Coming up with the song-list and order for the album was the toughest part of creating "Love Fuelled Hate". I wasn't just looking for my best songs, I was looking for songs that stuck to the storyline. I had pages and pages of lyrics, I remember sitting in my old bedroom in my parents house trying to order the songs in an A4 folder as if I was trying to read a story and on the side I had a bullet-point list of the film-script I was creating alongside it. I was so anal about it all, I must have listened and read the lyrics for 5 hours. I really wanted the "love" side to be 22mins 22 seconds and the "hate" side to be 22mins 22 secs but in the end I decided there were more important factors than numerology.
The benefit of not having a label was that I didn't have anyone else interfering, but it was also a curse because I had to be objective about something that was so deeply personal to me plus I had to self-fund it all take full responsibility for every decision. If this thing turned out to be crap I'd only have myself to blame. I wasn't overly concerned with whether the album would be popular, but I put myself underimmense pressure to make something I'd be proud of in years to come. It was definitely something I hoped future fans might choose to go back and listen to and fall in love with down the line. Something "of it's time" yet "timeless". Something fully considered. A "work of art" maybe even a "masterpiece" that may not be understood right now but might one day. I wanted to be able to reject any criticism in the knowledge that I'd done the best I could at that point in my life, and I know I achieved that.
Getting back to the song-list. I had to decide which songs were gonna make the cut before I got in the studio because I couldn't afford studio-time for songs that weren't going to be used. "You Said You Loved Me" was a song that was really close to making the cut but didn't quite make it. You can hear a sneak-preview of it in an interlude at the end of Track 9 "Lie To Me" before Track 10 "Hammer". I think the reason for it getting cut was mainly because it was so unfinished compared to the other demos I had. But check out this never-before-heard unreleased recording (note, this is an unfinished rough demo):
I might not have had a label, but thankfully I had a manager that really cared. I called him at 10pm after finishing the song-listing and invited him to my cold-empty house to listen to the whole album (excluding the yet to be recorded interludes intros/outros). I hadn't played the album to anyone and was super anxious and I had to verbalise what was gonna happen in each interlude. He was able to take everything I said and help me to formalise a plan for what needed to be recorded to connect the songs before taking it to Joe Kearns to get mixed. Thankfully he loved it. Here's a video of our 3 hour meeting condensed! Love you Umong <3
I wrote "I Do" for the love-side of my "Love Fuelled Hate" album on a cold Winter's day in Rob Davis's old home-studio in Surrey. Rob's famous for having been in a 1970s glam-rock band called Mud (hits include "Tiger Feet" and "Lonely This Christmas") and also wrote major hits like "Can't Get You Out of My Head" - Kylie, "Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)" - Spiller, "Toca's Miracle" - Fragma. I kept my awe under-wraps but I was totally mind-blown to be working with such a songwriting icon.
The original demo Rob Davis and I made.
We started with an eerie yet angelic cathedral-choir and delayed guitar loop that Rob had already been playing with. The idea of marriage was at the top of my mind with my brother and best friend both due to have weddings that year so when I heard Rob's loop I couldn't help but imagine what it'd feel like to be stood behind the door of my own wedding one day.
Keeping a level of sonic-synergy across the album was really important to me. Once I finalised the song-list some of the tracks needed further production to reach that sonic-synergy goal. With "I Do" I really wanted to capture my emotion in it's raw state and strip the song back but also keep it creative, electronic and experimental. I headed into the studio with my album producer Ross O'Reilly and we started from scratch. I got in the vocal booth and sang completely a'cappella (no click/metronome, no chords, no instrumentation whatsoever). My vocal swayed in and out of time and it felt really natural and intimate. I'm obsessed with vocoders and in love with vocoder-based songs like Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek" and Bon Iver's "Woods", so we ended up taking the vocal and played it through a keyboard and Pro-Tools plugins..I think we used a combination of Razor, Melodyne and Little Altar Boy. Ross and I chatted about adding other instrumentation but in the end anything extra would take away from the natural energy we'd captured and take away from the honest intimacy of the song.
