Nice To Meet You: Singer-Songwriter Elah Hale on Double Texting and Double Jointed Elbows

Published April 2, 2020

Photo by Natalie O’Moore.

This is Nice to Meet You, for all your need-to-know information on the need-to-get-to-know new voices in pop culture. Think of it as a blind date, if the date were cooler than anyone you’ll probably ever go out with. Allow us to break the ice; we promise you’ll fall in love.

First up is the 20-year-old singer-songwriter Elah Hale, who’s looking ahead to her first EP, Room 206 on Interscope Records, after walking in New York Fashion Week’s Yeezy Season 2 showcase and becoming a Bandcamp DIY sensation with infectious, honey-voiced pop tracks like “Gentle” and “Posters“—all before leaving her teens. Talking everything from her favorite graphic novel to her favorite Bravo show, Hale and Interview got close the only way people can in our age of social distancing: over the phone, from separate beds, in the middle of the afternoon.

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On channeling her inner Claire Saffitz: I’ve been going crazy cooking recently. The thing I’ve been really into is soups. In my college years, I got really obsessed with making ramen from scratch, so we would get really invested and we would drive an hour away from campus to go to this really great supermarket so that I could make semi-authentic ramen. I’ve also been trying to experiment with banana bread. I did risotto last night. We’re getting fancy over here.

On her Ivy League ambitions: If I weren’t a musician, I would like to work in prison abolition, probably. When I was younger, I wanted to go to Stanford and be a neuroscientist. I had no idea what it took to get into Stanford, but that was my dream for a while. I was on my way to ordering Stanford sweatshirts in my sophomore year of high school. At first, music just didn’t feel accessible. It felt like this thing that you could only do if you had a lot of money, or if you had a lot of resources. Especially in my first two years of high school, when I met my high school boyfriend and he was making music with his friends, it was at the same time that I was doing more stuff on Tumblr, and meeting more people. I started to learn a lot more about Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, and TuneCore, and started doing things in a more DIY way. That really led me to eventually feeling like, okay, I can do this. I also realized that you needed to get really good grades and really good ACT scores to get into an Ivy League school. I loved high school, but I did not love standardized tests.

On her not guilty guilty pleasures: I am obsessed with Bravo TV shows. Vanderpump Rules and Below Deck are the two that I really love. It’s a very not guilty, guilty pleasure.

On her bookshelf: I’m gonna nerd out really quickly. There’s so many right now. I’m really into graphic novels; that might be my secret talent. There’s one that’s really amazing called Sabrina. I have three sitting next to my bed right now, but whenever I feel like reading some piece of scholarship, or formal literature is too much, I always just read Harry Potter. It sort of reminds me to be training my eyes and staying focused on reading even when I don’t feel like I can process something, or it’s too much, or it’s too heavy. It’s a really good middle ground.

On communication: I really don’t feel like I know how to communicate with people. I know that sounds stupid. I get really embarrassed when someone asks me if I want to hang out, and I really want to hang out, and I get too invested. I think the last thing I was embarrassed about was someone texted me, and I texted them back all of these things, and I was like, Oh my God, I am a fool. Look at me trying so hard.

On double texting: Oh, I’m so a double texter. I don’t care.

On double-jointed elbows: I have double-jointed elbows. That freaks people out. That’s my really interesting secret talent.

On misconceptions: People think I’m really tall because I have a really big personality. I think because I’m a Leo, people think I’m this really tall person. People meet me and they’re like, “You’re so small and unassuming.” Like, yeah, I know. I’m 5’6″, but people think I’m going to be like 5’9″ or some shit. I show up completely average, and they are disappointed. I get it from my mom. My mom is five feet, exactly, but she gives off a smooth 5’5.”

On her dog: Carl. Like an old man.