Hiya ELDR thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

Introduce us to you all and your musical history.

Hi, thanks for the invite! I’m a solo artist based in London called ELDR- pronounced ‘elder’- a moniker from my last name. I make alternative melancholic pop, weaving vocals with guitar strands, electronic textures and hypnotic rhythms. Lyrically it draws upon darker experiences in life, combined with a saccharine dreamlike atmosphere. It’s produced with my long time collaborator Knut Jonas Sellevold- a Norwegian musician (who also makes hip hop tapes by the name of ‘King Knut’). 

I previously co-founded the ethereal psych duo KULL, and I also compose film soundtracks (marinaelderton.com), so ELDR is the culmination of quite a few musical guises. After graduating from film school, where I studied Composing for Film, I realised how vital the visual aspect of music can be too. I was always inspired by experimental art filmmakers like Alejandro Jodorowsky and Derek Jarman, and I love conjuring imaginative visual worlds around ELDR. It’s become a bit an escapist pursuit for me now, delving into otherworldly ritualistic spaces and elaborating upon the emotions and cinematic scope in the music.  

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

I discovered music almost by accident by messing around with friends at my first school. It had these music rooms in an old attic space at the top of the school, and we spent hours trying out all the instruments there. I slowly discovered a musical instinct from there, and a joyful connection to myself and others through music and singing, which was really transformative. 

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

The song ‘Something in the Way’ on the Nirvana Unplugged album definitely had a major effect on me. The way it combines really simplistic grungy instrumentation with this dark, powerful emotion gets me every time. My first ever job was in a second hand record shop, so I could listen to whatever stuff I discovered on the shelves all day long. That was a real education. The whole Nirvana Unplugged album was a big influence for me, as well as artists like Warpaint, Cat Power and Grouper.  

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

The music industry is constantly changing so it can be hard to categorise myself! But I think I bring something a bit different in my songs and performance style. 

What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry? 

Patti Smith is a really inspiring example of a woman who has aged with grace and confidence in the music industry, staying authentic and relevant. I’ve also learnt that perseverance is everything from observing a lot of artists who have slowly grown loyal audiences over time (like Weyes Blood and Grouper). 

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.

I once had a long conversation with Vincent Gallo on the phone. I am an empath. I feast off self-promotion.

If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?

A shrewd manager. Invitations welcome…!

Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….

I think things have evolved in a really positive direction when it comes to women and BAME/ LGBTQ+ individuals speaking out, and generally redressing unconscious bias in society. But I don’t believe in shutting down conversation on the basis of offence. If anything, I think it’s really important to be able to debate a whole spectrum of views and opinions, so not to push them underground. I grew up in a house with a very liberal spiritual mother and a Tory father, so I was exposed to a contradictory range of political and spiritual views. But I’m grateful for that now for the sake of plurality. 

I’ve been particularly confronted with this question recently because the accompanying music video for my new single ‘Deer Skin’ deals with uncomfortable issues, and has the potential to offend. The song itself is about subjugation and abusive power dynamics, and the video elaborates upon this, dealing with racial violence and coercive control. It’s told through a dance which re-enacts a deer being hunted.

It was filmed by an incredible cinematographer Luciana Riso in association with Cooke Lenses, and is directed by my partner Philip James McGoldrick. We worked really closely with all the performers involved and discussed the evident racial themes that were emerging (our main dancer and friend Modest who plays the deer is black, and the dancers playing the archers are white).

There’s quite a brutal conclusion in the video, and although it’s confronting, we decided it was important to keep it this way, avoiding the ‘happy ending’ or revenge narrative. The truth is these situations still go on today- particularly in America where police violence against black communities is lethal in many cases. I hope our video will inspire change in a positive direction, but I have to be prepared for the prospect that some will not like it, and even want to shut it down. 

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If not why not?

I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate societal injustices that conspiracists respond to, but there’s a danger of conspiracy theorists exploiting disenfranchised people in society. Really, we just need to make society work better for more people. We all know ‘freedom’ is a complex term in today’s capitalist playground, but it doesn’t mean the royal family are lizards! 

What was the worst experience on stage?

I once played a gig in the bottom of a boat (with KULL) on a hot Summer’s evening. My guitar strings kept going out of tune and I freaked out and ran off stage.

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about. 

I just gave birth. 

I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.

Yes! My new single ‘Deer Skin’ is out now on all streaming platforms, and a remix of my first ELDR release Defender (Remix) will be coming out later in the year. Both are very close to my heart and I feel like they’re a real progression in my sound. We intended to strip things right back to their essential ingredients with these, and work fresher programmed rhythms and experimental samples into an organic sound.

Deer Skin for example combines lo-fi programmed beats with earthy harp played by a great Berlin based artist and friend Andy Aquarius. We’re currently finishing the video for Defender (Remix), which is pretty crazy. It involves me riding a horse through a pink forest. Looking forward to sharing it all with the world! 

What was the recording process like?

It started from quite an insular place- I wrote both tracks on electric guitar and then built them up from there in Logic, adding vocals, midi textures and layered harmonies. Once I felt like I’d taken them as far as I could, I brought them to Knut who then really helped to bring out the colours through his production and added orchestration.

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

It was really refreshing adopting a policy of simplicity, and trying out new drum sounds as part of these new tracks. It emerged from our live set, because we needed to strip the tracks right back in order to be able to play them live (otherwise we’d need 10 players for all the layers!)- when I heard the tracks like that it definitely awakened me to an exciting next direction.  

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

No! I’ve taken my sweet time getting them ready haha. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

I’ve developed a bespoke merch range called ELDR Editions which includes sacred geometric ELDR prints on t-shirts/ soft jumpers and mugs. I’d love people to have a browse and buy a piece, or one of my limited edition USB EP’s on bandcamp. Every little helps to support the work.