Introducing The Next Generation Of Leaders And Thinkers

In Conversation with Elle Winter: Radio Disney Alum, ‘After Party’ Actress & Ivy League Student

Elle Winter is a skilled and ambitious pop star who’s been in the music and film industry from an early age. With the release of debut EP, Yeah No, I got the chance to catch up with Elle to discuss her experiences, background and driving factors.

Helen Ehrlich: Who are your main influences (musically, and otherwise)?
Elle Winter: Musically, my biggest influences are Bruno Mars for his incredible stage presence and musicality, Stevie Wonder who, just from listening and studying his music, teaches me so much, and Ed Sheeran for his precision and stunning songwriting. Strong, outspoken female artists like Avril Lavigne, Fergie, and Britney Spears have also really inspired me to become a pop singer growing up.

Elle for Radio Disney in 2012 via Rocky Coast News

HE: You got a big start in Radio Disney’s “Next Big Thing” contest at just 13-years-old! How have you handled the pressures of stardom from a very young age? Have they felt like pressures?
EW: Getting my start at a young age did give me unique responsibilities, but I found they inspired and motivated me. I learned how to prioritize my time and learned the impact of my voice, which did not add pressure but passion and direction to my career.

HE: How did you cope with the watchful eyes of entering a high-pressure environment from an early age? When did you start performing?
EW: I am super close with my family and their consistent support and encouragement really helped me during the start of my career. I was always performing, singing for anyone who would listen — at family functions, school talent shows, etc. At age 13, I went on a national tour with Radio Disney’s “Next Big Thing.”

HE: You took the stage at Z100’s Jingle Ball All Access Lounge (alongside names like Louis Tomlinson and Lauv), as well as at performed at KISS 108 and KTUPHORIA (with the Jonas Brothers, Ellie Goulding and Bebe Rexha). How do you prepare to perform?
EW: For those shows, I performed with dancers so we usually have several rehearsals to go over choreography. I also like to work with my vocal coach to keep my voice in shape for tours and performances, comparable to going to the gym! I’ll go over special moments to incorporate with my musical director and try to figure out ways to reinvent the recorded versions of my songs and make them unique for the live show.

Elle at Z100’s Jingle Ball, image via Zimbio

HE: You opened for Why Don’t We. What was the experience like?  Do you think you will tour independently someday? How do you think it will differ?  
EW: I have had the opportunity to open for Why Don’t We at a number of radio shows. It was so fun and I’d love to support them one day on an extended tour! Their fans are so passionate and incredible and every show was always super energetic.

Headlining a tour would be incredible, it is amazing to support other great acts because I can meet new people but headlining a tour would be another exciting opportunity for me.

HE: How do you cope with feeling overwhelmed?
EW: I work out to help me de-stress and stay present.

HE: You attend The University of Pennsylvania, which is an incredibly rigorous institution. How do you balance your academics at an Ivy League school, with your growing music and acting career?
EW: I had learned to prioritize and juggle school and my career beginning in middle school. I actually found my college professors to be even more accommodating and enthusiastic than my high school teachers about my endeavors! The most challenging part was being in Philadelphia when most of my work is either in LA or NYC.


HE: You were named Elvis Duran’s Artist of the Month and KIIS FM’s Next Up Artist in 2018, what does this mean to you?
EW: It was a huge compliment! Being from New York City, I grew up listening to Z100 and Elvis Duran, so it was surreal to be chosen as his artist of the month and to have his continued support. Similarly, it was an honor to be chosen at KIIS FM’s Next Up Artist and have their support as well!

Image courtesy of Elle Winter’s team at The Orchard

HE: You acted in The After Party with KYLE, as well as 3 Generations with Susan Sarandon, Elle Fanning and Naomi Watts. How does acting fit with the rest of your goals?
EW: I find that music and acting complement each other, given they are both crafts based on empathy and connecting with others. When I’m embodying a character, I find a way to connect to their story and honor it. Similarly, by writing about and honoring my experiences in an honest and vulnerable way, I hopefully connect with my listeners.

HE: How did growing up in New York City impact your path in life? Did it make your dreams feel less unrealistic?
EW: Growing up in NYC played a huge role in my career. There were so many outlets for me to be creative. Being surrounded by so many artistic people, being able to take acting courses and vocal lessons was very inspiring.

HE: How would you describe your vision for your future?
EW: I hope to continue to challenge myself and release the most authentic and genuine work and connect with others. I think music is incredibly powerful. In a time where we all seem to present our best selves to the world and focus on what differentiates us, music is the one escape where we let our guard down and focus on what connects us as human beings.

How long have you been working on this album?
I have been working on it for the past two years. I signed to Sony Music and The Orchard based on this body of work and began a waterfall release of a few of the songs last May 2019. In the meantime, I finished my freshman year and first semester of sophomore year at The University of Pennsylvania.
How does this album compare to your past works?
This project really embraces all aspects of who I am as an artist. I finally reached a point where I was able to release a body of work that reflects my many years of working on my sound and style. This project embodies all the elements of the music I love — it’s not limited to one direction or style. From the soulful influences to the organic aspects of every song, it is a unique blend of the music that shaped me as the artist I am today.

What is the message you’re trying to send with this piece?
I want people to hear my music and feel strength. Whether that’s from listening to a song like the title track “Yeah, No,” which is about being fine on your own, or “Thought of Me,” which is about owning every part of who you are, each song is empowering in its own right.
Elle Winter is simply a hard worker. She sees chances, and she takes them. She hasn’t wasted a single moment, experience or opportunity in the industry during her very long tenure in media. Her latest album Yeah, No. is the culmination of her efforts and can be streamed everywhere.

Feature image courtesy of Elle Winter’s team at The Orchard (SONY), Damien Blue

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