This is Blue Chips; a new monthly series dedicated to targeting artists we think offer some of the most sought after new music out there. After all, we're always scouting, eyes and ears constantly perked, sifting through the hordes of talent, identifying and brining the most exciting musical "recruits" to the platform. Every freakin' day is like an indie rock combine in our inbox. Blue Chips is our little way of singling out some of the most exciting new bands on the scene.
For our inaugural profile we sat down at the piano with Ben Elkins; leader of lo-fi, Nashville party outfit, ELEL. The band first caught our attention in January with "40 Watt", via a Mike Birbiglia hosted, KEXP podcast. The song was instantly lovable; a big old beat, some bright and sugary sweet instrumentation, and a fresh vocal hook that will follow you around for days. Since then, the band have released their self-titled debut EP on Mom + Pop Records.
In Part One, Ben breaks down the origins of the band, the songwriting process, as well some of his most surprising musical inspirations. Check out Part Two HERE.
- Hi, my name is Ben, and I play in a band called ELEL from Nashville, Tennessee. A lot of us grew up in the south. Actually, a couple of the members of ELEL grew up in Nashville. It seems like more and more it's in people's minds, it's like, "If I'm gonna do something creative, especially musically or visual arts, Nashville's one of those spots that would be a great place to live. " And just being around hills and trees and lots of beautiful land, I think, is helpful for all of us. It's just a great place to be a creative person. This song's call 40-Watt. - It's kind of strange. Even though we don't sound like we're at all from Nashville, the roots of our music actually are in southern music: soul music, old R&B, jazz, even country music. I like to think about great old country songs when I'm working on a melody, for instance. Sometimes that really works. Sometimes it's fun to, like, layer things up. But sometimes if you just take it down to, like, a simple. . . - I mean, it's like, not gonna win any awards for being an amazing bass line, but, you know, it just felt right and then just kinda started building on top of that. And sometimes when there's a really complicated melody, like, da da da da da dum. I'll do that one, too. - It's, you know, you got to let everything else be really sparse, or else it just gets way too full.
Nashville 8-piece ELEL had a big summer. Their debut track " 40 Watt", an effervescent blast of feel good indie pop, drew comparisons to the likes of Vampire Weekend and MGMT, winning over a slew of blogs and affording them the opportunity to perform at Bonnaroo Festival. The band are set to release their debut album 'Geode' early next year on Mom+Pop.
ELEL, consisting of two horns, two drums, three keys ,guitar, bass and whole lot of vocals, was born from front man Ben Elkins meeting a girl named Eliska. Ben's now wife softened his edges while introducing him to the likes of Beach House and Toro Y Moi. Speaking on ELEL, Ben says " It's the outcome of me producing music that risks leaving space and communicates emotion easily and softly. This band represents a new start for its members, for a variety of reasons. Tied together by the bustling Nashville music scene but from an array of locations, ELEL includes Ben (Arkansas), Zach (Kentucky), Tim (Mississippi), Jo Jo (Queens, NY), Alex (Pennsylvania), and life-long Nashvillians (so far) Fredrick, Jerry and Stefan. According to Ben, "40 Watt is a big loud dance song about dancing with one other person in a little bitty house.' We have more exciting news very soon.