voice on the verge #25: elena
It’s hard to keep up with all the one-named female singer-songwriters who’ve flooded out of Europe in recent years: even within a single alphabetical tier there’s Eva, Elisa, Elíza, and now Elena, a husky-voiced Italian whose specialty lies in melodic, ballsy rock. Whether prowling through the verses of recent single ‘Pink Punk’ with sultry intent or letting rip her pleasing rasp in the title track of her upcoming second album Paint It Gold (out November 24th), Elena is exhilaratingly authentic and emotional. (The album was largely recorded while she was in the hyperhormonal state of pregnancy with her daughter India, and it shows.) If Lucinda Williams ever swapped her bruised country leanings for Amy Ray’s anthemic garage rock aesthetic, it might sound a bit like this. That the buzz surrounding her debut album Glimpse did not translate into commercial success suggests a lack of appetite for music of Elena’s sinuous bent in this country, leaving her out in the cold with the likes of fellow Italian rocker Gianna Nannini and homegrown acts like Rose Kemp. Perhaps Paint It Gold will live up to its title; only time will tell. But seeing as there’s a whole month to go before it’s released, there’s plenty of time to get up to speed with the personality behind the music with our trusty questionnaire…
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What’s your middle name?
I don’t have one, but I’d like to be called Carmen.
If you could star in any TV show, past or current, which would it be and what kind of character would you play?
‘Little Britain’, and I’d play Andy!
What were you like at school?
Not far off from Vicky Pollard!
What did you want to be until you decided to become a musician…if you ever did ‘decide’ that is!
A wildlife vet working with big cats!
What did you listen to when you were growing up?
Lots of guitar music. Anything from Pink Floyd all the way to PJ Harvey.
Which female musicians have most inspired you?
Tell us about your favourite instrument…
My Gretsch Duo Jet guitar. It’s called Joanita, and my A&R guy gave it to me when he signed me.
Do you have an instrument you’d still like to learn? What’s stopping you?
The drums…just lack of time.
What’s your funniest studio memory?
My ex-bassist insisted on wearing headphones during a listen back. The engineer accidentally unplugged the main speakers and connected everything into the headphones – it was the loudest bang ever!! You should have seen his face, he was in shock. It taught him not to be so spoilt.
If you had to pick one song from your repertoire to represent your entire body of work, which one would you choose and why?
‘Butterflies’. It’s full of emotions, just like me!
What’s your favourite song to cover and why?
‘Walk Like An Egyptian’. So much fun to play and sing!
What kind of person would have sex to your music?
A straight girl having sex with another girl!
What was the last good book you read and how did it affect you?
Ernest Hemingway’s ’The Old Man & The Sea’. It made me dream all the way.
How are you most likely to die and what would you want written on your headstone?
Electrocuted on stage ’cause of my lead guitarist spilling beers on my pedals! And I’d love to have ‘Rock Goddess’ written on my headstone!
What are your views on feminism?
Not much, I think we are all equal now!
What is your most loved item of clothing and why is it so treasured?
My leather jacket. My friends named me The Fonzy ’cause of it!
What’s the worst job you’ve ever worked and what was so bad about it?
A pole dancer in LA…didn’t like my costume!
What’s the biggest problem facing the world today and do you have any ideas on how it could be addressed?
Intolerance. Kill all religions and just have one universal god that people can call whatever they want.
If you chanced upon Aladdin’s lamp what three things would you wish for?
To feed the world; to have a pair of wings; and for my dog Rocco to beat his epilepsy.
Would you rather see a ghost or simply have a piece of toast and watch the evening news?
A ghost. My uncle Pietro; I never said goodbye properly.
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
Prepared a nice broccoli and sweet potato purée for my 6-month old daughter!
Tick tock, tick tock. What you waiting, what you waiting for?
Anna, my partner, to come home from work.
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Elena plays Feeling Gloomy at the Islington Academy on Saturday and at The Dublin Castle in Camden on November 20th.