it’s more because I want to chill than looking for inspiration
Who have you seen recently that’s blown you away?
EH - My favourite show that I’ve seen recently is Pole, he does sort of dub-techno sort of stuff, that was actually in Café Oto, and that was one of the best sets I saw last year, because its incredibly nice sounding, whole and rich sounds. He’s like a mastering engineer so he managed to make it sound really good on a production level.
On the topic of releases, let’s go big picture for a second. Where do you think online music is heading in terms of what it means for making and listening to music?
"I hope it’s getting to the point where artists have more independence and control over their own career, but everyone is still quite committed to labels and being represented by them. Of course, now more artists can also release more music than ever, and more often, so listeners have more choice – but it’s harder to get heard, and even harder to find your own place as an artist. You can buy loads of fake likes but you can’t buy listenership"
So against that backdrop, what advice would you give to emerging artists today? How do you give yourself an identity?
EH - That’s a daunting place to be, starting to get into the music industry especially if you’re planning to go far with it or have got a specific place you want to get to. I would say to learn from everyone around you that you see doing their music thing. But it’s so easy to look at other people’s success and compare yourself to them, or think about how far you still have to go, but you need to remember that everybody has to carve out their own path. In music, there’s no one single way of doing it. It is worth learning from what other people are doing, what other managers are doing, I think learning about self-managing and learning about yourself and what exactly you are and what you want to do. Basically, just keep doing you and don’t try and copy others or compare yourself.
Elsa won the Lynsey de Paul Prize, set up to support emerging female singer-songwriters, meaning she won both a talent bursary and mentorship to help develop her music career. Listen to the incredible Elsa Hewitt across all major streaming platforms and on Bandcamp