As an actress, singer, songwriter, and amateur Instagram baker, 20 year old Elle Winter gives 110% into anything she sets her mind to. Winter was born and raised in New York City and has been on the rise since she was first discovered by Disney at the age of 14. In March 2020, Winter released her debut EP Yeah, No: A six-track EP entirely co-written by Winter that embraces relatable themes of female empowerment and resilience. The Orchard spoke with Elle about her new EP Yeah, No and her experience writing and producing with some of the biggest pop producers in the game.
The Orchard: You’ve co-written all your songs. Can you break down what it’s like to co-write?
Elle Winter: Each session varies. I sometimes will enter the session with a concept sketched out, but other times I go in and let the production guide my writing and inspire me to write about experiences I was not intending to touch on. I think what is consistent is approaching each session with an open mind and open heart. I find my best work comes when I don’t shy away from how I feel and challenge myself to try new things. I love collaborating with other songwriters and brainstorming concepts and phrasings that bring my experiences to life. Collaborating with other writers allows me to share my insights and ideas with others and view things in different perspectives.
You released an EP in March called Yeah, No. What’s your favorite track or two off the EP? Can you tell us a little bit about each song?
My favorite song off the EP is the title track, “Yeah, No.” The record is super special to me given it has allowed me to connect with so many people. “Yeah, No.” was written after the end of a relationship. My ex-boyfriend would call me constantly to check in as if I still needed his support. If he knew me he would know that I was fine on my own and did not need him to make me feel good. When I have performed this song live, audiences would approach me afterwards or reach out via social media to tell me how the song struck a chord with them or how they are turning to it to overcome a similar experience. It is super fulfilling to hear and see this reaction and know that my music is making a difference in someone’s life. Each song off the project has a theme of empowerment. It was really important for me to have my first body of work focus on strength and vulnerability. I find that whether I am singing a song like “Yeah, No.” or reflecting on past decisions, like in my song “Cave In,” my goal is to send a message of strength and resilience to my listeners.
When talking about your song “110%” you told MTV that the song is about giving your all and more, “I think you get what you give,” you said. How do you give your 110% in life?
Throughout my life, I have always adhered to the idea that if I tried my best and gave my all to whatever I was doing, I would feel satisfied no matter the result. I have always taken this approach to life, whether it involved my music and acting career, or school work and personal relationships. I believe hard work and dedication is so important to personal happiness, particularly in the industry I have chosen to be part of.
Can you reveal anything to fans about new music?
My new music is definitely very intimate and personal. I am challenging myself to write about those “a-ha” moments in life I have had over the past few years.
While there’s no one size fits all, in your book, what’s the recipe for a BOP?
That’s a great question! I think that the music I connect with most is fearless, both lyrically and sonically. I think great music is liberating and honest and derived from personal experiences that listeners can relate to anywhere in the world.
The Orphanage produced your recent EP — the duo who worked with a number of impressive artists like Lizzo, Demi Lovato, and Alessia Cara. What was that like? How did you guys end up working together? What was your vision from a production standpoint?
It was incredible to work with them. They are super talented and wonderful people. When I started working on my new music project, I met with my A&R consultant and told him that one of my favorite songs at the time was Demi Lovato’s song “Sorry Not Sorry” which The Orphanage worked on. I love how fearless and powerful the song is. He connected me with them and I knew from our first session together it was a great fit and I wanted them to be part of my entire project. They completely understand me as an artist and their positive energy and talent is undeniable. I knew that we would make super empowering music together that was organic, uplifting and rhythmic pop music.
You’ve done a lot with your career already at a young age — from Radio Disney, Netflix, to releasing music. How have all those chapters influenced who you are today?
All of these chapters in my life have influenced who I am today. I have focused on being an artist from a very early age and probably grew up and matured faster than some of my peers. I have learned a lot from all these experiences and have grown more confident and resilient in who I am as an artist. I have been fortunate to work with and meet so many different types of people and travel to so many different places since a young age. Some of the people I have met along the way are still a big part of my life. These experiences have made me realize that no matter how different people seem to be we are all really very similar and music is a common thread for so many.
If you could tell any 20-year-old the biggest lessons you’ve learned about releasing your own music, what would you say?
I would say to have patience. I think starting out so early in the industry, I used to think I was in such a rush to accomplish various goals at certain deadlines and ages I arbitrarily set for myself. I’ve realized though that life is not a rush to the finish line and taking the time to be super thoughtful and tedious about my art and plans is more productive and will lead to a stronger and better result in the end.
What have you recently discovered about yourself while practicing social distancing? Any new talents, skills, or things you didn’t know about yourself? Any new apps you’ve explored during this time?
I have discovered that I am not as technologically challenged as I thought! I did a live stream performance with LiveXLive and was able to master all of this equipment sent to me and was super proud of myself haha! I also think this time has been super productive for me as a songwriter. I am writing a few songs a day and find I am challenging myself to touch on topics I have never written about before. Being alone has allowed me to address my most inner thoughts and feelings in my music, and I am excited to bring these ideas to my next larger project. I am also playing a lot of guitar and learning how to play piano, which has been great. Finally, I have started cooking with my sister. We are coming up with fun healthy recipes.
We’ve got some fun Best/Worst questions for you!
Best/Worst Instagram challenge you’ve participated in?
I honestly haven’t participated in that many Instagram challenges! The only one I can think of is the Dolly Parton challenge! I thought mine was pretty good.
Best/Worst bake-off (we saw you on IG!)
Best bake-off would be my healthy sugar cookies! I make them with protein powder and monk fruit sweetener, and they taste too good to be healthy! My worst bake-off would be all the healthy sugar cookies I made before I mastered my recipe.
Best/Worst fashion trend you’ve participated in?
Hmmm… I used to be obsessed with jean vests. Bedazzled jean vests, cropped jean vests, you name it. I don’t know why I loved them, but it definitely wasn’t the best fashion choice. I’d say my best fashion trend I’ve taken part of would be snowboarder pants. I don’t think that’s what they are called, but I love to wear high waisted baggy pants with a crop top. One of my favorite trends.
You can listen to Yeah, No on all streaming platforms now and follow Elle Winter on Instagram and Twitter.