Listen to some of the influences including Bon Iver, Imogen Heap and Broken Social Scene below. And of course the song itself "I Do".
Buy my album "Love Fuelled Hate" featuring "I Do" below.
If you've already got it, why not buy it for a friend?
I directed, edited and produced my “Lost in L.A.” music video and even did a little of the motion-graphics. People often think my videos are high-budget and presume I don't have much involvement - but that's just an illusion I like to create. There were so many mad stories leading up to the shoot and following it, I don't think I'll have time to share them all here but let me start with the first step.
The first step was buying all the props including:
- a mini-bike (£12 off eBay BARGAIN - see video below)
- electronic planes (Amazon Bargain - painted by me)
- a mattress (Thanks to Gumtree!)
- American beer (imported crates of Pabst Blue Ribbon)
- 6ft inflatable palm tree drinks cooler (it’s now gone to palm-tree heaven after one too many parties 😞)
- Jeroboam of Jack Daniels (hey Jack where’s my endorsement?)
- Astronaut helmet (handmade by to Richard Johnston - video below)
- 3 x 3m by 3m canvasses (Thanks to the guy at Homebase for giving me the wooden pallets for free - see more below)
to name a few.
The next task was to find people to be in the video. I went searching in Notting Hill and handpicked a few people I’d wanna party with. The absolute star of the shoot was Alfie - the man in the blue t-shirt with the serious moves! I found him dancing in Portobello Market with a dummy in his mouth and a sparkly boombox at his feet. I invited him to the shoot but never expected him to show up; but he did! There was another guy who was a no-show sadly - he was about 70, was sat on a low-rider bike and claimed to be the singer from a sample in a J-Lo song. But the most upsetting was that I saw this absolutely gorgeous old lady with pink hair and a seriously glamorous style of fashion - I fell in love but was so stunned I got shy and didn't approach her. I ended up leaving a note for her in the florist she regularly shopped at but it was all a little too late and I never saw her again.
On the day of the shoot we were a little short of people (there are always loads of cancellations when you're doing a low-budget shoot). It was a bit of a meat-fest so a couple of my male friends (let’s call them AA and AS) went to try and find some girls. They were walking the streets in Hackney and found a couple of cute ladies who agreed to get involved. Delighted AA and AS told them to get in the car and they’d drive to the shoot…the girls asked “Really can’t we just walk there?” AA and AS said “it’ll be quicker if we drive, but whatever you want?” so the girls got in the car but were obviously a bit skeptical. When they arrived the music was blaring, but the shoot was hidden behind a white screen. There was a mattress in plain view and lots of interesting characters sitting on the floor drinking alcohol. Apprehensive, the girls decided to have a smoke. But when my friend Andy walked outside in full white-makeup, wearing a white boiler-suit the girls apparently sprinted away in fear and never looked back. 😳😆
After the shoot everyone was smashed (except my manager who was assisting and driving). We loaded the van but were waiting for someone to come with the keys to lock up when out of the blue one of the crew yelled to us “someone just drove off with your van!”. We could see it pulling away in the distance so my manager started chasing it..he stopped for a second nearly giving up but I yelled "KEEP RUNNING" and I've never seen him move so fast! Comically every time he got close the van would slow down and then drive off again. In the end it turned out it was my friends playing a prank, but it’d be fair to say not everyone found it funny at the time 😂
The night ended with people making-out, wild dancing, friends going missing, lost house keys and a bouncer trying to beat one of my bandmates up. High-action, high-drama and and I can't lie it was probably one of the best nights of my life. The video summed it up perfectly.
Thanks to everyone who made it possible, especially Michael Hobdell.
"Lost in L.A." started everything off for me. I'd "moved" to London to chase my dream as a singer but couldn't afford to live anywhere and had been searching for a room for months. My friend Clare called me one day and asked if I wanted to go to Los Angeles with her, whilst I wasn't paying rent I'd saved up a bit of cash and could afford it so I immediately said "YES!".
