One of three Nashville artists playing our first in the Next Up concert series — on Wednesday, April 26 at the Brooklyn Bowl — is Elke. The artistic moniker of Kayla Graninger, who’s recently returned to Nashville from the West Coast, Elke released an EP last year and visited WNXP to talk to Emily Young about her craft, her love for this city, and a dream musical collaborator.
Check out Elke performing at WNXP’s Next Up, next week!
On The Record: A Q&A with Elke
Emily Young: So excited about this show and really that you’re kind of ingrained yourself into the Nashville community. But I have to ask, because you have spent time in other cities. Why Nashville?
Kayla Graninger (Elke): I grew up in the Midwest, outside of Chicago, and I think I kind of miss the air and the way that the trees feel and Nashville kind of does that for me. But it also is a really exciting city with music going on and I think a big sense of community. I just don’t want to be in a fast-paced place anymore. And that’s kind of where my heart is felt. I love traveling to places but to pick your home place, to be somewhere where you feel like you feel enriched not because of like the hustle bustle, is what’s speaking to me right now.
EY: You touched a bit on the community here. Do you have a dream collaboration, whether it’s in Nashville or outside of Music City?
KG: Oh, my gosh, Yes. I really like Kieran Callahan. He produced Genesis Owusu, who I’m obsessed with.
EY: Same. Have you seen him live?
KG: No, I haven’t.
EY: Oh my gosh. It is wild.
KG: I’ve seen so many videos and I’m going to see it this summer.
EY: Yeah, it’s like a theatrical production. It’s kind of mind blowing. He actually did a session in here, too, and it was wild.
KG: That’s so cool.
EY: So, Genesis Owusu is one. Anyone else you want to maybe work with or work alongside?
KG: I moved back here in January, and finally meeting faces that I’ve seen through friends working with friends here. Like I finally get to put names to things. So I feel like I’m going to have 20 responses to this in like five months because there are so many talented people here and they’re also so lovely, which is a big part of me wanting to collaborate with someone. I’m so, like, antsy and anxious and all that. So getting in a room with someone, I want to feel comfortable and feel like we can connect on our talents. And I meet people and I’m like, “You seem cool. I want to get to know you.”
EY: What’s on the horizon? If you can share, what can we expect in the next year?
KG: More music. I don’t think I’m ever going to stop. I think I just need to keep making music and keep putting out music.
EY: So maybe a full length on the way? Wink wink, nudge nudge?
KG: That I don’t know.
EY: Well, what does success look like for you here? Like, how would you define that? What does that feel like, pursuing your dreams and doing what you want to do? Or are there certain goals you’d like to meet?
KG: All of it. I know that I want to play a festival. There are like boxes that you’re like, this would be such a cool thing to achieve as a musician. But overall, like if I look at the end, I want to be able to have built a fan base loves me and I love them. I’ve seen so many artists play live and I’ve seen their fans be so passionate and seeing how much they were able to touch each other’s lives like that actually would probably be the big thing that strikes me.
EY: Have you found that you’ve had some of those experiences while out performing live? Are you starting to notice those connections?
KG: Yes. I just went on tour in South America, and everybody out there is so passionate. I opened for a band — I wasn’t there for me as the main thing, but people learned my words and got to know my setlist and shared it around and that is so cool to love music that much where you’re not just like, “I guess I’ll show up and if they’re cool, that’s cool.” It’s like they went through all of this so they could be present with me and get every drop of the situation that they could. And it’s changed my life in so many ways and I’m thinking about that in my future shows, like I want everybody to feel connected in the way that they taught me that you can be connected.
EY: Well, your latest EP, My Human Experience, covers a lot of ground sonically. You’ve got some like aggro punk stuff going on and then there’s super dreamy kind of like bedroom poppy sounds and just kind of across the board. So a couple questions based off of that one. Who are some of your influences and did you channel very specific people for that EP?
KG: We got a piano and I was playing songs on that, and I think that alone influenced the music. I don’t even know what I was listening to. I feel like for the past like three years, just because of the format of Spotify, I’ve just been like listening to so much different music. I’m trying to get better at listening to everybody’s albums as they come out, so I could feel present with what’s going on and like I’m a part of something.
But yeah, the piano is super influential. I wanted to put out a piece where every song sounded different because I know every time I put out new music, my brain just doesn’t work to have it be like everything flows into the other in a smooth way. I want to feel like it has different genres in it.
EY: So is that really your goal? You never want to kind of be stuck in one sound.
KG: Yeah, totally. I’m exploring.