ELEN: A Musical Odyssey from Berlin Streets to Countryside Solitude – An Exclusive Interview

Next Round! Another week, another Sit-In on Friday. We hope you enjoyed our beautiful creative CHU last week. We’re all set for the next one. How about you, guys? Let’s dive into ELEN. Elen stands out as an exception amidst the vibrantly colored patterns of the current German Pop business, especially in terms of women’s careers. She possesses a rare quality that is often missing: Truthfulness.

This quality shines through in each of her songs, every line of her lyrics, as well as in her personality and biography. Listen to her unmistakable voice that reminds you of talented artists like Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, or Janis Joplin.

Voice and personality aside, ELEN also draws strength from her experiences as a street musician, where she learned to assert herself. Her repertoire includes songs by Neil Young, Coldplay, Tracy Chapman, as well as her own street music creations, which carry an element of risk and vulnerability. This authenticity resonates deeply, making you feel every line she sings.

ELEN’s music taps into a longing for simplicity and lightheartedness, evoking that familiar sense of happiness and trust we felt as children. Her songs like “Hallo,” “5 Meter Mauern,” and “Blind über rot” explore the delicate balance between open vulnerability and unguarded openness. She also delves into societal challenges, sharing striking encounters as a street musician, exposing the edges of our society in front of the Schönhauser Allee Arcades in Berlin. Her music addresses individual responsibility (“Egal”) and the unique struggles faced by women who often feel they are not given their due.

For each of these emotions, moods, and themes, ELEN finds the perfect musical expression—powerful, gentle, or even tender. If you want to delve deeper into the world of this remarkable artist, you’ll discover that she escaped the city and returned to a small courtyard in Brandenburg, embracing a different life. Here, she finds solace among a handful of neighbors and a bustling menagerie of animals: two horses, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, peacocks, chickens, rabbits, bees, and more. However, this idyllic setting, often glamorized in glossy magazines, comes with its fair share of dirt under the fingernails and a lot of hard work. ELEN embodies “truthfulness,” a characteristic and attitude that we increasingly long for. Her genuine nature shines through both as a person and in her songs. It’s about the yearning to connect with your true self, to embrace authenticity amidst the overwhelming abundance of our time, and to find and live your own center while taking on personal responsibility. Somehow, ELEN manages to capture the pulse of it all.

by Christoph Köstlin

TITLE: You started off by busking in the streets of Berlin. What do you think that experience has taught you?

ELEN: Playing on the street showed me, that you have to be brave and that some beginnings are really hard before it gets well. And that you can hope that something great will come out of situations that don’t look like it at first. On the street you are real and the audience is real too.
TITLE: Why did you start making music and singing?

ELEN: For me, the question would rather be, what else could I have done? I somehow always knew that I was drawn to making music, because music moves me more than almost anything else. So I just had to do what I love, what touches my soul and sets something in motion.

TITLE: How do you think your journey has shaped you so far?

ELEN: Because I have never been permanently employed or trained anywhere, I think I am missing a little bit from today’s perspective. I’m not so good with obedience and authority. On the other hand, I had to start early to earn my living independently and disciplined. I couldn’t just go on making sick, because there was no company that would pay. So I learned early on that I have to drive myself, even if it doesn’t always work out. I learned that my work is worth something and that I can go my own way, somehow away from the “school-training – job-career” system. I am very grateful for that.

TITLE: Moving from Berlin into the countryside is something people rarely do. What has that changed for you and your outlook?

ELEN: Here in the countryside there are many opportunities and plenty of space to let off steam. Where I live, I do not disturb the neighbours, no matter what I do and when. I can keep animals or not, I can build or not, I can have a garden or not, I can always make music here, I can invite as many people as I want because I have a lot of meadow for tents or I can be all alone, I can have peace or be super active. And if you have the right ideas, you can also make ends meet here. I am independent of fancy flats or expensive rentals. And I really appreciate that. I’m very curious what else will happen here besides the music.

TITLE: If you could speak to yourself in the past, what would you say to her?