When we landed in L.A. a man came up to us and asked "Do you know where the lost property is?" I said "No, do you know where the taxi rank is?" and then he asked where we were headed...at this point I realised he stank of alcohol, had a black eye and looked out of his mind on something. Trying to be "street-wise" I answered cautiously that we were going to Hollywood somewhere, he said "ME TOO! Let's get a cab together, it's this way". I looked at Clare expecting her to say "no"..but to my surprise she smiled and said "Yeah! Let's do it". So, we got to know each other in the queue and in the cab. It turned out this guy had come to Los Angeles on holiday, found a girl, spent every day in a hotel room getting messed-up with her and then when he went to leave she stole his phone and he didn't notice until he was getting on the plane. The way he told me the story was that he'd spent the week in his hotel room with this girl and they'd fallen madly in love and the fact that his phone was missing was a sign that he should never leave Los Angeles, so when he was sitting on his flight ready to go home - he changed his mind and decided to go back to Hollywood to find his girl. He borrowed the cab drivers phone and literally was talking to a lady at T-mobile saying "Please I can't remember my security information, but I fell in love with a girl, can you just tell me where the GPS of my phone is signalling?!". It's either insane or romantic..or maybe insanely romantic.
That story came from the first 10 minutes in Los Angeles, but every single day some other madness happened and the trip was a bit of an awakening for me. I became open to everything. When I was flying into Los Angeles I'd connected to WiFi and contacted everyone I knew asking if they wanted to meet up or if they knew anyone that might want to collaborate with me. Ron Entwistle introduced me to Tony Maserati at Mirrorball Entertainment and within an hour of arriving I'd set-up cowrites with Jon Castelli (worked with Jason Derulo, Beyonce, Lady Gaga to name a few) and Kevin Hastings (shared the stage with people like Rihanna, Jay-Z and Eminem again to name a few!).
I wrote "Lost in L.A." with Jon Castelli and his friend Aaron Joseph. As I mentioned before on the "Lie To Me" blog, I don't really like talking about the meaning of my songs, but this song was clearly inspired by everything that happened on that trip. I loved working with Jon and Aaron on it and was so happy with how it turned out. Also - the little lesson of reaching out to people and learning to ask them if they wanted to collaborate was a life changer for me, I came back to the UK and did the same thing and started writing with loads of friends and other amazing writers and producers. "Lost in L.A." was the song I was sending to everyone at that stage and how I got people to understand my style. The whole "Love Fuelled Hate" album wouldn't have existed had I not learned how to put myself out there - I got my band, my manager and my first sync-deal from that song (it was on a Google advert).
The video was a whole other story, which I'll definitely tell you about tomorrow!
- Elle xx
I wanted the artwork to represent the album..and what better way than to create an image of me literally fuelling a hate-car with love?!
I met with my friend Colin J Smith (who directed my "Lately" music video) and we knocked ideas around and shared inspiration. I was keen to create something surreal and use a neon-rainbow as the colour palette. He introduced me to an amazing artist known as DelaDeso who combines photos and drawings with a colourful grimy style. We were totally on the same page.
The next task was to get some photos. We had an amazing shoot in a friends studio in Knebworth on probably the hottest day of the year (32degC!) and hired a petrol pump for the day (definitely going in my list of weirdest things I've ever rented).
We trawled through hundreds of pictures from the shoot and of gas-stations around Los Angeles (where the album is set), and landed on the two that you see on the cover. Colin and I spent hours at his studio drawing up the hate car and blending the two images and then handed it across to Digital Light for the finishing touches.
This month there'll be some guest posts from fans, friends and exxterminators to celebrate the anniversary of my album "Love Fuelled Hate". The following was written by my amazing manager Umong Shah about his favourite track on the album "White Lies".
- Elle xx
This month is really exciting, it marks the anniversary of an album that is very close to me. It's the first full length album that I've had the pleasure of working on really closely with Elle. Throughout the creation of the artwork, I could genuinely feel the creativity and passion oozing out. It was infectious.
