Menu

Search anything and hit enter

<12 months ago>

Whisky Kicks

WORDS

Who The Hell Is E-Lisa

NOW READING •

Who The Hell Is E-Lisa

E-Lisa’s story is one of perseverance and rediscovery after she took a long break from music before finding her way back in 2017. Beginning her journey years ago when she was on the verge of signing with Mickey Finn’s label, Urban Takeover due to her age never materialised, she then took a break from music, focusing on building a family and navigating life’s challenges. But in 2017, E-Lisa found solace and inspiration in music, using it as a means to heal from a difficult period in her life. What started as a personal outlet quickly gained momentum as her songs received recognition on BBC Introducing. E-Lisa’s passion for music reignited, and she began her journey as a producer and DJ, albeit in an unconventional order. With her unique style and genuine love for the craft, she effortlessly carved out a space for herself in the drum and bass scene.

E-Lisa’s collaboration with renowned producer and mentor, Ray Keith, has played a pivotal role in her artistic growth. Ray recognised her potential and took her under his wing, offering guidance and invaluable industry insights. Despite facing rigorous feedback, E-Lisa embraced constructive criticism, allowing it to shape her sound and improve her craft. Ray’s mentorship has been instrumental in honing her skills and preparing her for the release of her highly anticipated album. E-Lisa’s journey with Ray Keith exemplifies the power of mentorship and the impact it can have on an artist’s career.

In this interview, E-Lisa’s down-to-earth personality shines through, reflecting her carefree and genuine approach to music. She discusses her insecurities and challenges, including her age and being a mother in the industry. E-Lisa’s commitment to drum and bass grows from a deep-rooted love for creating and performing, rather than an insatiable drive for fame. She remains focused on enjoying the process, allowing her music to evolve organically. As her career continues to blossom, E-Lisa’s refreshing perspective on age, talent, and inclusivity challenges conventional notions and inspires others to pursue their dreams regardless of their circumstances.

Hi E-Lisa, how are you?

I’m in a really good place at the minute. I’m really happy with how things are all going. I’m very much laid back with the music at the minute because I went back to uni in September. I’m studying to be a social worker but always said I’m always gonna do my music because wherever it takes me, it will take me. I’ve always got something else as well, I love psychology, caring for people and the social care side of things. And then there’s a very musical side of me. So I like to sort of keep it going. But things with the music just seem to be going off on a tangent, I haven’t even pushed massively for it. I just enjoy it, I’m not trying to blow up or anything.

When did you start working in music?

I was actually going to be signed to Mickey Finn’s label Urban Takeover in 1998, but because I was only 17 and I was at college or whatever it never happened. I was doing some work in a studio and was DJing on pirate radio but then I stopped all the music. I went away and I got married, I had children and I didn’t do any music until 2017. I had a massive break from it.

I came back from a broken relationship and I threw myself into music as a way to get over a bit of a rubbish time I’d had. It just went from there I started reconnecting with people that I used to know in drum and bass years ago. And pushing it forward. I started writing music before I started DJing again, which was quite odd because it’s normally the other way around- people DJ first and then they get into production, but I was writing songs and they were going on BBC Introducing. I write my own tracks and sing. When people started to like my tracks I thought I should start to play them out. But I’d only ever played on vinyl, I had never even used a pair of CDJs. So I had to teach myself. I know it sounds weird because it’s normally the other way around. I had to teach myself to DJ on digital, which was really weird for me and I must admit, I still DJ like I’m using vinyl. Two tunes at a time, jump in, mix it, drop it out, double drop. I’m still quite basic at mixing, but I do enjoy it. The one thing I get a lot of praise for is my selection. 

 I started just playing out and it just went from there, really. And one thing led to another. I’m quite a sociable person, I go out and chat with people and I get to know people. So I was networking without even really realising I was networking. The whole thing with Ray Keith came up because I went up to him at Hospitality In The Park. I was really nervous but I spoke to him, and he told me to email him some tunes, so I sent him my tunes and then he was like “ You’re not quite ready yet, but I can hear something quite unique. So, keep working on it.” And I did, and I kept sending and then all of a sudden it was like, boom. He wanted to take me under his wing.

Are you ready now?

Yeah, I wasn’t quite ready straight away, but he put me under a mentorship. 

just Be · E – Lisa – Chance The Rapper [Bootleg]

 

The first time I heard you was on Ray Keith’s show, and I remember thinking how good the track was. Your voice was so soft and beautiful on top of this dirty tune…

Thank you, to be honest, I don’t really listen to a lot of drum and bass at home. I’ve listened to so much different music and when I hit the studio and I write a track, I just follow the feeling in me. I don’t go in thinking I need to sound like these current sounds or I need to do this or that. A lot of my stuff is really off-key, I don’t write stuff that’s generic and it’s a bit risky. For a lot of people my music is like Marmite, they either like it or they don’t but this sound is me. It’s like Ray said “It’s just something you’ve got. Your own sound, but it’s not the same on all of your tunes, but we know it’s you.” 

