Élan Noelle is an exceptional singer, songwriter and producer who has created a sound that is all her own. Some of her major musical influences come from an eclectic list of artists such as, Earth Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Teena Marie. As a San Francisco CA native, Élan moved to Washington, D.C where she cultivated her musical talents. At the tender age of five, Élan Noelle knew that she wanted to perform. She taught herself how to play the piano and then later purchased a sequencer and began creating music relentlessly. Before breaking into her own, Élan performed with her sisters in a R&B vocal trio known as Zephyra. Together, their accomplishments include, touring all over the East Coast appearing at venues such as, The Carter Baron, The Kennedy Center, opening for artists such as Brandy, Monica, winning first place on the famous television show, Showtime at The Apollo and releasing an independent EP called “The Calm Before The Storm.” Recently, Élan Noelle performed live at The Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. twice as the opening act for Lyfe Jennings. In addition to film study in college, Élan studied musical theatre and acting. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Howard University, Élan continued her thespian studies at the Studio Theatre in Washington D.C. and completed the entire curriculum. As an actress, Élan has appeared in several television commercials and her highlighted stage performances include a one woman show as Billy Holiday in “Lady Day,” and Lady Macbeth in “Macbeth”. We got the chance to ask the multitalented Elan Noelle about her past and present works in the industry, as well as interview her producer, Brent LeVasseur, who is releasing a self published book to accompany Elan’s new single.
Entertwine: When did you begin writing music and performing live?
Elan Noelle: My oldest memory of me writing a song was when I was about 8 years old. Before dinner, I wrote this little song in my room. I thought it was so good so I performed it for my family. Their reaction was so supportive it just made me want to continue. Looking back I knew the song was just ok lol.
ET: How did you and Brent meet and begin working together?
EN: Brent contacted me online and asked me if I would be interested in creating a theme song for his e-book called Aoleon The Martian Girl. He was gracious enough to give me a copy and after reading a few lines I was sold.
ET: What can you tell us about the music scene of Washington DC?
EN: I am just now getting my feet wet with performing my own music but I can tell you that the music scene in DC is pretty diverse. There are quite a few venues where artist can showcase their music. Especially on U street which is located in Washington DC. There is an establishment on almost every block where you can walk in and hear some live music.
ET: Were you performing when you lived in San Francisco, California?
EN: Not really. I was however, performing a lot with my sisters during that time in local talent shows and the like. It was mainly for dance competitions though. We didn’t pursue our singing career as a group until we moved to Washington, DC. That is when our RnB group Zephyra emerged.
ET: What life experiences and events led to the writing and recording of your debut EP “Beautifully Invisible”? Could you tell us a bit about each of the songs that were included on this release?
EN: Well, I didn’t have a lot of drama in my life so I wanted to put out an album that not only inspires people and uplifts their souls but makes them want to dance. So most of the songs are about my spiritual journey. For instance, the song “In the Light” is about discovering the power within us to achieve our desires. That’s one of my favorites. The song Beautifully invisible was written for a video I was going to post about natural hair but it became something more. The song is about seeing the inner beauty. It’s invisible because it’s of the spirit yet, we can see it. I hope that makes sense.
ET: What do the remaining months of 2014 hold in store for Elan Noelle? Do you have any plans to release a full-length record in the near future?
EN: I definitely plan on releasing a full length album soon. Hopefully you will get to hear it by 2015. I am always creating new songs it’s just a matter of releasing them at this point. I am very excited about sharing these new songs with the world. I’ve been accused of being a bit of a perfectionist which tends to prolong when the songs will be released but I’m in no hurry. Right now I am on the verge of releasing my new dance single called “Freestyle.” So keep an ear out for it.
Entertwine: Brent, Could you tell us a bit about your producing/musical background?
BL: I am an entrepreneur and marketer. I founded one of the first online streaming/social networking websites in 1997. It featured independent music and film artists and was the first website to stream a feature-length movie. Basically, it was a precursor to what Facebook and YouTube are today. This was before Google even existed. Broadband, though, had not proliferated to the point necessary for my site to really take off. I ran the company for 5 years before I sold it and pursued a marketing career.
ET: What life experiences led you to begin writing and producing music in the first place?