I want to write about ‘White Lies’ if you follow Elle’s Snapchat and Instagram, you'll have noticed throughout the year that whenever the song is played live, I make a big deal out of it. There’s something about this song that speaks to me and puts me in a little trance. The song has a really strong pulse, set by the kick drum pattern that mimics a heart beat. During the verse I just want to sway side to side, listening to Elle tell a story about the collapse of a once loved relationship (or at least that's my interpretation of it).
As we enter into the chorus, you get some iconic metaphorical imagery within Elle’s lyrics, some of which are my favourite, as they paint such a strong visual when you hear them.
The chorus then kicks in with beautiful instrumentation and charismatic songwriting, which just makes me want to sing along out loud (and I do at gigs). The ‘breakdown’, is gorgeous. The gospel vocal backing with the big drum beat surges through, making you want to join it, with all your passion. When Elle plays this live the whole room gets involved, it's like you're transported out of a venue into Elle's world, you close your eyes, sing together and for that moment, there's unity, nothing matters, because it's just you (and the collective audience) and the song.
Watching this song live, takes my breath away. I think that it means so much to me because a lot of us have been in this position. I know I have. Where love breaks down, your insides hurt, and it's hard to communicate. But this song does it so well and lines like “landed safe upon my side” and “But I’mma be a better person than you ever could” show there's a light at the end of a dwindling relationship tunnel.
Love fuels hate..
When I started working on my album I wanted to create something I’d be proud of in 20 years time no matter it’s popularity - something I knew had been fully considered and was the best thing I could produce at the time of my life when I was creating it.
I was writing conflicting songs every day, one would be about love and the other would be about hate, one would be soft, one would be hard. I went into a songwriting hang with my friend Charlie Elwess (cowrote “Lately”, “Sick” and “WTF”) and was telling him how I was worried that the album was pulling in opposing directions, but he saw that as a positive..we talked it over and the conversation reminded me of where I started when I decided I wanted to do a solo-artist project.
When I decided to be an artist I was obsessed with opposites and contradiction, in fact it was my whole mantra and vision and it gave meaning to everything I was doing. On day one I wrote “Through the art-of-contradiction Elle Exxe will inspire people to care for each other no matter what race, sex, sexuality, disability, life-experience, social-class, religion, beliefs or community they are part of.” To me the art-of-contradiction is defined as using contrasting view-points or styles and connecting them. My belief is that by highlighting one extreme next to another you can open up a meaningful conversation internally within people and externally within communities. My inspiration has always come from artists who are deemed “controversial” because they show an extreme, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s their personal belief or that they won’t change and do the opposite later - it's just what they're doing "right now" and it can change society - just look at Roy Lichtenstein, John Waters, or even Eminem or Lady GaGa. It’s self-sacrificial art to open peoples minds and help people to talk (which is what I believe is an artists duty). Anyway..I digress..
Back to “Love Fuelled Hate” - the concept was about “Love” and “Hate”. Hate often doesn't exist without love existing first, so in this story love fuels hate. There are 7 tracks on the “Love” side and 7 tracks on the “Hate” side. Every song had to be connected so that the album could be listened to as a whole piece. I wrote a film script at the same time, so all the songs connected into a storyline (I still want to make this film one day - it'd be like a John Waters/Wes Anderson/Nadia Lee Cohen vibe based in Los Angeles). The story essentially takes you on a journey from lust to love and commitment then through betrayal, hate and fury before acceptance. The finale “Understand” was really important to me because it meant the journey could begin at love again. I’ve always felt like once you can understand why someone hurt you it can be easier to accept, move forward and return to love and warmth again. It also marked a musical change in my style and hints towards what’s coming next.
Tonight I've chosen to perform my song Home With You at the MusicGateway Launch party as part of my Love Fuelled Hate celebrations. Stay tuned from around 7:30pm www.facebook.com/musicgateway
Also "Home With You" is currently in the Salute Top 100, vote for it to win via Facebook Messenger and I could win £50,000 towards my music! Click here to go to Facebook Messenger and start voting.
