The queer DJ-producer icon talks her forthcoming album, Prism of Pleasure, feeling liberated on London’s dancefloors and her spellbinding live show.

On the morning of the day in which she’ll announce her debut album, Prism of Pleasure, Elkka is mulling over the moment’s significance with understandable apprehension. Gripped with the excitement of letting people hear its final iteration, the producer, DJ and artist has her hands wrapped around a cup of Earl Grey tea; the floral and lemony taste helping her brain to function after a busy week of gigging. 


“It’s a lot. It’s good, though. I’ve been waiting for this to start. I guess I’m ready for it to get going,” she explains in a series of short answers. There’s no wonder as to why caution creeps in: Prism of Pleasure is her most personal and authentic expression to date. Releasing on Ninja Tune, the iconic label and home of fellow electronic-adjacent superstars like Bonobo and Floating Points, the record brings freedom to the fore, exploring all avenues of curiosity that emerged in its two-year creation. 


Introspecting queer sensuality and vulnerability, Elkka structures the album like a labyrinth, taking listeners in unexpected directions, through different corridors of self-discovery and emotional connectedness. Working with sex and sensuality expert Oli Lipski educated her further on pleasure in all its forms, equipping the songwriter with a better understanding of people’s intimate experiences. “Enjoyment of sex can still be taboo, for women, for queer people. So, I wanted to explore that deeper. I still think they can be side-lined,” she affirms, taking another sip from her mug. 

On ‘Passionfruit’, the nine-minute instrumental odyssey released last month, Elkka teams up with pianist and composer John Carroll Kirby, who’s previously worked with the likes of Frank Ocean and Yves Tumor. Born out of improvisation, the track meanders between twinkling classical composition, euphoric ambience and shimmering techno. Walking home from the recording session, she had this overwhelming feeling that the track was too beautiful to tamper with, although acknowledged the risk releasing a song of such length brings.


Elkka’s infatuation with dance music blossomed after moving to London in her 20s. She avidly recalls exploring the club spaces and genres that made her feel comfortable, revelling in those moments of intimacy that happen on the dancefloor. Having grown up in south Wales, repressing her sexuality and trying to crack the industry as a songwriter, discovering the capital’s LGBTQ+ electronic community was a liberating moment. 


Making this album now in her 30s, Elkka pulls from all her experiences over the last decade. On the record, she rediscovers a desire to use her own voice, seeking empowerment from the vulnerability such an act can bring. I started as a singer, writing top lines for people, but when I started to produce, I shut that away,” she says, before adding, “partly as a self-protection mechanism but also because I really wanted to focus on production and I couldn’t quite do both at the same time.”

It was in 2019 when Elkka stepped out from behind the decks and in front of a sea of synthesisers and keyboards, announcing herself as a fully-fledged live act. Since then, she’s added a microphone and tested out material from Prism of Pleasure to unbeknownst crowds up and down the country, playing notable venues like Colour Factory and All Points East. Dynamic visuals, a moody light spectacle and the artist’s compelling presence showcase a natural performer, but behind the veneer of confidence reveals issues that all touring musicians face nowadays. 


“I have to be really selective about what I do, my live show has evolved a lot while flights, hotels and transport are all so expensive,” she admits. Playing queer parties, I’m not there to make money. I’m there to be part of the scene and contribute. That’s where I feel most at home and most happy as a raver, but I have to do less of them now, which is a shame”.


DJing doesn’t arouse the same problems, but Elkka rightly raises the issues posed by club etiquette, as more people clutch onto their phones in a bid to capture a moment rather than taking a minute to be present. Understandably, it’s tough for the onlooking selector, to see floods of lights instead of faces filled with joy. However, and thankfully so, not all spaces and parties pose such issues: “If you’re in the right crowd, it’s even more special [now], people are very patient, people are willing to go somewhere with you, they’re not in a rush.”

Clearly, Elkka values indulgence. It’s a trait she’s keenly researched on previous projects, like Every Body Is Welcome, which was written in an ode to the queer roots of dance music and finding herself in their modern-day continuance. Released on femme culture, ELKKA’s sprawling record label and club night imprint, the EP starts with a poignant vocal sample, where someone articulates their connections to the dancefloor, before unleashing into an acid-laced four-to-the-floor jam. As a raver, the Cardiff native believes there’s something to be said about the lack of safe spaces for people to express themselves nowadays. Harking back fondly to the origins of house music may seem like a trivial argument against club spaces in their contemporary forms, but the freedom it brought so many can’t be understated. And as she quite rightly points out, those feelings can be hard to come by.


“Those moments for me are quite rare. I went to Or:la’s club night month’s ago, and as a queer person, you feel safe and free in spaces like that, but I think those nights are really few and far between. When you do get them you realise how rare they actually are and how important they are. So I’d like to see more of that being available for people.”

Maybe, with the help of her debut album, these moments can live eternally, played on loop through headphones or home stereos. Nothing replicates the dynamic intensity of the club, but Prism of Pleasure’s emancipating atmospheria and brooding electronica pushes passion and eroticism in such a way that feels liberating: like the act of frailing arms in the air in response to a rapturous techno drop. It’s a sentiment that’s inherent in all aspects of Elkka’s growing electronic empire, from the live sets to the album releases: I wanted this record to be very personal. It’s a debut album and I take that very seriously. It’s not all just joy and good times, the album goes into heartbreak too. I’m really proud of what’s come out.”

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