No Brit School alumni, Elli developed her impressive vocals first in her bedroom, then gigging in her hometown of Brighton. She grew up in a musical house: her dad performing in a classic rock cover band, her mum listening to Joni Mitchell, reggae and ska and her sister playing piano.
At 14, a teacher entered her into a talent show; she sang Norah Jones and won. Her name was read out at the end of the night but she’d already left for a party and her mum had to collect the award. Thrown in with “all these boys who just wanted to make rock”, she struggled to find a place and considered quitting. “I was like, what am I supposed to sing, Primal Scream?” Finally she found a boy who shared her mum’s love of reggae and they started performing in local pubs: “to our parents and a few drunk people.”
Now, having toured Europe with Chase & Status and sung to a crowd of more than 10,000 at Glastonbury, she says the stage is where she feels most at home: “It’s the best feeling. I feel relaxed and safe in a weird sort of way. Especially when it’s dark and you can’t really see anyone and it’s just me. I love it.”
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