Line of Best Fit said:
"It's a bolshy pop belter with one toe in electroclash and another in swaggering neo-soul. There's gallons of confidence in her vocals as she sings of love gone awry. Replete with jerky synth stabs, calamitous basslines and beats that tumble, "Lie To Me" is a huge song that's ready for dancefloors, and one that won't wait to be to be given permission to enter your lives, but rather storm in and force you to move."
I’m gonna stick with “Lie To Me” for a minute, it might have been the most loved single from the album so let me share the story with you.
It’s a little-known fact that I was a featured vocalist in a band called Bleach Blood back in 2015. The band was formed and fronted by lead singer/guitarist Jamie Jazz (ex The King Blues). At the time I was involved all the recordings were done by Jamie’s friend Sam Eyes.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, I wrote “Lie To Me” with Sam and Jamie. I reached out to them with my song “Lost in L.A.” and a Spotify Playlist of my influences at that point and asked them if they wanted to get involved and collaborate on a song together. It goes without saying, they were down for it and we all got in a studio together.
This is the point where I should probably tell you what the inspiration behind the song was but I don’t believe in revealing song meanings, it can ruin any sincere relationship someone might have with the song..#sorrynotsorry.
But..I can tell you a fun-fact: the song was originally titled “You Don’t Matter” but I decided to change it after received one too many emails with the subject-line “YOU DON’T MATTER” (not nice). I should really create a song titled "I love you so much", that'd make my inbox look a little more welcoming.
Lie To Me (album version)
Lie To Me (single version)
The original single mix was done by Des Lambert but the album version was by Joe Kearns and features the original extended intro (this is the way the song was before it was released as a single). At the end of the album version you hear me walking and listening to "You Said You Loved Me" (an unreleased song I wrote with the lead producer of the album Ross O'Reilly) before breaking down the door of my ex's flat (sound design by Will Tonna).
As well as producing the original version, Sam (aka EYES) went on to produce one of the remixes (video below) - it's one of my favourite remixes I've ever had made. It beautifully captures the sadness of the song and I'm always a sucker for sampled vocals...especially when it sounds like they say "You know me you c*nt, you know that you are" 😉
See you back here same time tomorrow,
p.s. Sam and I have been back in the studio and I've been loving it. Got some killer music coming for you soon x
“Lie To Me” was the first single and video I released from “Love Fuelled Hate”. With almost everything I've created I get a crazy ambitious idea but then have to find a way to make it on a shoe-string budget. I sent my friend and insanely talented director Nate Camponi the song, a mood-board and a brief and we bounced ideas back and forth for a few weeks. In the end many friends were called and favours brought in but it’s a total miracle that Nate Camponi, his team and I were able to pull this off!
My manager and I left London at 7am with 2 suitcases filled with clothes and drove up to Manchester where we’d been given access to an incredible film studio. It was a seriously impressive sight when we arrived and saw the car and all the lights for the first time.
Shooting in a real-life city with neon lights at night would've been virtually impossible, especially on my budget..so we faked it by taking the car into a film-studio (see the behind-the-scenes video below). There were people vigorously shaking the car to make it look like it was moving, others artfully swinging lights to make it look like we were passing through tunnels and someone with a handheld water-spray to give the illusion of rain. Honestly I can't thank the crew enough!
The video and photos below pretty much tell the whole story - excluding the fact we ate nothing and didn't get home til after 4am...in fact, we nearly didn't get back at all with my manager driving on the wrong side of the road, picking up speeding tickets and going through red lights. But as I said, this whole shoot was a miracle!
I can't believe it - this month marks the 1 year anniversary of my debut album "Love Fuelled Hate". I see it as an underground secret that new people are discovering every day. With that in mind, I wanted to celebrate with a month-long anniversary sharing daily stories of the process of making and releasing it - especially for those who maybe haven't heard of me before and don't know my story, but also for those who want to have a more in-depth relationship with this concept album.
Return to this page every day at 6pm for a new story.