Alluring pop starlet Elle Winter opens up about working with Disney, Stevie Wonder, relationship drama, and the inspiration behind her passion-fueled bop “Cave In.”
Stream: “Cave In” – Elle Winter
There’s something utterly alluring about rising 20-year-old pop starlet Elle Winter. Her songs are massive and bombastic, brimming with an authenticity and heartfelt intimacy that speaks to her youthful energy and mature worldview. Having already released two stellar, catchy jams this year in “Sick of You” and “Do You,” Elle Winter reveals the full scope of her songwriting prowess in her new song “Cave In,” a pristine explosion of passionate feeling full of memorable lines and heartfelt expression.
Blood shot eyes
From crying all night
Lost my voice from yelling
But we’ll never talk again
Words like knives
Yours and mine
Can’t believe I said them
I wonder if you meant them
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Cave In,” Elle Winter’s latest single of 2019 and the third release off her forthcoming debut EP (out this Fall via RED Music). A New York City native discovered by Disney at age thirteen, Elle Winter has already established herself as a multi-hyphenate singer, songwriter, film actress. She took part in Disney’s “Next Big Thing” program in her early teens, and more recently had roles in the 2015 film Three Generations starring Susan Sarandon, Elle Fanning, and Naomi Watts, and the 2018 Netflix original comedy The After Party.
Yet it’s her blossoming music career, which is still only just beginning, that truly highlights the breadth and depth of Elle Winter’s talent. Collaborating with acclaimed production duo The Orphanage (Demi Lovato, Alessia Cara, Lizzo, The Chainsmokers), Winter has undoubtedly found a powerful platform for her writing and vocal strengths to take off. Her Billboard- and Nylon-premiered singles “Sick of You” and “Do You” wrestle through the turbulence and turmoil of young adulthood while exploring a range of R&B, ’90s dance, and modern electropop influences.
Lying at the center of these songs lies Elle Winter and her massive voice, which shines as bright as ever “Cave In”:
The nights I waited by the phone
For your name to show
But you never called
It took some time to understand
That a second chance
Wouldn’t change it all
Oh, thank god you didn’t run back to me
Oh, thank god you didn’t beg on your knees
You walking away really saved me, I know
That if you said you were sorry
I’d cave in
A gargantuan pop song with a thoughtful message of growth and change, “Cave In” wrestles with the fact that Winter would have returned to a toxic relationship had she been given the opportunity to do so. “Oh, thank god you didn’t run back to me,” she sings in an over-the-top dynamic chorus full of emotional resilience. “Oh, thank god you didn’t beg on your knees. You walking away really saved me, I know that if you said you were sorry, I’d cave in.”
A sincere message about emotional allure, attraction and distraction, “Cave In” is like a really good high school drama. “I wanted to tell this story because I watched my friends and people I love go back to toxic relationships and revisit their past in these vicious cycles,” Winter tells Atwood Magazine. “I would be listening to songs like ‘Back to You’ from Selena Gomez and thinking to myself how often times we can drag out relationships that are unhealthy because initially that seems like a better option than being alone. “Cave In” started with a note I had on my phone that said, “If you had said let’s try again I wouldn’t have said no.” It was written after I saw an ex of mine at an event and realized how we were actually so much better apart.”
Atwood Magazine spoke to Elle Winter about working with Disney, Stevie Wonder, high school (and college) drama, vocal training, and more: Dive into this up-and-coming pop startlet via our interview below, and stream “Cave In” ahead of its official release exclusively on Atwood Magazine!
Stream: “Cave In” – Elle Winter
MEET ELLE WINTER
Atwood Magazine: Thanks for speaking today Elle! To start off, how did you get into songwriting?
Winter: Hi there! Thank you! I’m excited to premiere my single with you guys! I have been singing since I could talk (according to my mom haha)! And songwriting was a natural outcome of my love of singing. I have always loved stories and have a very wild imagination so that prompted my love of songwriting – being able to enhance and highlight a specific moment of my life was fascinating to me. I have dozens of journals that go back to probably when I was in first grade (I still have them and looking at the atrocious spelling is hysterical) where I would write about any and everything, from fictional stories to poems to songs.
Who are your biggest musical influences, and who did you look to in terms of finding inspiration for your own music?
Winter: My biggest musical influences are probably Stevie Wonder, Bruno Mars, Avril Lavigne, Ed Sheeran, and Britney Spears. It’s an eclectic mix, but I grew up listening to female pop stars like Avril and Britney and they definitely inspired me to pursue my own dreams as a young woman in the music industry. And Stevie Wonder is probably my greatest inspiration, given I listen to his music countless times and constantly notice brilliant nuances in his voice. I think he is truly a genius and I learn a lot from listening, playing, and singing his songs. Bruno is an inspiration of mine because of his contagious good energy and vocal prowess. Lastly, Ed Sheeran is such an authentic, genuine artist in every sense and I love the specificity and innovation he devotes to each of his songs. Everything I listen to inspires me—like today I was listening to a RAYE song and it really struck a chord with me, I already wrote three songs inspired by the feeling it gave me! But I pull inspiration from various things, like personal experiences of mine, conversations with my friends and family, watching movies or TV shows, etc.
The spectre of Disney discovery is, I often find, a double-edged sword. How have you strived to stand out as a young artist in the “pop” world?
