Nijae and Max are the two members of Elle Lefant . Their music is turned to a fresh indie pop, a perfect combination between the voice of Nijae and the inspired music of Max. These two american students from Poughkeepsie (NY) arrive with a catchy 4 tracks album 'Pulse' that you will make you want more. Now it’s time to meet this surprising duet!
- First can you explain your band’s name ‘Elle Lefant’ and how it began?
Elle Lefant came from an obsession Nijae recently had over elephants. (She bid on so many elephant necklaces on Ebay! ) We went through a lot of names before coming to this one. Rather than choose the name elephant, we decided to do a little word play on the way it sounded and looked and thus we were christened 'Elle Lefant.' It managed it fit us perfectly somehow in a very unexpected way, and it stuck. Plus, elephants are so great, aren't they? and wise. We're gonna adopt one. Well, Nijae wants to.
We're both currently Vassar students. Nijae, a junior, and Max, a senior (soon to be graduate!). You could say Elle Lefant was formed in the small confines of a dorm room and, from there, we took our mutual love for music and ran with it. Serendipity is the only way to describe how we ended up working together. It was unexpected, unplanned, and yet perfectly timed.
- How would you describe your music?
Our music definitely lends itself to indie pop, but, when we play live, it also takes on a more folk feel. Our interest in music has a very wide range and, with the more songs we create, the more difficult it is to define ourselves within a single music genre. What we aim to do is create music that moves people emotionally as well as physically. We want to make people dance and laugh and cry and sing and yell. Maybe not all at the same time, but that could be nice.
- Can you tell me more about the 4 songs of your album ‘Pulse’? What are their subjects?
They all seem to revolve around the notion of love being unattainable. Whether its because you can't handle it, can't hold onto it, or can't find it. But we go on searching and grasping anyway, because it makes us alive, I guess. Its our pulse, you know?
- Your first album contains 4 tracks, is it the visible part of the iceberg? Are there other tracks in preparation?
We still have so many songs to record. And we're excited about all of them! We just need to find more time, but the amazingly positive feedback we've been getting definitely serves as motivation for us to record more and share more. Ell Lefant's gotta spread the love. Its a wonderful feeling to know that people truly appreciate the music that we're making and there's more more more tunes to come!
- As you are a duet, how do you work together on a song? Do you first work on the production, then come the vocals? Or the two come together?
Three of the songs on the demo we're written by Nijae. No Moon was collaboratively written with Max on the piano and Nijae doing lyrics and vocals. Recently, we've put more emphasis on writing songs together. Its hard to define a clear process because the music comes from any and everywhere whether we're together improvising during a jam session or one of us is walking around campus and a tune pops in his/her head.
- Nijae, You have a special voice what makes one of the particularity of the band, how did you come to sing this way? Which singer inspired you?
I really didn't start singing until about 3 years ago when I started going to Vassar College. Honestly, I don't really know where my voice came from. It simply evolved in the same way that I was learning and growing through my college experiences. I could NOT sing like I do now 3 years ago, and so I can only credit Vassar for this change. I'm inspired by artists like Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong. To me, their voices come from much deeper place than their vocal chords. You can feel their emotions in the lyrics; you can grasp their soul in those vocals. And, if you define music as something that comes from your gut/ your soul, it makes all the sense in the world that I didn't find my voice until college. Vassar and the wonderful people it consists of contributed so much to who I am today and how I interact with the world from the inside-out-- and I can feel that transformation and growth when I'm singing.
- Where do you find inspiration for your lyrics? How do you work on it?
Most of my lyrics come from a place of imagination, daydreams. The subjects in them aren't real, per se. They describe a certain kind of love and fear that I have yet to experience, but know all too well. Or struggles I have witnessed in the lives of those close to me. But, I'm a theater major, so I'm all about the reality of make-believe.
I play a variety of instruments, the autoharp, banjo, guitar, ( the xaphoon-- but not that well) and so most of my songs start off with me strumming a simple melody that gradually transforms into a something more. Or sometimes random lyrics get stuck in my head, I write them down, and Max and I take it from there.
- Max, what about the production part?
We have our songs mostly completely composed by the time we start recording, so the basic framework is there for us to follow by the time we get in the studio. I usually start by playing around with different synthesized sounds, mostly focusing on rhythms, bass and keyboards. Nijae listens as I try different things out and we talk through each sound choice as we build the song. After we have the basic idea we want to convey in place and the initial vocals recorded, I take a day or two to listen to it and then we go back in to make edits.
- Which instruments/software do you use?
Before we record, we write our music on the piano, banjo, guitar, or any other instrument that Nijae has been inspired to buy on eBay. In the studio, I use Logic Pro 8 with two MIDI keyboards, one small and one full-length. Occasionally I use Audacity to make edits on non-rhythmic sounds. For live performances, I mostly play piano and Nijae occasionally plays banjo or guitar.
- What inspires you in your creation process?
I am hugely inspired by other musicians (including my bandmate). One of the most fulfilling parts of producing music is thinking of myself and Elle Lefant as part of an enormous music project, not an isolated event. I draw on (or react to, or rebel against) music I've heard with the confidence that I have something new to offer, a different perspective, a unique vision incorporating similar elements. I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to work with Nijae's spectacularly distinctive voice, which makes offering a fresh perspective really easy.
- I saw you quote Bon Iver, Lykke Li, Robyn, Marina and the Diamonds as your main influences. Can you present a bit these artists?
Both of us love and appreciate all of these current artists for what they provide for the music world. Bon Iver has a haunting voice and simple/strange lyrics that really pierce the heart and move you. And both Marina and Robyn have incredible voices and a very theatrical, performative element to their music that we really admire.
- What’s your next project?
Well, we're hoping to have music video soon, which we're very excited about. And there are more songs to come!
- A word to finish?
We would like to thank everyone, especially Jamendo, for their overwhelming support of our music! Jamendo provides such a positive and welcoming atmosphere. And after only a few months of being on the site, we couldn't have dreamed our music would get such a response.