22-year-old Elle Varner has been making a strong case for herself, especially with her debut single “Only Wanna Give It To You,” reaching over a million views on YouTube. The songstress was first introduced to the music industry through her parents, before continuing to pursue her musical career by attending Clive Davis’ Department of Recorded Music at NYU. After graduating, Elle signed with MBK Management/J Records, much like the footsteps of vocal powerhouse Alicia Keys. Most notably, Elle was even a featured artists in BET’s Music Matters showcase of new talents. Now with her J. Cole-assisted single blowing up, Elle Varner is ready to show the world how “perfectly imperfect” she really is.
In an exclusive interview with Singersroom.com, Elle touches on her musical influences, her debut album ‘Perfectly Imperfect,’ and also what she looks for in a guy.
Everyday Girl… That I’m just a regular girl doing my thing. I’m pretty approachable and down to earth. That’s pretty much it. [Laughs]
J Cole Chemistry… We actually didn’t record [the song] together. We kinda corresponded since we were both so busy. I knew him from school, and when we thought about putting a rapper on it, I just hit him up and he was totally responsive. And then for the video, what actually made the video so great was that we already had the chemistry of knowing each other, so it wasn’t like working with this big rapper for the first time. [Laughs] I already knew him, so I wasn’t nervous or anything. And you can see that in the video, that there’s a comfort level. There was a magic.
Making Ms. Varner say “I Only Wanna Give It To You”… I think if a guy is just really respectful and he has his life together. [Laughs] Just has it together and is for real, then I would say that. But hey, that doesn’t happen too often. [Laughs]
Drawn by a Man’s Style… Probably his shoes. [Laughs] I think that’s the first thing I’m going to look at. I look at how he puts his outfit together, and if it looks like he put too much thought into it, then I’m kinda turned off. [Laughs] Like I think a guy should look like he can dress, but not like he spent more time getting dressed than you did.
Biggest Influence… Biggest influence on my sound would have to be between Kanye [West] and Adele. Only because I only really wanted to combine the best of Hip-Hop and the best of that singer/songwriter soul. So I just picked those two as an example.
Making a Career Choice… I just grew up with it all around me. It was kind of like being my parents’ apprentice from a young age. It was something that I didn’t realize I had developed such a skill for while growing up. But really towards the end of school, I decided that I really wanted to go for it full-on because I said, I have to at least try this — like all of my effort — before I give it up and go for something else. I just knew I hadn’t gone all the way with it yet.
Not A Jack of All Trades… [Laughs] I can’t play basketball at all. [Laughs] I can pretty much run now, but I used to suck and finish in last place. [Laughs] I did! I’m not the most athletic. Let’s see, what else can’t I do? I burnt three pieces of toast today. [Laughs] But I can cook if I really try. I don’t know… There’s a lot of stuff I can’t do. [Laughs]
L.A. vs NYC Experience… I think L.A., because of the aesthetics and the weather and the laidback-ness, there’s a different pace to working. You can go out by the pool and sit there and write a song. While as in New York, you’ll probably be in a studio, indoors all day long. Those things definitely affect creation differently.
For me, there’s a nostalgia about L.A., especially West Coast rap, like NWA will always be a part of me growing up. While New York has given me the grind and hustle mentality and tough-skin. Both have influenced me a lot.
Ultimate Goal… My ultimate goal is for music to be a platform for me to do something a lot bigger. To sum up, Oprah is a huge role model for me and everything she’s done, and how she’s used her celebrity to achieve these incredible things in life.
Album Topics… I’m definitely addressing feelings of the human experience, such as insecurity, jealousy, sexuality, sensuality, deep love, going out drinking [Laughs] There’s just a kind of moment of a full spectrum on the album for every kind of feeling and vibe — some fun songs, some serious songs, some sad songs, happy songs, it’s all there.
Defining ‘Perfectly Imperfect’… That title really represents where I’m at in life. I’m feeling like, this is who I am. I’m perfectly imperfect. That’s just going to say, I’m never going to be perfect and I’m okay with that. And it also kind of encapsulates a lot of material on the album, such as “So Fly” and songs that are just about accepting yourself.
—— By: Interview By Connie Tang