- A festival-ready mix from the femme culture boss.
- Elkka's Euphoric Melodies, released this past May on Ninja Tune's Technicolour imprint, is easily one of the biggest records of the year. It's an EP purely about pleasure, and it shows, the kind of record that feels tailor made for summer festival stages: chunky bottom end, gorgeous synth work and those, yes, euphoric melodies, that linger in your head long after the next track is mixed in. In its ear-tingling textures and pop-savvy arrangement, Euphoric Melodies—and Elkka's work more broadly—reminds us more than a little of Four Tet, which should give you an idea of the serious talent she's working with.
The Welsh producer, who started out in the singer-songwriter world before finding new ways to express herself in dance music, also runs the femme culture label, which has released stellar EPs from the likes of Ehua, BADSISTA and Ariel Zetina, to champion the work of women and non-binary producers.
Like Euphoric Melodies, the mission of Elkka's RA Podcast is to evoke and instill pleasure, the kind of eclectic, crossover set you'd hear at one of those outdoor festivals that the EP seems made for. Recent bangers from Overmono, Elvin T and Palms Trax melt into old favourites from the likes of Mosca, with a sprinkling of R&B, disco and deep, hypnotic techno. For best results, play when the sun is shining.
What have you been up to recently?
I have mainly been spending my days finishing my next EP, preparing for a return to live shows and walking lots to keep myself sane! On Saturday I had the deeply emotional experience of DJing for the first time in 18 months at Phonox in Brixton (somewhere I have always aspired to play) and it was one of the most unbelievable and unforgettable shows of my life. It felt totally like an out-of-body experience.
How and where was the mix recorded?
My mix was recorded in my house in South London. I am lucky enough to have a small room upstairs which I have converted into my studio and this is where I keep my CDJs and mixer, which have been a little dusty until lately.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I think this mix was fueled by a pure desire to feel good again, feel normal again... to get back to what we all know and love—the dance floor. I have missed it so so deeply and having recorded this within weeks (or days) of returning, it was like a cathartic way to start preparing for that moment. I like to pull people into different directions when I play, whilst full of warmth with some things they may recognise, but also more underground stuff too. I think this mix represents me as a DJ, in this moment, anyway.
You're preparing for your first Elkka live show. What's the setup like, and how will you approach it differently than DJing?
My setup is ever evolving as I enjoy exploring different approaches to performing and being able to express myself freely on stage. I just got a Roland TR-8S drum machine which I am obsessed with and I think is going to be so much fun to play with live. Alongside that is my Korg Minilogue which I adore and used so much on the last record, a Korg Volca and two Allen & Heath Xone:K2 controllers which I use for effects and other ways to manipulate sounds live. I also have an Ableton Push 2 and then everything feeds in and out of Ableton.
Live shows me for me feel totally different as I am trying to curate an experience for people through crafting music in the moment. Plus I sing on some tracks here and there and that connects with people on a different level I believe. I love both DJing and performing live but I think live shows are that bit more personal and vulnerable for me.
Your roots are in pop and singer-songwriter music, correct? How did you end up making dance music, and how is it informed by that musical background?
That’s right, that's what I grew up listening to and how I started my career in music—writing and singing for other people mainly while trying to find my own path as an artist. When I finally decided to produce for myself I got to discover what naturally poured out of me as a musician, unfiltered by other producers or people doing this for me. Electronic music is what I instinctively started to make. I already adored trip hop in my late teens and then house in my early 20s so combined with my songwriting history—the music I make now is the product of all of those influences. I think I will always make music and play music that crosses over into different "genres," as that’s what I love as a listener... music that makes you feel something, that moves you.
What are you up to next?
I will be playing my first live show in a few weeks at Brainchild—which is a obviously a totally different experience to DJing, but equally emotional for me—and then lots of fun at festivals (I hope) such as We Out Here, Lost Village, Field Day and then a couple more live shows with Jon Hopkins (who is a hero of mine) before my own headline tour. In between that, writing more and hanging out with my cat Gillian Anderson and my girlfriend Alex.