ELEN: You’re doing all right, get up, go on and hold on. It’s going to be an exciting journey where you can’t control and steer everything, but you know that wouldn’t be for you. Have faith in what you’re doing, everything will get better.

TITLE: When have you felt the biggest sense of achievement?

by Christoph Köstlin

ELEN: The greatest feeling of success for me personally was when I held my first album in my hands as a real CD. All the hard work of years was packed into it. Since I was 7 years old I wanted to have singing as a profession and that was the moment that showed me that it is serious and not just dreaming. I was proud that I never let go and stayed with it through all the ups and downs and in the end never let myself get discouraged. It was such a great feeling.

TITLE: During these times, it’s difficult for everybody to fill their days in a way that makes sense to them. How are you spending most of your time at the moment?

ELEN: I am currently spending some time on the computer and on the phone or recording songs on my small courtyard stage. Besides, the yard is also changing quite a bit, which I record and share on the social networks. The garden is growing, we have preferred a lot of vegetables this year. That’s what I spend most of my time with, besides the work for the music.

TITLE: When do you feel most creative and most inspired to make music?

ELEN: I am actually most inspired when I am moved, when something happens in my life that changes. But also when too much happens, then I have to see how I deal with the situation. But sometimes writing is also the way to deal with something. But not every writing session starts out that way. Sometimes it’s just good conversations with the people I write with that can get something good going.

TITLE: Our concept for our interview is “Sit in on Friday”. I think everybody’s Fridays used to look pretty different back when they could actually leave their home. What would your regular Friday look like?

ELEN: Well, kind of no different than any other day of the week except maybe Sunday. I always have something to do, whether it’s the beginning of the week or the weekend, so I don’t really have that friday feeling.

TITLE: What is the first thing you want to do when self isolation is over?

ELEN: Visit all my people!

TITLE: We have a format on TITLE that is all about the true identity of artists and brands so we can dig deeper than just the surface. Would you say you have found your true identity? And if so, how would you describe it?

ELEN: Wow, that’s a huge question. I think the only real constants are the great importance of music in my life and the definition of myself as a child of God, because I am a Christian. Otherwise, I think I find it difficult to define that. In Germany you define yourself quite often through your profession, but everyone is of course much more than your profession. But also more than the friends you have, who say a lot about who you are, or your partner or your family or your hobbies. But I think I have an idea of who I am.

I am not so much among people, a lot in the green and in the garden, but I can be badly alone and I can get a lot out of animals and I have very real, craft-oriented hobbies. Sometimes I love to dance, but I don’t need a disco for that, I’m not so open, rather closed and quiet, but I also have a wild, loud child inside me that needs to vent from time to time. I want to be free and I am happy when I see that others are somehow. I know that bad things exist, but I also look for the good things in everyday situations and I am happy about that.

I like to be happy, because I know the opposite very well. Sometimes I want to belong, but I know that I often don’t. And sometimes I feel like an alien, because what is in me is partly incomprehensible to others and most people probably find what I like boring.

I want to be able to gain a lot from the world as it is without having to build big plans and ideas. But I am also a fan of fantasies and find it exciting to do things that have no guarantee of success.

I don’t have such a great eye for the future, a lot happens to me in the here and now. Sometimes it makes work easier and takes away worries. That’s good. Quality is important to me and I hate compromises, even though I know that sometimes you have to make some. I allow myself to be weak, but it is hard for me to show that to strangers.

by Christoph Köstlin

TITLE: What would your advice be for aspiring artists that are trying to make it?

ELEN: I don’t believe that you will be successful through casting, you will be exploited and you will not do what you want to do, unless you just want to be famous and you don’t care about the rest. The fame is usually quite short, though. And you should be prepared to put all your eggs in one basket. But you must also be aware that it can go wrong. It’s quite a risk. It is important to be self-reflective and honest with yourself. You also need a thick skin and should be able to criticize. Stupid sayings or bad criticism should not be able to stop you from believing in what you are doing and continuing. It should rather be a thing you grow on. But you should also be able to check what you are doing and admit to yourself if something is simply not good. This inner drive, that this is exactly what you want, has to be there. I think otherwise you won’t make it. You need stamina, endurance. Because it’s a long road.