Atlanta singer and rap artist Elhae is slated to takeover in 2016.
It’s rare to find an artist who has the talent to make love “cool” and Elhae accomplishes this with a genuine approach. He released his critically acclaimed ‘Aura’ EP earlier this year, further catapulting his soundcloud to over 60,000 followers who are loyal to his music. Elhae has been able to find a sound that resonates with everyone thanks to an incredible pen game and honest vocals that combine the perfect amount of smoothness with grit. We were able to catch up with Elhae in Oakland, CA, for a live Q&A at Oaklandish. Read our feature interview on the rising artist below.
So when did you get your start in music?
I think it was around my freshman year in high school actually. I recorded something like a random song and it was terrible – it was just the fact that my voice was coming out of the speakers that I was like holy crap this is amazing. So that was the point when I was like, this is it. I want to do this for life.
So you sing, you rap, and you produce?
Yeah I try to do everything…
Which one of the three is number one for you ?
I started out in music singing because I saw Pharrell, and I was like man this guy is amazing – I want to do everything possible that this guy’s doing. It was the “Frontin’” video actually. I started singing and then I did rapping later and producing also came later so I would have to choose singing.
Hip-Hop and R&B are blending together heavy right now. How do you feel about the growth of alternative R&B?
I think everything including music evolves, and we’re living in a generation where that’s the norm at this point. I mean it wasn’t always like that of course but I think it’s a good thing. It’s always good to progress whether it’s with music or life or whatever. I don’t see why it would be a bad thing.
So let’s talk the Aura EP. What was the concept behind that project?
Aura was a project I decided to put together after I made a song called “Sam.” I did an EP before that called HER and it was just following a breakup. So I did that project just to vent and get the feeling out because I was really hurt after that project. Aura was kind of like a follow up, I approached it like I would approach a friend like “Hey, this is how I’m doing now”.
If someone listened to the HER project and was like “hey, that situation sucked, you were hurt. How are you now?” – I would respond with Aura. That’s kind of why the beginning of the first song is “I made it out.” I made it out of that relationship unscathed and I’m cool now.
“Drive Me Crazy” from Aura was actually one of our favorites & blew up. What were a few other songs that became personal favorites for you?
I like “Time For You,” because it didn’t get as much love as the rest of the songs and all of the songs are like my babies. So the fact that there’s a song on there that didn’t get as much attention as the other – it’s like the step-child. I also like “Halfway Love” of course and “Wonder Woman.”
Who are some people you want to collaborate with?
I’ve pretty much met everyone I’ve wanted to collab with. I just haven’t collab’d yet. Pharrell is the top one. I’m not really the type of artist that wants to be on all these features. I’m really to myself.
How has Atlanta influenced your sound?
Man, ATL is just turnt for no reason! But what’s weird about it is that I don’t do that type of music. I don’t do the typical trap. But I like to try to use a few of its elements in order to make it my own distinct sound. You know I do a lot of R&B so I like to put trap drums in it a lot, as well as the adlibs like ‘YOU JUST. GOTTA. WAIT’ (on “Love a Nigga”). Stuff like that is typical in Atlanta. So I like to pull little things from it but give it my own flare as well.
You’ve chosen to go a route of really embracing the lyrics of relationships in a time where we’re coming off of this dark wave of R&B. I would say you’re paving some of the way for that. Why have you chosen this route?
I think there’s not enough of that. I think there’s not enough positivity surrounding the subject of love in general. I think love is a great thing. It has its ups and downs but I think it’s just like J. Cole said in one of his songs, “This is the part that the thugs skip!”, because he just knows that’s not what typical people want to hear. So for me it’s all about trying to make that dope. Because I love women and I think love is dope. And I just want to shed light on the positive side of it in addition to the negative side. And I think honestly that connects across the board. Because whether you’re in high school or whether you’re grown, you’re going to go through that eventually, unless you’re just a heartless person. But we’re naturally made to be attracted to other humans so you can’t get away from that. That’s something that connects across the board. So why not touch on subjects like that? I think that’s what’s made me popular now because I do touch on topics that are relatable.
What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned in 2015 so far with being immersed in the industry right now?
Remaining true to you and what you want to do. I did a lot of stuff on the opposite end of that where I was just listening to different people trying to figure out like okay, this person likes that sound so let me do a song for that person. And then I’m left with a project, I’m like ‘this isn’t even me, I hate this project’. It wasn’t until recently when I did Aura and the HER EP, that I can say I really just did what I wanted to do. And when you’re doing what you want to do regardless of what people are saying, it comes off authentic. It comes off genuine. And I think that’s what people want to hear.
So what can you tell us about new music right now?
I’m working on it. Literally I’ve just been putting little singles out here and there. But I’m working on it, and this project is going to take some time because I’m such a perfectionist about projects and music in general. I’m my worst critic you know? And this project is conceptual too which also takes more time. If you look at any of the great albums, they’re all like that. For instance Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, which was super conceptual from top to bottom, took how long? 2012 to 2015 of this year? So yeah, I don’t plan on taking three years, that’s for sure, but I do want to take my time with it.
What advice would you give to artists that are just coming out the gate trying to make their way in this Internet age?
I mean you just said it, the Internet. That’s everyone’s biggest tool. I literally put up my music without any intent on receiving love and got a lot of it. So there are a lot of things you can do. Utilize YouTube and SoundCloud, and I say those two because I see cameras in the crowd and I know people do music as well. There’s ways that you can get your stuff seen and heard. So just using the Internet and being true to what you want to do. And don’t be afraid to work. That’s the biggest thing. You can’t just throw something up and be like alright that’s it! You have to actually go out there and network. I used to send emails every day. I didn’t care who it was to. I just sent emails to different blog sites or anywhere I could get my music heard. And none of those people got back to me. However, the fact of the matter is that I did the work and it feels better when it comes back and you feel like you deserve this.
Instagram + Twitter @elhae