Ele A: “Boredom is precious, it is a creative engine: thank you”

Ele A: “Boredom is precious, it is a creative engine: thank you”

Transparent, profound, contaminated, but also capable of becoming a wave that overwhelms. Just like water. Ele A, rapper born in 2002, born and raised in Lugano and on whom we have been shining the spotlight for some time, is back with a new EP out on Friday 10 May, “Acqua”, which she will present on tour. In the songs, filled with “fresh old school bars”, which in the case of Ele A are not an oxymoron at all, there are intimate stories, but also those of people who try to escape from reality, with the risk of getting lost, of diluting themselves in this liquid company. In the tracks the young artist brings to light nuances of 90s hip hop, the rhythm of boom bap up to jazz, funk and electronica. A mix of genres and influences that has always accompanied her music and that is leading her, also thanks to a light pen, to stand out from her.

Did you realize, during the work, that all the songs had something in common, even on an “existential” level of writing, or did you understand it later?
I start from the concept and then develop the imagery. I started with water as a macro-theme and then, into this whole, I deliberately included the topics that interested me. There is a logical thread. Excluding the first song “Ko”, the opening one, all the songs, even in the titles, have references to water. And also in terms of sound, as well as writing, there is a strong cohesion because I worked exclusively with my producer Disse. For me it is a priority that a project is a closing circle, that everything makes sense.

Why “water”?
It is an element that has always been part of my reality, I come from a place where water is central (Lugano, ed.) because it has always been a meeting point. When I moved to Milan I missed it. And perhaps, to stay on topic, the straw that broke the camel's back was talking to my manager Andrea about Zygmunt Bauman's concept of society and liquid modernity.

The EP is also interesting for the mysterious border that seems to be created between personal narration and the stories of others. Is this a writing process you've thought about?
I'm fascinated by people in general. Everyone who creates, somehow, connects with others. I'm interested in stories, tales. Then it is obvious that through the vicissitudes of others we also talk about ourselves, but for me the fact of giving a voice to others is important because perhaps those same people cannot speak, cannot express themselves as they would like. Somehow I do it for them.

I ask you with respect: “Snow”, which is very intense, to whom is it dedicated?
Not to just one individual. I never write a song thinking about just one person, but several, I mix the stories. “Neve” is a collection of various people I have met in my life who have had a destructive side in common. Something that everyone experiences or can experience. With this piece I tell how difficult it is to be close to a person you don't love, who you want to destroy.

In “Ko” you say: “I transform evil into art. So tiger sinks his fangs that everything can be monetised.” Do you rap to fill a personal void?
When you create something it's because you're missing something. There are many reasons that push someone to make music, especially rap. And I believe that this push has to do with the desire to communicate. In real life I am certainly not the pinnacle of communication (smiles, ed.). In northern Italy, in my opinion, we communicate less than in other parts, there is a tendency to keep many things inside. And this is where, in my case, writing a piece comes in. In all of this, music and sound are fundamental because sometimes they reach where words cannot reach.

There is more?
Yes, another driving force is boredom. I want to thank you. In this liquid society we are not used to making the most of it. I grew up in a period in which there was still the beauty of being bored, something increasingly rare because today we are always hyper-stimulated. But boredom is important.

Your rap has firm roots in history, but also conveys freshness. How would you tell it?
The 80's and 90's are definitely a common segment of most of my songs. But what really inspired the rapping is jazz. My father passed it on to me, I studied it and I have always listened to it. When I was little I said “how annoying, it's elevator music”. Then as I grew up, I started to love the harmonies, the melodies, the progressions. And this linked me to 90s rap in which a lot of jazz was sampled. In addition to the great myths, I also think of names like Pete Rock.

It's a never-closed circle, in reality. I think for example of the work done in recent years by Kendrick Lamar who has worked a lot on the mix of rap and jazz.
True, but in fact then, discovering Kendrick, J.Cole and Drake himself, in reality, even if mentioning them all together in this period of dissing is perhaps not convenient (he smiles, ed.), they work a lot on the jazz sound.

Do you imagine your live shows with instruments?
A tour has started with dates abroad and in Italy, I'm happy. This time it won't be possible yet, but that's my goal. I would like to mix instruments and pre-recorded parts to maintain a certain rap sound worked in the studio which is not always reproducible. Kendrick Lamar Lamar does exactly this, but he keeps the band hidden behind the stage, I wouldn't be able to do that, I like the idea of ​​sharing the same space with musicians. Then I studied piano and cello a little, and who knows, he might even start me playing something….

In “Record deals”, the track that opens your previous EP “Globo”, you rap: “You leave the record company with a smile, but you signed a contract that will be your downfall” and also “Photos of the contract cash and then you will have to give them back, haven't you yet understood that in this world nothing is free?”. How is your relationship with the industry?
For me the most important aspect is awareness. When I wrote that piece I knew much less than I do today. I'm glad I was wary. Distrust helps you avoid making false steps. Now I have a different relationship with the industry, I am less scared and more selective. What I don't like about the industry is the pretense, there are managers and labels who cheat artists. I'm not making it a question of major or non-major, mine is a broader discussion. Furthermore, I don't like the trawling that is done on emerging people, that is, putting a sea of ​​girls and boys under contract without really valorising anyone. It is a strategy, but in my opinion it is quality that must win and not quantity. We are facing saturation….

Are you hoping for a change of pace?
Yes, I don't think hyperproduction can last forever. I really hope that this mechanism crashes. I hope that we return more and more to making music when we want, telling what we want and for the reasons we consider right. And with the right intention too. These elements are a luxury that few can afford today.