With her undeniable vocals, instrumental skill, eccentric aesthetic, and poetic lyricism, Ellenie Eloff makes one reminisce about legendary female musicians such as Karen O, Kathleen Hanna, and Carrie Brownstein. As the frontwoman of local four-piece, Elle E, she and her band have been making waves in the local music scene, so we thought it only fair to sit down with her and learn more about her musical journey, travels, challenges, interests, and future goals.

When Ellenie was a young girl, she discovered an acoustic guitar with nylon strings stashed in the back of her mother’s closet and that was the beginning of her musical journey. She would shut herself in her room, turn on the only radio station that picked up on their farm and pretend like she was the one playing the songs. “My rhythm on guitar started getting really good even though I had no idea what I was doing or how to play cords. I fell in love with the feeling it gave me,” she says.


After finishing school, Ellenie moved to London, where she spent ten years working in the fashion industry — while still spending her summers back in Cape Town. London is also where she first started getting into making music “as a joke and for fun”. She bought a cheap guitar, which she brought with her whenever she had to travel for work. 

Elle E

[Elle E performing at Evol in Cape Town on 25 February for the Outer Space-Tazers Tour presented by The Revival Co. PHOTO: Mia Jane Truter]

“I still didn’t know the names of different guitar chords, so I just played around until I could hear nice sounds I liked,” she says, adding that, despite being left-handed, she would exclusively practise on a right-handed guitar. “That’s how the whole thing happened with me playing left-handed upside-down guitar.” During her time in London, she fell in love with the city and its live music scene. “I loved going to the festivals to watch my favourite bands. I can’t wait to visit again — so many fond memories,”  she says.

The Two Stroke Days

Ellenie and the Christie brothers, Louis and Marcel, formed a short-lived three-piece called Two Stroke. She mentions that Elle E’s Two Stroke EP consists entirely of re-released recordings from their Two Stroke years.

However, after Two Stroke ended, Ellenie pursued a solo project, during which she occasionally used session musicians and still recorded the majority of the material herself. After about four years apart, she asked the Christie brothers to play with her again after her drummer moved overseas. 

Elle E

[Elle E band members (top to bottom) Louis Christie, Ellenie Eloff, Udartha “Udi” Ramesar and Marcel Christie. PHOTO: Blyde Smit]

Marcel suggested that they ask his sister-in-law, Udartha “Udi” Ramesar, to join on guitar and keys. Ellenie agreed, saying, “I started using a lot of keyboard in the songs and Udi is a brilliant musician and absolute legend.” That is how the four-piece Elle E came to be. “We are like family and they are such great friends. Each one of them is very talented and things work so well between all of us. Can’t wait to go on tour with them again,” says Ellenie.

Woman of the hour

According to Ellenie, as a female lead singer, the better she became the more respect she was accorded. “Then shows started getting bigger and venues started filling up more. There are some rotten apples in the industry, but no one really messes with me anymore,” she says laughingly. Her words of wisdom to others are to be the best you can be at your craft and to never let anyone take advantage of you.

Ellenie Eloff

[Ellenie Eloff at an Elle E show at District in Cape Town presented by Foulplay accompanied by Shadowclub and Year of Dogs on 18 August. PHOTO: Mia Jane Truter]

We Kill Cowboys’ frontwoman Alex Muller agrees, stating that she’s never “given a fuck about gender roles” because, to her, it all comes down to love and creating. “I’ve been fronting and playing in bands since the age of 15 and what I’ve loved about performing and making music, is that it exceeds gender roles. Feminism is equality and that’s been my experience as a band leader and musician over the last 20 years,” she says, adding that any man or woman who doesn’t have the right intention or passion, won’t last. “It’s that simple. The music and attitude will always speak volumes. Do what you love and the rest will come.”

No cramping her style

It’s evident to anyone who has seen Elle E perform live or scrolled through their socials that, outside of music, Ellenie also cherishes her style and aesthetic. She stresses the importance of having fun and not taking yourself too seriously. “People can sense when you are trying too hard or aren’t yourself. Just do what comes naturally and if you are having fun other people will enjoy it too,” she advises.

Ellenie believes some bands do not have a look, which then becomes their “look”. “I also share a lot of my life on my social media. I use it like a personal account with a lot of musical content,” she explains.

Ellenie Eloff

[Elle E performing at The Daisy Jones Bar in Stellenbosch on 10 September for Decade: Ten Years of Psych Night alongside BLK JKS, Holograph and Lucas Swart and the Daylight. PHOTO: Athena Roseleavna]

Josh O’Bree, the founder of Foulplay which runs District band nights, compares Elle E to a combination of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Dead Weather. In fact, he had been listening to their music for a while before finally seeing them perform in person — which was at his Foulplay gig. “I just knew of them and that they were legendary in Cape Town. So, I was a bit nervous to meet them. […] But, when they performed, it was just an amazing performance and an awesome stage presence. I just really want to get them back, to be honest. I am trying to get a lineup together that is worthy of them — a great sound, great band, great people. I want them back bad!” says Josh.

According to Ellenie, the singles Elle E released after Stereo Child and Two Stroke, were her way to test a new sound. “I already have most of the next EP recorded. I recorded it in lockdown in my bedroom as I did with ‘Tiny House’, ‘Too Much of a Good Thing’, ‘Hairy Situation’, ‘Puppy Love’ and ‘Oh Blue Eyes’,” she says. However, at the moment she is working with Louis, Marcel and Udi on the next single release. “So the [next] EP will have to wait,” she says.

In the limelight 

Ellenie aspires to learn and grow as a musician and Elle E’s lead singer — all while having a good time doing it. She has also always integrated her passion for filmmaking and editing with her musical talents. “Sometimes I will write a song for something I shot and other times the song comes first and then I use it for a video,” she says, adding that the two items she always has on her are her Handycam and phone — ready to record musical ideas with.

Ellenie Eloff

[According to Ellenie Eloff, she draws inspiration from too many musicians to name all of them, but some are: The Kills, Beirut, Stereo Total, Ty Segall, Metronomy, Tame Impala, Nirvana, The Velvet Underground, The Mouldy Peaches, Brigitte Bardot & Serge Gainsbourg, Pixies, The Breeders, Temples, Porridge Radio, White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, David Bowie, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Future Islands and LCD Soundsystem. PHOTO: Athena Roseleavna]

Over the next five years, Ellenie aims to travel the world while doing what she loves, jokingly adding she’d like to able to afford some of “the best luxuries the world has to offer”. She also hopes to perform at festivals and concerts in South Africa and abroad, including Primavera Sound, Lollapalooza, and Reading, among others. Before then, she plans on recording, filming and releasing an “amazing body of work”.

Currently, the band is looking forward to a number of very exciting local gigs coming up. They’ll be at Bohemia in Stellenbosch on 20 October, performing alongside Cistamatic. On 4 November, they will be back at The Daisy Jones Bar joined by Laurie Levine and BRYNN for ‘Colours‘. Furthermore, they have a massive show on 3 December with The Tazers, Black Math, TOUGHGUY, and Moskitos — as well as the legendary Dutch garage-punk trio Bongloard — at Colorbox Studios in Cape Town.


I can’t play any musical instruments or sing, so this is my contribution to the local music scene — which I love immensely. I can’t touch my toes, but that has held me back only slightly in life. My hobbies include reading, beer, bringing up Let’s Get Local when no one asked, writing, and surprising people with my pool skills. I believe somehow all of this will lead me to Dave Grohl.

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