I taught myself to produce. I’ve been producing for seven years and if someone asked me the technical terms for what I’m doing I wouldn’t have a clue. I just literally play on the laptop and just if it sounds good, it sounds good. But I started working with Daps from Compound Audio and he really helped me with my mixdowns and the quality of my tracks. I come from more of a musical background rather than a technical background but he helped me with the technical stuff to get it sounding right. I’ve learned a lot just from sending him tunes to master, when they come back, I might ask him how to change something on the mix. Rather than do it for me he’ll tell me how to do it because I want to do it all myself and want to learn from it. We’ve been talking about a vocal dub pack that we’re gonna put out. 

That’s a good idea…

Yeah, that is something I want to do, but I’ve had a few things on and I’ve a few things to do first. I had a release with Covert Garden on Dread Recordings and then I had a couple with another producer called Ruckus , we did a double release. Then my six-track EP went out and then the next big thing is the 15 Track album.

Ooh, when is that coming out?

It will be on Dread. It was supposed to be this year, but I think it’s gonna be next year. I’ve written two tracks with Ray Keith that are going on his ‘Birdman’ album. One is ‘Paradise’ which came out a few months ago. And then there’s another one called ‘Feel The Melody’, it’s got that old house vibe to it. It’s got a Soul II Soul riff in there. Then I think he wants to put my album out next year, with some samplers out over this year.

But I’ve started working with Martyn, Martyn Nytram who’s also signed to Dread Recordings) who’s also my partner but he is a DJ and he owns the label Hardpoint Recordings. I’m doing a little work on the label with him, I’ve got some releases coming out on his label and we’ve done some events down at Planet Wax in Deptford and will continue to do so. Which is quite cool. I was at the last Hardpoint Recordings takeover a couple of months ago, it was so good. I loved it. The vibes in there are amazing- it’s all about the music, it’s not cliquey. Everyone’s just properly loving it and that’s the sort of energy I like, so I loved it down there. We’ve been running events down at Basement 45 in Bristol too with Whomp Central. We’ve had three sellout events so I got my fingers in lots of pies really.

So you’ve got your own promotion brands and you also partner with other people? 

It’s just me- E-Lisa which is my artist name, but I just seem to find myself involved with all these little things. I want to start singing more as well now. I’ve had massive confidence issues with singing, in front of people, so I’ve been working with a coach called Jasmine Gur, who was actually the vocal coach on The Voice on BBC- she’s been helping me with my stage presence and confidence. I never see myself as a singer, more as just a musician really. I play piano and guitar, I DJ and produce electronic music, I write songs on my piano and I sing. I don’t really know what I am, I’m just a musician.

I find myself doing all these little different things and not really sort of focusing on one thing. It seems to be when I’ve done loads of DJ gigs then I’ll go off and do a couple of events and then I’ll go and write an EP or something. I’m in a little circle of switching my focus, and then I’m a mum as well and I’m doing a degree. So, I’m… 

So you’re not sleeping… 

It’s a lot of fun, but sometimes trying to juggle it is all a bit mental. I suppose if I was a bit more focused on one area, I would probably be a bit more organised and a bit more focused. But I’m a very carefree sort of person.

It sounds like a lot of work, but I think that’s nice though because everything happens organically. One moment you’re focused on one thing and all of a sudden something else will blow up. I keep seeing your name popping up. How does it feel to be everywhere at the moment? 

I don’t see it like that. I don’t think I am. I look at other artists and I feel like I’m just plodding along. But then I’m not that sort of person. No offence to anyone who’s very driven or career-focused. I just do what I want to, and what will be will be. As long as I’m having fun and I’m enjoying it. I’ll carry on, I’ll never stop. 

Talk to us about your relationship with Ray Keith you mentioned it was like a mentorship…

It wasn’t an official mentorship as such, it was just all of his knowledge and experience from the Drum and Bass scene that he passed on to me. For example, how to deal with people, how to present myself and not telling me what to do, but suggesting I shouldn’t post certain things, because it wouldn’t do any favours for my career. Giving me sound advice with the tracks I was sending. He was hard on me sometimes, I mean, he’s literally ripped some tunes to shreds and I’ve been mortified. But that very cutthroat approach has really helped me because I’m very much a free spirit so I’ve needed it. if someone tells me I will listen.

