Interview: The Organic ‘Noir&B’ Music of Elle Watson

Based in London, Elle Watson is a rising talent of the music industry and is already having a serious experience in the field. Indeed, she started singing and composing at the age of 14. Favoring emotions over catchy pop music, she creates low-key tracks with contained and powerful darkness, leading music critics to dub her style Noir&B, a gloomy version of R&B. With the release of her second single, ‘Suspended’, the young woman is capitalizing on the success of her previous one, ‘Glued’, which attracted a lot of attention, especially thanks to a visual collaboration with Haris Nukem, the bad boy of fashion photography. Yet, the success of that single wasn’t just a question of good hype. It was fairly due to the authentic and troubling talent of Elle Watson.

In this way, ‘Glued’ seems to come from the innermost part of the singer and songwriter, almost exposing her hypersensitive intimacy. Her voice, her intonations are so deep, you could say they are forced out from her guts, as if Elle was expectorating her saddest emotions. ‘Glued’ is not a casual break-up song, there is an organic vibe about it that trigger braingasms and an odd feeling of physical contact. Of course, the video, directed by Haris Nukem, echoes this sensation, with these scantily clad bodies, touching each other’s with languor. We have grown accustomed to the wet eroticism of the British photographer, and the video perfectly summarizes his aesthetics, between provocation and Dantesque. ‘Suspended’ is more rhythmic, and perhaps more classic, with both the glamour of MS MR and the energy of Beyoncé. Its video, also by Nukem, has an amazing baroque look and Eyes Wide Shut-esque undertones.

Discover the exclusive video now on Beautiful Bizarre Magazine!

For the release of her new video, Elle has also accepted to open the door of her musical universe with an interview for Beautiful Bizarre Magazine.

Can you tell me more about you, your universe, both as a person and as an artist?

I would definitely describe myself as an extroverted introvert. A big part of my personality is being social, however I feel like my batteries are drained very quickly and I rush to be alone. I’ve always felt that despite being immersed in the action, I’m always looking in from the outside. I suppose as an artist I draw heavily on those feelings of being foreign in certain situations.

What is your musical background and what are your sources of inspiration and influences?

Some of my earliest memories involve going through my parents’ CD collection, picking things out and not being able to understand why I liked them. My love for music came from a pretty mixed bag because of that. I love artists like Bjork, Prince, The Cure etc, who have definitely influenced me from an early age. I started playing pianos similar to what you’d find in these reviews when I was seven. However I felt the better I got at it, the more stifled I felt. Scales and arpeggios definitely weren’t for me so I quit lessons when I was 13. It was probably a year or so later that I found out about downloading sheet music. Finally, I could play what I wanted, when I wanted. By learning simple pop songs on the piano, it became quite natural to sing over the top of them. I discovered that tends to engage people more than just playing an instrumental and I thrived off that. It wasn’t long after that I became tired of singing other people’s songs. It was more of a task to relate to someone else’s feelings in their lyrics rather than writing my own. So I started to spill thoughts on a page, trying to make sense of things I just didn’t understand. I felt writing was the only cure for me to figure out my own emotions, but also allowed me to disconnect from myself and pretend to be someone I’m not. It was that sense of freedom that inspired me the most.

Elle Watson

Still frame from ‘Suspended’


How would you define your style?

Somebody once dubbed it as ‘Noir&B’, which I suppose means R&B inspired melodies with darker, jarring music/lyrics. I’ve always liked that.

What is your process when creating a song?

It sounds pretty juvenile but it’s what I’ve always done. If I’m writing alone, I literally slam my hands down on the piano and listen to see if there are any nice clashes or any dissonance within that. I work from there, forming them into chords. If I’m writing with a producer it’s similar, however whilst I’m experimenting with chords they start to create a soundscape. We inspire each other as we go and can come up with something fairly quickly that we can develop. For me lyrics never come before chords. I write a fair amount of prose in my spare time, which I look over when I’m writing music, but they’re more of a source of inspiration. The melody comes the most naturally to me, so my lyrics tend to fit around that.

What are the emotions you would like to convey with Glued?

The song itself represents the inner dialogue you go through as you start to feel pressure from somebody. I suppose its written in an emotional state where your feelings haven’t been able to manifest themselves properly yet, so I suppose it conveys the sense of confinement in your own mind.

What motivated the choice of Haris Nukem as a filmmaker for the video of Glued?

I’ve been a fan of his work for years. Our paths somehow crossed a little while ago and he took some photos of me. We formed a friendship from then, which obviously developed into a working relationship as well. He’s a really talented individual who has the most beautiful eye for detail. I played him the song and he asked if he could sink his teeth into it and work together to create something. The fact my first video was created with not only a friend, but also someone who I was inspired by made the experience truly rewarding.

How does the video complete the song?

In one part, the multiple bodies are a physical representation of the feeling of confinement the song conveys. Yet in another way, we wanted to portray the underlying message that we are all innately the same. We wanted to reinforce that humans go through similar things, though sometimes it can be hard to see that when you’re so consumed by your own thoughts.

Photography by Haris Nukem

What are your next releases, as well as possible collaborations with visual artists such as Nukem?

I just want to keep putting out music hopefully leading towards an EP in the spring of 2018. It’s definitely going to be a diverse body of music so collaborating with Haris again is top of my list. I suppose I just want to work with others that inspire me.

What kind of projects, wishes and dreams do you have for the future?

More live shows!



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