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Elle Varner Interview With BOSSIP About Politics, Dating And Music

Last month we chatted up the very socially aware singer Elle Varner following the soundcheck for her Atlanta tour date. We talked at length about her new project (Four Letter Word), her love life and her troubles last year with K. Michelle, who went ballistic during a “Breakfast Club” interview over the two putting out similarly sounding songs.

BOSSIP: We heard you doing a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On? during sound check. When did you decide to do that and how much of what’s going on has inspired you as of late?

Elle Varner: Well…I would call it my awakening, cultural awakening, and I think it’s amazing, despite all of the negativity that’s happening, it’s amazing to see young people so involved. It’s almost like now we have something to fight for. My grandparents had something to fight for, even our parents and you know, without that we’re just a bunch of friggin’ people with our cell phones, you know? And when Ferguson happened and they were rioting, I was listening to Kanye’s “All Falls Down” and I was reading those lyrics and it’s almost like, I felt like that’s when I saw a little bit of the connection to where we’re at and where music is at. And I think it’s something that people are starting to see.

Like it’s hard to listen now to some of these songs that talk about murdering each other and all the misogyny and all these things and I’m like ‘wait a minute? Really? Oh so that’s [Ferguson] not okay, but that’s okay?’ And so I started thinking about that and with the cover it was like we were in rehearsal, and we were going to do a cover. So…we were going through songs and it just [snapped], I was like, “What’s Goin’ On,” it’s perfect for right now. And then when we did it I found some of the lyrics like ‘brutality’, so I changed them a little bit in my set.

I just try my best. I’m not a saint, I’m not perfect, I just try my best to use my platform as much as I can, you know, and I want to encourage people, it’s so important to vote and to be apart of the laws because we can talk about it on Twitter, we can talk about it on Instagram, but this is happening (right now), they just passed a law…

BOSSIP: Yeah in Chicago

EV: Can you believe…can you believe?

BOSSIP: that you can be arrested for filming the cops? It’s crazy

EV: I mean… I just… I don’t even know what to say. It’s tough, I understand, it’s tough for a lot of celebrities. They have things, contracts, and they have relationships, and it’s touchy, and it’s tough, you know, but…

BOSSIP: So you don’t feel any of that pressure? Of like ‘oh if I’m too outspoken about social issues, I can’t…

EV: Yeah I be [I’m] worried about the government coming to get me (both laugh).

BOSSIP: Is that more like how you’re raised, that makes you worried about the government coming to get you?

EV: No, no. I was raised in a very, what’s the word, not afrocentric, but like… aware; like my mom made me do book reports on everyone…I was aware of like culture, and so it’s always been important to me as an artist like, I see a bigger picture, I see what I represent for black women beyond what just I want out of it.

How refreshing is it to have an artist out here worried about the current state of world affairs unlike some of her peers who are more concerned with hooking up with other famous folks and walking around with fake hair and fake cakes?

We found it pretty nice, but Elle also told us that she feels a certain pressure from her audience not to do certain things she’d like to do, like change her hair or make a twerk video for example. Hit the flip for more on that.

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