Elle and I met in a backwards fashion – having attended Fashion For Conservation (FFC)’s show at London Fashion Week earlier year, she saw my write up and wanted to meet with me.
I’d been a bit miffed at the show, but as someone who doesn’t particular relish fashion weeks, I realised I’d been hasty with my review. Hearing how much work Elle and the FFC team had put in, responsibly sourcing fabrics, working closely with two designers, and doing it all on a voluntary basis, was truly inspiring. To see real change being made on catwalk – in the face of powerful fashion houses, and amongst the freshest designers – was brilliant.
In getting to know Elle, I really felt her passion for making change. As Maya Penn said, we millennials, Gen Z, and younger, are looking to create a world that not only serves a purpose, but looks after the planet and its people. Elle is doing this with her work at FFC, but also as a music artist, model, and brand ambassador.
I’m truly inspired by the way Elle is making a change in industries that may seem far-flung from environmentalism, and in such a cool way.
1. What inspired you to combine nature and self expression in your music?
Music is pure self-expression… I rarely pre-meditate lyrics or melodies – they just come when I’m by the microphone. It’s a natural and very liberating process. I think in our purest moments, we are rooted and connected to nature way more than our current society chooses to realise.
As my source of inspiration, I find metaphors in nature itself. You can learn so much from looking beyond your own experiences. Metamorphosis – a track from my first project – explores the notion that we can totally transform through the unknown and dark times into something beautiful. Such a small creature like a butterfly embodies all that fearlessness and in a way that a hundred words could never say…
“Metamorphosis saved me…
In darkness I rise, like a phoenix to the sky.
You can’t catch me but you try. I’m a butterfly.”
It’s instinctive for me to draw upon nature to express myself… I use quite deep and edgy beats and bass so it also has a digital quality that works in juxtaposition – but that also represents a part of me too: the modern.
I have always been too aware of the hedonism that sometimes comes from being in front of the camera but I found being able to look at art as a way to use my passions in a more altruistic way by championing the environment meant I wasn’t rejecting the visual side to me – both can exist. You can be a conscious creator and do more than one thing – the heartbeat is music but I think all our senses can be used to absorb and then express, so we can use them all. I think I’m definitely a creative chameleon in that respect.
There’s an inner conflict of introvert / extrovert that I think a lot of artists feel too. I want to use my platform to champion a better, more conscious way and that really helps me with that.
2. Do you think more should be done to express the importance of sustainability in music?
Yes. Personally, I feel a sense of responsibility as an artist to ‘dig deep’ and communicate… Art can create this butterfly effect and open people’s minds so it’s important to think about what you’re putting out to the world in that respect.
Music is a powerful communicator and that can be used for change and to empower people. Fashion too, it’s a movement. So for me, there’s clearly a lot we need to do to protect and prevent the damage that is being done by consumerism and negligence to the environment… beyond that on human rights and equality. There’s work to do and so yes I think it’s important to express and use your voice in music, fashion, art – on all these things. Everyone can use their voice… it just so happens that art can create a bit more of a ripple as there’s more eyes and ears pointed towards you.
Even when you’re still emerging, there’s an opportunity to appreciate in what messages you create. Art can also be pure escapism and that’s cool too.
3. What has been the best thing about being a Fashion For Conservation Ambassador?
The best thing about Fashion for Conservation is that it combines two things I’m passionate about: fashion – a highly creative and forward thinking fashion – and also conservation – the fundraising goes directly to grassroots conservation projects.
I’m really dedicated to the environment and protecting endangered species, so to be actively involved in projects on the ground is really important. We were fortunate to be featured in Vogue and major publications around Fashion Week through sustainably expressive runway shows. Since then, we visited the Amazonian rainforest at Hoja Nueva – an eco-retreat that was built on fundraising donations and is doing so much good on the ground. These are two seemingly opposite industries that we are bridging a gap between creatively. That’s very exciting for me.
We also partnered with Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) this year, whose trustees are Sir David Attenborough and Patron HRH Princess Royal, which is a huge honour. They are doing seriously important work and are empowering heroes of conservation.
4. Who inspires you in the eco/fashion/music world, and who should we be following?
Clearly Stella McCartney is doing it right. She’s a total pioneer and is everywhere that matters (I’m pretty sure she has organically cloned herself as I don’t know how she can be in so many places at once).
I am inspired by Eva Kruse, CEO of Global Fashion Agenda in Denmark. I had the pleasure of directing [a show] for Copenhagen Fashion Week a couple of years ago and as a country, they were leaps and bounds ahead on sustainability.
The British Fashion Council introduced me to a new sustainable brand called Mother of Pearl, who I feel are really switched on. Amy Powney, their Founder and Lead Designer, is creating amazing work and is certainly one to watch for me.
Music wise – I actually take a lot of inspiration from the greats of the 90s as I feel we have missed a little timelessness on the music front lately, so I like to incorporate retro feels with very modern sounds… I love Daft Punk, Radiohead, Kavinsky and Little Dragon.
5. Finally, do you have any exciting plans?
Yes! At FFC we have many things in the pipeline – we’re partnering with WFN again to host their 25th Anniversary Gala this month, which will be a really groundbreaking event for creativity in conservation. Our hope is to raise over £1m on the night.
I also recently released new music with a US producer – the track is called ‘Will You Be There’. Producer Dan Vinci and I are also releasing a track inspired by my trip earlier this year to the Amazon. And my DJ friend Lara Fraser and I are up to a few things musically, too.
That’s a lot in the pipeline! Make sure to follow Elle on Instagram and keep up with her exploits.