BL: During my freshman year in college, I hooked up with a playwright at my university and began writing orchestral scores for the university theater department. I was self-taught (being a business major and not a music major), but I loved music and ended up spending a lot of time in the school library listening to classical music and studying the orchestral scores that went along with those pieces. From those, I taught myself music. I attended a few music theory classes and hung out with music majors, but I wasn’t one.
The theater department went on to hire me to score several of their productions, one of which was a premiere that was selected to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland. They paid me $2,000 to write the score, which was for me incredible at the time, considering there was a whole department of music composition majors (of which I was not a part) who were not asked to do the music. I then went on to score several short films for both Pepperdine and USC film students.
The Another World song was my very first “pop/electronic dance” song. Although I typically listen to classical music or film scores, someone recently introduced me to European-style electronic dance music. I loved it. Then I upgraded to Logic X on the Mac and wanted to compose a song using it. I also wanted to create a theme song for my Aoleon The Martian Girl project. The Another World song came out of that.
ET: Who are your biggest musical influences?
BL: As a kid, I was really into guitar rock. Bands such as Van Halen, Rush, Led Zeppelin, and the Police were always blaring on my home stereo. I also started to play guitar at age 12 and got into instrumental guitarists such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Michael Hedges, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Johnson, and Pat Metheny.
I was introduced to classical music during my freshman year in college at Pepperdine University in Malibu. At the time — fortunately for me — Esa-Pekka Salonen was conductor of the nearby Los Angeles Philharmonic. He was a real pioneer of 20th century classical music and featured new composers such as Witold Lutoslawski at the L.A. Phil performances. As a student, I went to as many performances and rehearsals on Saturday mornings as I possibly could. Listening to Esa-Pekka Salonen talk about the music as he was rehearsing it with the L.A. Phil was an incredible education for me. I learned a lot from him! As an adult and composer, I listen to everything I can possibly get my hands or ears on. My favorite classical composers are Mozart and Ravel. However, I listen to the whole gamut of music.
ET: What about these particular artists or producers inspires your creativity?
BL: Well, I could go on for hours about these composers and musical bands and how they inspire me. You could write a whole article just on that alone. Ravel, for example, was probably the greatest orchestrator to ever live. His Daphnis and Chloe is the absolute pinnacle of orchestration in my opinion. As I said, I could go on and on.
ET: What can you tell us about the new song (Another World) you co-wrote with Elan Noelle?
BL: I discovered Élan online and was totally blown away by her amazing voice! She has another eponymous album out that is absolutely fantastic. I recommend that everyone go out and buy it. It features absolute gems such as In the Light and Air. Anyway, I fell in love with her voice, and somehow the idea clicked that she could sing the song I wanted to write (an electronic dance music song based on my Aoléon The Martian Girl characters and story). So I decided to contact her, and lucky for me, she agreed to do the song! It has been a blast collaborating with her. She is an amazingly gifted singer, and this song wouldn’t have been possible without her!
ET: The song has been available digitally on iTunes and other similar outlets for just over two weeks now; how has its initial reception been?
BL: So far it is selling well both on amazon.com and Apple iTunes music stores and has gotten one positive review. Hopefully, through this article and others, people will take notice of the song, buy it and review it!
ET: This song is part of a larger project, correct? What else is involved?
BL: Yes, this song was designed to be a promotional piece for my up-and-coming Aoléon The Martian Girl book, soon to be released on amazon.com. Aoléon The Martian Girl came about back in 2003 when I decided to teach myself 3D animation, modeling and rendering. I started learning several 3D apps such as Lightwave 3D, Modo, and Softimage XSI. I decided I needed a project so that I could practice my new hobby. I came up with the idea of doing a Martian adventure story for children and young adults. I created Aoléon as a digital 3D model in early 2004 and the rest of the main characters by 2005. At this time, I also created a feature-length screenplay for an animated movie. I then took my screenplay and character profiles to several executives in Hollywood to see about the possibility of making a movie.
One of those executives was Sean Perrone of Perrone/Kaplan Entertainment at Sony Pictures. He loved my characters but told me I needed to work more on my story. He suggested I take my screenplay and adapt it into a novel. So based on that recommendation, I set out to turn my movie into an illustrated novel. Here I am almost 10 years later — a children’s/young adult book with 144 color illustrations and Another World, a theme song — all set to take off!
Here is a link to the song on iTunes :http://bit.ly/1CjEp5Z
Here is the link to the song on Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1vwsGCk