I’m also working on some stuff with Ruckus for Technique, which is Drumsound and Bassline Smith’s label. Not right now, but that’s in talks at the minute, he wants me to do some vocal stuff. Once I’ve got my album Done with Dread, then my mentorship will be over. I’ll start branching out a bit more, really? I’ve been really trying to focus on getting this finished, not rushing it but taking the advice and guidance I’m giving and listening to what Ray says. Ray’s said to me ‘Once your album’s done you can go and then start releasing elsewhere.’ I’ve been picked up by Darren Jay’s label Balearic Breaks and also Liondub International and I’ve got a couple of collaborations with Voice MC and AC MC, so I’ve got music signed which I’m excited about. 

It must be really nice to have someone put that much time and effort into your career up to releasing an album and they let you free. It seems really selfless.

Yeah, it’s crazy. The thing is, I’m 42, I’m not exactly young. I’m not exactly starting my career. I’ve almost come back to it all, full circle. I’m no spring chicken, a lot of the labels want the younger ones to come in to nurture. Ray hasn’t looked at my age, my gender or anything, or the fact, I’m a mum. He has purely supported me on the basis of the music I’m producing. It’s just really refreshing. There needs to be more of that. 

In the scene, we talk a lot about gender inclusion or Sexual orientation, but we don’t always talk about age and people that are older. Obviously, I don’t think it matters how old you are, if you’ve got the talent, you should be able to have a career if you want to be in the music industry, but it’s hard to break that sort of stigma around it. I think there are quite a few artists that have been in it a long time and then they get to their late 30s and all of a sudden they get their break, but it’s quite unusual just to come in from the beginning at my sort of age. Maybe that’s my insecurity, I don’t know, I feel like you don’t see a lot of it, especially not with bigger labels.

Yeah definitely, backstage at events you do see a lot of older people but they’re usually the people that have been on the scene for years, working their way through. The brand-new artists you meet tend to be quite young. Maybe it’s just because they’ve got more energy and they can really focus on music. So it is really admirable that you’ve got Uni and kids and work and you’re still pushing for music because you love it.

Thank you, I’ll always do it. It’s just something that’s been in me since I was a kid. I was playing the piano when I was seven years old, and I was in an orchestra playing the clarinet. I’ve always played instruments, I played the violin as well and I taught myself the guitar, but I’m not very good at the guitar. 

Oh wow! Did you have lessons for the other ones?

Yeah, when I was a kid and I practised a lot, although I taught myself piano. But the thing I taught myself was the guitar. I always wanted to try the guitar, so I just did the whole YouTube video thing. Which is the same way I learned to electronically produce too. I’ve never done a course, never went to college, nothing. No one ever sat there and gave me tutorials. I literally just figured it out. This is why I’m not very good with the technical stuff. I know how to do things but I wouldn’t know what it’s called. If I want to do something, I’ll just go on YouTube, watch a video and figure it out. Over seven years, you don’t realise the amount of knowledge you end up having.

You just know it sounds good…

Ray has said to me that I’ve got a natural ear for how things sound, and how those sounds can evoke a feeling. He said, “You could have the most technical producer, who knows all of this technical stuff, but their song isn’t creating any sort of vibe”. So essentially I’m not the most technical person but I know how to make music if that makes sense.

Talk to us about how you got into promoting events…

I started off running events in Southend, Essex, where I live putting on events at the local bar. Then I linked up with Benny V. I did the Dance Concept event just a bit after lockdown ended. I remember people being a bit funny about going out and it was all a bit crazy but it was still a really good event. During lockdown, I was running a brand called Method and we were running live streams then when lockdown was lifted we put on a couple of events, and Ray Keith came down to headline one of them. 

Then, because of my experience running the events in my local area, I got approached by a promoter from Bristol called Leah. Being local she knew all the artists, people and venues, but she was still very much new to promoting so she asked for my knowledge and experience. Together we’ve put three sellout events down there- the venues have been completely rammed. The idea is if we could get another two or three sellouts, we can then approach venues like Lakota or Thekla. Currently, we’re at Basement 45, we’d love to hit 5 sellouts. 

1 More Thing · International Women’s Day 2023

That’s not a tiny club though…

No, not at all, we were maxing out about 300 people at the events. It’s not bad for a really small brand. We’ve just got it right so far. The promotion in the lineup, the costs, the tickets, everything has just worked and that’s what’s made it successful. We put on liquid and rollers in room two and jump up and dance floor in the main room. The fact that it’s women running it as well, is pretty cool, two women running this little event and we’ve smashed it out the park. We are having so much fun but it’s hard work, we’re gonna save ourselves now for an outdoor event in the summer, but like I said it’ll be hard. The events scene isn’t as easy as it used to be.

