From porcelain bulldogs to handmade keepsakes – this Cape Town based musician makes sentimentality a shared experience with an eclectic aesthetic and sounds to match.
The thing about walking into Elle E’s apartment is that at first everything seems very regular, but the longer you’re there the more interesting it becomes. It’s a lot like getting to know somebody. Once the part of your brain that’s really good at making assumptions chills out, you have a better chance of actually having an experience because you’re open to letting it unfold around you.
When Elle E was about 12-years-old she picked up the guitar her mom got from her grandfather. “I found it in my mom’s cupboard and I’d take it to my room and just play with it, but upside down. That’s how the whole upside down guitar thing happened,” she says. Her 16th birthday was marked with a gifted Fender guitar – it went everywhere with her, until it changed its shape to a ticket to London. “And when I got there and I made a couple of bucks, I bought another one. I played and recorded as I travelled, so that’s how my first project started.”
Of her uncanny ability to notice unusual items in a crowd of objects, Elle E says, “I get it from my dad. Me and him would go to the Milnerton market and just buy all kinds of things.” This feeds into her creative process, where pieces that spark curiosity can inspire songs or operate as props for films. A hardcover book opens to reveal a series of audio tapes, bottles of wine look like they remember when grapes were invented and champagne glasses that have kissed more than they’d ever tell – Elle E’s ability to take interest in things that could easily be breezed by is refreshing.
“I’m quite drawn to porcelain dogs for some reason.”
Elle E reassigns worth to items of clothing too – from high-waisted trousers to tops with effortlessly simple cuts. “There’s something about the ‘70s champagne era, smoking cigars, Studio 54 – I wish I was there. I’m fascinated by that old-school, Hollywood Hills thing,” says Elle E who goes about her business travelling through time.
“I’m more myself now than I’ve ever been.”
There’s a change in sentiment that goes beyond an object’s initial purpose when it appears misplaced in time, while its new worth has been found. Everything we experience has face-value, but beyond that there’s almost always room for deeper discovery if we’re willing to explore. In this way, second glances make second chances seem possible.
Words by Celeste Jacobs.