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The Elf - Justified But Not Ancient

Author: Jane Stabler
Friday, 8 February 2008
Despite what you may think, the man behind the Elf is not small, green and working for Santa. With that revelation, if you’re not quite sure what the elf stands for, you’re not alone. Darren Cross, the Elf himself, admits that the meaning is flexible, but as far as names go he’s already getting used to being likened to EMF and in particular, the KLF, which he doesn’t mind at all. Interview by Jane Stabler.

“The [meaning of the name] changes,” Cross reveals. “But hell yeah [the association with KLF is] cool. I love KLF and everything they’ve done, the music, the philosophy, their crazy scams. Everyone thinks of EMF or KLF but it doesn’t sound like EMF or KLF.”

“[And] it’s not emo!” he is quick to add.

Describing his sound as ambient indie house, emo he most certainly is not. The ELF also isn’t very Stevie Nicks, which makes the title of his new EP, Stevie Nicks’ Heart, an interesting one.

“My next song, the lead song off the EP, is called Stevie Nicks’ Heart,” he explains, “and it’s an ambient indie singing thing. It sounds like a cross between Pavement and Underworld. She’s the best female singer ever. Well, in my little world, [and I had this] thing that every girl who’d I’d been romantically linked with since I was about fourteen has always loved Stevie Nicks so I kind of use that as a metaphor.” 

Having already successfully taken on the music industry as part of local alternative guitar and electronic rock outfit Gerling, Cross is now taking to the dance scene as a solo act. Well, in a partnership if you count his trusty travelling companion – his laptop.

“I’ve already done about forty shows,” he says with enthusiasm, “so I’ve been on a national tour and a mini national tour and I’m going to Melbourne every second week. I love it, it’s great, it’s just me and a laptop!”

Although travelling alone may be a lighter affair compared to his previous experiences with hauling a band’s more substantial equipment around the nation, Cross does admit that after being part of Gerling, he isn’t sure whether people are watching his solo effort with support, or whether they are waiting to see if he can actually make The ELF work.

“With Gerling we all wanted to do all that stuff,” he considers of Gerling’s musical differences to The ELF. “When you’re with a mob of people and you nut out what you want to do, it’s very different to writing music by yourself. It’s early days [and] I’m kind of playing any gig that will have me! I always wanted to do dance and I always pushed that angle. I’ve been doing the mash-ups and DJing in my house for about a year and a half!”

“I’m not too sure [what people are thinking]…with Gerling people really did love parts of what we did and I guess people who loved the dance stuff of Gerling, and I know this sounds like a lame sales pitch, but they will love and understand and get into what I do. It’s all dance what I’m doing, more downbeat and chill-out, but it’s up and down dance music. I see it like there are heaps of people out there who are into this, and they’ll get into what I’m doing.”

WHAT: Stevie Nicks’ Heart through Oak Records / Plays Spectrum
WHEN: Out now / Saturday 16 February