Interview: Elle Winston Talks Transitioning From the Midwest and EP Uncertainty
Indiana-raised and Arizona bred, the new New Yorker Lauren “Elle” Winston fuses folk and soul to blend sublime harmony. The soul singer’s latest EP dropped this past January, titled Uncertainty, performed at a Hot 97 showcase and has an upcoming show at SOB’s on March 31st, in the midst of making her premiere video for Waitin’ On. Previously fronting for an Afro-Cuban/Afro-Brazilian band and singing for a rare groove funk band in Phoenix, Ms. Winston has proven her versatility but doesn't plan to stop there. We spoke with the songstress on transitioning into life and music from the southwest to the Big Apple and where she sees herself in a year.
Your latest project is titled Uncertainty. Did you choose that title because you were uncertain in life? Or do you feel that’s a subject most young adults can relate to?
The first title I chose was Transition. That was the first word that came to mind when I was putting together tracks for the album. When I first moved [to New York] I didn't have a job, I didn't know where I would end up living, or where I would work, how long it would take me to start performing – I didn't know anything. So it was a huge transition in my life. Then I looked at the way the songs were developing. My Black was an identity uncertainty; Waitin’ On was a career uncertainty. I’m in my late 20s. I don’t know where I’m going necessarily or where things will take me. So [the title] came from this internal strife.
How long have you lived here?
A year and a half. I had a couple of acquaintances but I didn't have any friends here. The first six months I was getting myself together and I thought, “Let me get a job and a place to live”. I was writing [songs] but it was nine months before I had my first gig. It’s a work in progress [but] I try to use my free time to be serious about writing my music. I told myself when I first moved here I wanted to perform at SOB’s and a year later I made that happen.
Do you feel people are more receptive [to your music] in Arizona or New York?
When I was in Arizona I was singing in bands. I didn't start performing my own music until the year before I left. Surprisingly, Arizona has a really great music scene. People are very receptive because anything new is exciting and in New York people are like “eh”. But I had a gig at SOB’s last month and I was floored at how many people approached me and took time to say how much they enjoyed my performance.
Your second project Uncertainty was released two years after your first titled Who Said It Was Simple? Was the break intentional?
No, it was something that just happened. The first project was recorded with live instrumentals. That’s the sound I wanted. When I moved I took a little time to get things together. Because I didn't know many musicians and I didn't have many connections [when I moved to New York], the current project is a lot more produced. But my writing has improved. I was able to grow a lot. I was utterly proud at the way the sound came out.
Where would you like to be in a year?
In a year, I would like to have a full-length album and play festivals; travel more.