Elle Coves: “I’ve found a sound and a sonic world that I’m super, super excited about”

From bedroom ballads to pop phenomenon, 19-year-old singer-songwriter ELLE COVES captures hearts with her evocative storytelling and infectious melodies.

Words: Martyn Young.


Over the course of 5 striking singles released in 2023, Elle Coves established herself as a supremely exciting talent with a blend of evocative songwriting and a playful, imaginative flourish that chimed with the TikTok Gen Z as she created immersive vignettes like the gently epic wild west lament of ‘Lost Cowboy’ and the exuberant joy bomb rush of ‘Summer’. As we enter 2024, Elle is back and ready to take things to another level with a new song, a new EP and a desire to really put in the pop star work. “I’ve been working on an EP, which I’m really proud of. I’ve been working on it nonstop,” she beams. “I’m really excited for people to hear the music and play some cool shows.” 

While it might seem that Elle arrived fully formed last year with endless bangers to spare, for the 19-year-old singer-songwriter, it was the first real step in a gradual climb. “It’s been slow and steady,” she says. “I started writing songs when I was 14. I’ve been working towards releasing music since then. Working on getting better at writing songs and what I want my music to sound like. It’s still weird to me that people actually care. I like the music, but it’s just weird when other people like it. It’s really cool.” 

Elle recalls that special moment when she went from someone who does music at home to someone who does music because actual real people want to hear it. “When my first single ‘Before I Fall Apart’ came out, that’s when I started to see people really connect,” she explains. “It’s still my most streamed song. When I started releasing music, it all became very real. Before that, it was, yeah, I release music, I’m an artist, or I want to be an artist, but it’s a bit hard when you don’t have something to show people. Releasing music was a big step for me, and I had been looking forward to it for a long time.” 

“I want to make songs that I will still be really proud of 10, 20, 30 years from now. That’s what I’m aiming for”

elle coves

Some of the expansive and freewheeling quality of Elle’s music can perhaps be explained by her childhood growing up travelling around and engaging with different cultures and environments. “I grew up in Germany, but my parents are Spanish,” she says. Elle then moved to Ireland when she was 13 before forging some strong connections in the Irish music scene that have helped her still to this day.

As a kid, though, she was taking in all the sounds enjoyed by her parents, which gave her the pop-rock sound that imbued her first songs. “My parents would listen to Spanish indie-rock bands. There was a lot of German music. My parents were really into rock, so there was a lot of that when I was growing up. Also, I had a bit of everything, especially a lot of singer-songwriter stuff. When I first started writing songs, I was referencing people like Sheryl Crow, and maybe now I’m referencing it more than before.” 

You can definitely hear a lot of the exuberant pop rock of Sheryl Crow in Elle’s music, as well as a pronounced Swiftian rush that helps make her music sound so accessible and relatable. Much like one of her musical heroes in Taylor, Elle’s creative process is, at its heart, simple and direct. “I write my songs in a notebook, ” she explains. “Usually on an acoustic guitar and a piano, and I switch back and forth. The piano is optional, but the acoustic is not; I need a guitar for sure. It’s a safety blanket.” 

As she moves into the next phase of her initial burst into the pop world, though, Elle is beginning to think more expansively. With this EP and my new single, I feel like I’ve found a sound and a sonic world that I’m super, super excited about. I just want to keep going in that direction,” she says excitedly. “It feels very organic with loads of acoustic guitars. It’s still pop songs; I make pop music. I want to make songs that I will still be really proud of 10, 20, 30 years from now. That’s what I’m aiming for. I want to be honest in my songs. It’s not super easy sometimes, but that’s what the EP is.” 

“I might have been a bit heartbroken, but I turned it into something cool and fun to listen to”

elle coves

The single she mentions is called ‘Born To Lose’ and it’s a surging epic anthem that combines searing emotions in the lyrics with widescreen abandon in the music. “Sometimes you can take not-so-pleasant experiences, for example, relationships, and you can turn it into something you can really enjoy,” she says. “In the moment ‘Born To Lose’ is about, I might have been a bit heartbroken, but I turned it into something cool and fun to listen to despite when analysing the lyrics, it’s not the most fun. It’s quite healing.” 

That raw honesty is what has made Elle’s music strike a chord with a new generation of listeners who value that kind of relatability and desire to put everything out there, giving her a close-knit and devoted following. “It’s incredibly fulfilling,” she smiles. “A lot of them are just girls my age. It feels like a big friend group. We’ll message on Instagram, and the way I speak to them is the way I’d speak to my best friends at home. It makes me feel very comfortable. I feel quite safe in my songs opening up and sharing my personal life with them.” 

As well as building a collection of singles with distance themes and vibes, Elle has a knack for placing her songs in a unique visual world and aesthetic where she revels in capturing the imagery and vibe of the moment, from the ice cream cones and blue skies of ‘Summer’ to the saloon bar country of ‘Lost Cowboy’. 

“I’m quite multi-faceted creatively,” she says. “If I’m listening to a song and I really like it, I’ll get music video ideas, and then I’ll just make it. That’s what happened with ‘Lost Cowboy’. I had a note on my phone, and usually, they stay in my notes app, and nothing comes of it, but I was thinking, ‘I AM THE KID; I AM THE COWBOY’. I love Taylor Swift and thought it would be a ‘You Belong With Me’ kind of thing where I’m playing both characters. I didn’t think I’d actually be able to get to do it. I thought it would take longer to do a music video. I love creating these worlds. The more there is around the music, the more it gives you a bigger insight into the whole universe of it. I like to be really involved.” 

It feels like a good moment for an artist like Elle Coves right now as pop embraces a more organic and rich sound. Something Elle recognises in one of her key touchstones and someone else who’s having quite the moment in 2024 who shares a key tenet of what drives Elle Coves in her music. “Noah Kahan is a huge inspiration for me,” she says. “I think he’s incredible. The thing I connect with the most is his authenticity and rawness. That’s something I love to see in pop music. Just being really true to who you are because I feel that’s what people connect with the most.” 

Taken from the March 2024 issue of Dork.

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