I hear that a lot in interviews, especially since lockdown. Events are taking a long time to recover.  

I was doing a radio show for a while in Essex, called Funky SX, but I came away from that to do a monthly Hardpoint takeover show on the same station Thames Delta Radio. But I came away from the whole radio thing because of lockdown as I got a bit bored with it. I did so much of it because it got me through. We were doing a Zoom dance online nightclub all the way through lockdown.

 People dancing in their front rooms? 

Basically yes. So you’ll see everyone on the screen, people were getting right involved in lockdown. Some people had lights set up in their front rooms. It was a lifeline because everyone was isolated. We even had Skiba come down and do a set for us. I think when I came out of lockdown and the events started happening again, I was just a little bit, all live streamed out, so I didn’t do radio for a while. I carried on with FM because it’s slightly different as it’s actually on the radio, but I’ve only just started doing Like a monthly live-stream show again on Thames Delta. I was on Rough Tempo for about three years, I’ve done Pryo, Life FM  and Kool…

Wow, you’ve done them all.

I’ve done quite a few, I’ve never been on Rinse. To be fair, I’ve gotten quite lazy lately because I looked back at my social media the other week and I was everywhere. But it’s just time, isn’t it? I think, whereas before I just wanted to be everywhere, doing anything but now I’m a bit more focused on what I really enjoy, which is making music. I mean, if you could take away the DJing and the events, I would just make music all day long and sing and be creative. 

As much as I love DJing, it can be hit-and-miss with me because of my nerves. I’ve got very bad stage fright. I because I’m so self-critical of myself. I’m really bad for it, I’ll always criticise myself. I’ve been told, it’s not a bad thing because you’ll never be complacent and never get an ego. You’ll never be one of those people because you’re always judging yourself and you’ll always think you’re rubbish.

What do you think we should be talking about in the scene right now that we’re not?

I think the age thing. I’ve already covered it but I think there’s this whole misconception that raving and drum and bass is for young people. But in the actual scene, most people will agree that it’s not and anybody and everybody is welcome. I’ve seen 65-year-olds in a rave, but people outside of the scene may have that misconception about drum and bass. Let’s be more inclusive of everyone and everything. I think it is pretty inclusive anyway that’s important to me being a 42-year-old woman in drum and bass. Sometimes I’ll go out and people will say “Oh really! No! You’re not that old are you?” And it’s like well, so what?

I suppose as well this whole debate about going more commercial. I just think that it’s music for everybody to enjoy. I’m not necessarily a fan of keeping it in a clique. If someone’s doing well, good on them. If someone is in the charts amazing, for them, I mean that’s where the money is right? When drum and bass hits the charts and TikTok, just let it. Let it grow. Let it expand. It’s good for producers and the music to get that exposure. 

It brings more people in and introduces people. I can even introduce people to the underground…

That’s it. And the thing is, at the end of the day it’s just music. Just enjoy it. If you like a certain style of drum and bass- great, if you don’t, then let other people enjoy it. It’s subjective.

Follow E-Lisa: Soundcloud/Instagram/Facebook  

Previous

Next

More Like This

WORDS

WORDS

Authentically Proud: Steven Braines

Authentically Proud: Steven Braines

WORDS

STUDIO

Studio Survival: Forbidden Society

Studio Survival: Forbidden Society

WORDS

WORDS

Who The Hell Is Ellictt

Who The Hell Is Ellictt

WORDS

Q&A

Hyroglifics is no more- Introducing: Two Swords

Hyroglifics is no more- Introducing: Two Swords

WORDS

WORDS

Insider Interviews: ArrDee & K Motionz

Insider Interviews: ArrDee & K Motionz

WORDS

WORDS

Label Spotlight: Vandal Records

Label Spotlight: Vandal Records

WORDS

WORDS

From Concept to Reality: Nymfo reflects on first year of Love For Low Frequencies (LFLF)

From Concept to Reality: Nymfo reflects on first year of Love For Low Frequencies (LFLF)

WORDS

WORDS

Cover Story: Sota

Cover Story: Sota

WORDS

Q&A

Phace's Sonic Revolution: Creating 'Everyday' and Embracing the New

Phace's Sonic Revolution: Creating 'Everyday' and Embracing the New

WORDS

LABEL SPOTLIGHT

Label Spotlight- Phase Records DNB

Label Spotlight- Phase Records DNB

Popular

CLOSE