When it’s ELHAE’s turn on stage, he shines.
Seemingly poised and always commanding, the Atlanta artist’s celebrity among fans is a contrasting, yet genuine extension of his person backstage.
Right now, it’s a Tuesday night in Atlanta’s Little Five Points neighborhood, one of the various epicenters of culture in the southern metropolis.
One of the creative minds to draw inspiration from this scene is Auriel Oates, a student in the city who’s currently putting on her first concert, “The Art of Listening,” and ELHAE is her headliner.
The show is the latest venture of the 21-year old’s “Art of Metanoia” brand, created to unite the talent embedded in Atlanta, a fitting purpose for a show featuring one of the voices responsible for Atlanta’s reviving R&B scene.
“I think it’s important for us to find ways to consume art that helps us actually appreciate it,” says Oates. “We chose this particular lineup because we felt it spoke for the up-and-coming talent we hope to represent.”
Backstage Auriel and ELHAE exchange words as the showrunner makes sure the 26-year old singer and rapper doesn’t need anything else
He jokingly throws an excessive demand her way, lightening the mood before turning his attention towards me for a quick chat.
Our first official introduction to ELHAE on the site came around this time last year on the heels of the arrival of his All Have Fallen project, his first full-length release under Atlantic Records.
Since then, he’s delivered his AURA II EP, a follow-up to his well-received AURA of 2015, and enjoyed a busy ‘summer seventeen’ on tour alongside rapper/singer blackbear.
The Source: When you were creating All Have Fallen, you cited Because the Internet and 808s & Heartbreak as inspiration. Fast forward to today, what was the inspiration behind Aura II?
ELHAE: “There wasn’t much of a musical direction for Aura II. I just wanted to put music out for fans. It started just as an idea—just something to throw out.
I had a lot of songs from All Have Fallen that I just didn’t use. So, I was just going to recycle those songs just to put something out for the fans, you know?
I remember posting a snippet of one of the songs on Instagram, and a fan commented something like ‘This sounds like some Aura II vibes’ and I was just like ‘That’s an idea.” Well, I’ll just name this next project Aura II. ”
While we’re still on influences, let’s shift gears a bit. You were raised in the church. You’ve previously hopped on tracks with Trip Lee, Andy Mineo. With all that in mind, how would you comment on the emergence of spirituality —
“I think it’s dope, I think it’s refreshing. I remember back in the day when I was coming up, those two worlds didn’t mix at all. It was like vinegar and whatever that’s not vinegar. It didn’t mix.
It’s dope to see guys like Kendrick and Chance, a couple of other people who are mixing both worlds. It’s dope to see Kirk Franklin come out on a Chance the Rapper song. It’s dope to see Lecrae work with Ty Dolla $ign.
I’ve always been the type of person to be like Jesus went out to the people. He didn’t go to the church to preach. He went out. It’s dope to see those worlds collide. I guarantee you there are Chance the Rapper fans that didn’t know God before and they’re like “Who is this God he keeps talking about?”
You’re introducing people to a higher power. I only believe in one higher power which is God. I think it’s a good thing for sure. ”
Do you see yourself infusing that element in your music more?
“I’ve always done that. The last couple of years I’ve been more on the R&B tip. A lot of my stuff in the beginning before Aura, All Have Fallen, Aura II there was definitely a mixture of trying to combine the message with whatever I wanted to say at the time.
That never leaves me. It’s embedded in me. I don’t know anything else but that. Right now, I don’t ever go into music like ‘This is what I’m going to talk about’, it just happens. So, I can’t say immediately when that will happen.
In a lot of the stuff I already do, it seeps into the music someway. I’ll say a line that’s dedicated to something that happened in church or something like that.”
You recently tweeted out that you may drop something off before 2018. How accurate is that information as of right now?
“It’s very accurate. We already have the single. We have two singles actually. But, the first one, we’re getting the business side worked out right now. That will come out and then the project will come out.”
What is it sounding like?
“It’s still on the R&B vibe. What I’ve been on. Especially the single, it’s like a sexy vibe.”
Gotta go to the ladies, right?
“Gotta hit the ladies, man.”