An Interview with ELLE MB

  • 5 min read

A talented neo-soul singer songwriter based in Berlin, ELLE MB has recently shared her new single ‘Roleplay’, delivering distinctively velvety vocals take centre stage alongside a driving live drum groove and airy open guitar chords.

An immersive talent, ELLE MB grew up in West Berlin in the early 2000s and spent her childhood being exposed to all genres of music. She found her teenage-self listening and dancing along to the iconic soundwaves of Lauryn Hill, D‘Angelo and James Blake, and those influences shine through in her own music.

With a sound that oscillates between the genres of pop, neo-soul, and contemporary RnB, ELLE MB has become one of the most intriguing talents of the year so far, and we couldn't wait to speak with her about it.

Lovely to meet you, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few of our questions. Let's take it right back to the beginning, how did you first start making music?

"I grew up in Berlin, big city life! I started singing from a very young age and so my parents put me in a professional choir. So from 8 to 16 I had musical education, vocal training and first stage experiences. As a late teen I quit choir and started to learn some chords on the guitar and piano, just enough to sing pop songs to it. This is where I experimented a lot more with my voice. In my early twenties I jumped from jam session bar to jam session bar and kind of figured out that it's very fun and easy to improvise vocals. Even though I met so many musicians, playing and jamming with them on and off it somehow never clicked. So it had to come to me, sitting in my shared flat kitchen in 2021, mid pandemic, with friends of friends who happened to move into a new studio in Berlin-Neukölln just recently and are always looking for new projects. So Raphael (my drummer now) linked me up with Konstantin and Paul, who are just as much as me interested in Soul, Neo-Soul, RnB, Hip Hop, Indie and genre bending music for sure. And this is when we started ELLE MB and I got into actual songwriting for the first time."

Can you tell us a bit about your new single?

"When it was clear that 'roleplay' will be the key word and maybe even the title I instantly connected it to a feeling of not being able to be your truest self in relationships and how this can be damaging but also how beautiful it is to open up to people with good intentions, more understanding and healthy communication."

"I figured out that 'roleplay' for me kind of stands for a reoccurring role I was playing in previous relationships, romantic relationships but also friendships. But knowing you made mistakes in the past doesn’t mean you can do it better the next day. So there are still some leftover coping mechanisms, patterns and old wounds that need to heal. But then finding yourself in a healthy relationship is a process to fully accept but is so beautiful if you’re able to open up and let it happen."

How would you describe the sound you've built in the single?

"My music is vaguely oscillating between the genres of pop, neo-soul and contemporary RnB with a sprinkle of jazz-harmony and a soft spot for detailed sound-design."

What is your songwriting process? How does it all come together?

"With every song it’s kind of different but almost every song yet started with me and my producing band (Raphael, Konstantin, Paul) jamming in our studio in Berlin-Neukölln. So them grooving with their instruments, gentle bassline, soft amped guitar chords from Konstantin, piano or synth lines from Paul and a drum preset or immediate live drums from Raphael get me into the creative zone immediately. So also with this release it was a mixture of sounds that we create in the studio that just project a vibe and my subconsciousness that deals with topics and drops words while vocal melodies find their way out of my mouth."

What’s the most important thing for you when you’re writing a song?

"Right now the most important thing is to surround myself with dedicated musicians who together with me create a space where creativity can flow. Also right now in my songwriting process, also since I’m still kinda new to all this, I honestly just let my subconsciousness talk right now because I feel like there is some cleaning and dissolving to do. But for future projects I also want to discuss subjects that are dearly to me and need more attention, more people opening their mouths for."

What’s next for you as an artist now that the single is out?

"I’m in the finishing process of my debut EP while simultaneously rehearsing for two gigs end of August/ beginning of September. I will play at the Tarmac Festival in Germany on the 3rd of September."

What would your dream collaboration be?

"Wow, that’s a really good but also really hard question. I hope I’m allowed to name a few: Frank Ocean, 070 Shake, Noname, Little Simz, James Blake, SZA."

What advice would you give to band’s who are looking to make it?

"I wish I had advice for people out there, I’m so much in the beginning of everything, not all knowing if I’m gonna make it haha. But what I try to do right now is making music with people I feel comfortable with, gathering all knowledge and equipment, dive into the scene, checking out what events are happening around me, share experience and connect, asking for help, apply arts and culture fundings, have fun with the aspect of visual output as well, getting creative, personal and unique with it. It’s your project, you have to like it :) That’s all I got I think."

What has been your best moment as a musician/band so far?

"I’m not so much a ‘absolute favourite’-person, I always have to name a few. Having the first ever jam session with the talented musicians Paul Keilhau, Konstantin Wenning and Raphael Sturm was magical, the first moment I really believed I could do this."

"The first released song 'low' was also very special, I was super overwhelmed by the response. Being in a curated Spotify playlist was also such a lucky moment, also a big accomplishment for my producing band. Getting booked for the first ever official gig at Tarmac festival. Working with a manager from the UK."

Lina, the talent behind the ELLE MB moniker, started singing from a young age. She was part of a professional choir and received musical education and vocal training. As a late teen, she quit choir and started to learn some chords on the guitar and piano, just enough to sing pop songs to it.

In the creative melting pot that is Berlin, Raphael Sturm (her now drummer) linked her up with Konstantin Wenning and Paul Keilhau, who were just as much interested in Soul, Neo-Soul, RnB, Hip Hop, Indie and genre bending music as she was - and out of this collective, ELLE MB was born.

ELLE MB‘s songwriting revolves around the grand theme of interpersonal relationships while trying to illuminate all the nooks and crannies and contradictions of modern everyday life within an urban environment.

Connect with ELLE MB,

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