Winter: I find that Disney does truly incredible things for their artists. I look at artists like Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, and Selena Gomez for example, who all currently have impressive music careers. I think every opportunity you are given is what you make of it (not to quote Hannah Montana’s “Life’s What You Make It”) — Disney provides their talent with a platform and their artists can either use that as a stepping stone to evolve or not. I am very grateful for their support of me since the very beginning, being discovered by them at 12, they provided me with invaluable experience and understanding, going on a national tour and being on television. I am lucky however, in that I have a very clear artistic vision and know what I want my music to articulate and express.
That's absolutely wonderful to hear! Now, you debuted earlier this year with “Do You” and “Sick of You,” the first two singles off your upcoming debut EP. Has the reception to these songs been like anything you expected?
Winter: It’s really inspiring and rewarding to get messages from people who listen to these songs and tell me how they resonate with them. I love listening to my favorite artists and hearing them sing about their real experiences which lets me share a connection with them. That’s why I love music, it allows us to forget our differences for three and a half minutes and connect with each other. So it’s been really exciting to see people connect to these songs and my stories.
Can you talk a bit please about the personal significance of “Do You” and “Sick of You,” and why you debuted with them?
Winter: Yes! I debuted with “Sick of You” and “Do You” because they encompass messages of connection and self-expression. These concepts felt like a fitting way to kick off this new chapter. “Sick of You” was inspired by a genuine connection I shared with someone, that was really special and I actually wrote and recorded it at the end of a trip to Los Angeles where I worked on most of my EP, so that session was filled with a lot of joy and excitement, which is definitely expressed in the song.
“Do You” was written after a long talk with the producers, The Orphanage, about what I want my listeners to know about me and what I stand for. Compared to a lot of the people that surround me, I’ve taken an unconventional path by pursuing a career in music. People may not understand that or are even a bit envious, and feel the need to express their opinion. I wrote this song about me following my dream and passion despite what anyone has to say about it. I want to encourage others to pursue what they are passionate about too!
I wrote this song about me following my dream and passion despite what anyone has to say about it.
What was your experience making this EP? Do they start with beats in a studio, pieces of paper in your bedroom, or somewhere in-between?
Winter: Definitely somewhere in-between. I’m always writing ideas and concepts down so when I get to the studio I’ll usually pull out my phone and scroll through my notes. Or sometimes I get to the studio and me and the producers and/or writers just start with a jam sesh where we sing and mess around with chords and melodies and that guides the concept and song! So it really depends on the day and the people I’m working with.
Thank you for premiering “Cave In” with us today. Why is this song on your EP, and how do you feel it differs from the other tracks?
Winter: I’d say this song is one of my most intimate and personal songs, and not to mention one of my personal favorites. It differs from other tracks of mine in that it shows this evolution in my thinking of a situation, which I find really interesting. I came back to the studio a few times to re-work the lyrics to make sure the story was told authentically. It’s important for me to have it on the EP because the broader message of the song is that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes what we want at the moment isn’t actually good for us in the long run, and it’s hard to see that when we are living in that situation.
It’s important for me to have “Cave In” on the EP because the broader message of the song is that everything happens for a reason.
I was immediately drawn in to both your voice, and the song’s message when first listening to “Cave In.” It’s a big song, for sure, but there’s a lot of meat in there too – a sincere message about emotional allure, attraction and distraction. It’s kind of like a really good high school drama: So I’ll ask, why is this song or its story important to you? Why was this a story that had to be told?
Winter: Ah, I love that description, thank you so much! I wanted to tell this story because I watched my friends and people I love going back to toxic relationships and revisiting their past in these vicious cycles. I would be listening to songs like “Back to You” from Selena Gomez and thinking to myself how often times we can drag out relationships that are unhealthy because initially that seems like a better option than being alone. “Cave In” started with a note I had on my phone that said, “If you had said let’s try again I wouldn’t have said no.” It was written after I saw an ex of mine at an event and realized how we were actually so much better apart. Then I started thinking how if we had tried to make it work when we had ended things I could still be in a relationship that actually in hindsight didn’t make sense for either of us. So in the song I’m literally “[thanking] god [he] didn’t come back to me,” because at the time of the breakup I would’ve caved in and taken him back.
“Cave In” started with a note I had on my phone that said, “If you had said let’s try again I wouldn’t have said no.”
Your voice has an incredible range that definitely speaks for itself; have you always been a talented singer? How do you practice – what is your regimen like?
Winter: Thank you for saying that! I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. My mom has told me that my preschool teachers would tell her I had perfect pitch so we found a vocal coach in New York City that I could train with. I started taking vocal lessons at the age of 4, where I insisted we sing “Out Tonight” from Rent despite her concern about the song’s content! I do vocal exercises every day and meet regularly with my vocal coach, it is extremely important to me to maintain this routine to be able to keep my voice healthy for touring and recording. I just finished my first year at U-Penn and my whole hall in the dorm hated me because I would do operatic vocal exercises every morning. They even put a “quiet” sign on my dorm room door…. Hahaha.
In the interest of hyping everyone up about your EP, why would you say this is a record other people should listen to this year?
Winter: I think there is a song on this EP for everyone. I wrote it based on my real experiences and it is a true insight into my heart and soul in the hopes of letting others know they aren’t alone in what they are going through.
Lastly – and I like to ask everyone this question: Who else should we be listening to? Who else should be on my radar?
Winter: I currently love RAYE, I have been listening to her for a while, from the songs she writes for other artists to her own work, she is so raw and real. I also love Alec Benjamin… every song he puts out is perfection and so powerful, I’m excited for what’s to come from him!
Stream: “Cave In” – Elle Winter
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