Elle Varner, a 23-year-old R&B singer-songwriter from California, opened for J. Cole at the 2012 UNC Homecoming Concert Sunday night. Varner collaborated with J. Cole on her most recent album.
Staff writer Caroline Pate spoke to Varner about her life, her career and the future.
Daily Tar Heel: What is it like performing with J. Cole?
Elle Varner: We haven’t performed together yet — believe it or not.
DTH: What was your favorite part of performing at UNC?
EV: I could definitely tell there were a lot of people that didn’t really know who I was.
I could see in their faces. They were just like kids — so into it. I love seeing that pure joy that music gives to people. I saw that tonight and it was wonderful.
DTH: You have said your song “So Fly” is about your tough time with body image. Any advice for UNC students who might be going through the same thing?
EV: I just want to let them know … that it’s OK to have goals — physical goals. We all have them. “I want a tighter butt,” or whatever it is.
You just have to keep a healthy mindset about it and love yourself. Love yourself when you put on 10 pounds. Love yourself when you lose 10 pounds. Just love yourself.
DTH: Your parents are both musicians and now they have helped you record “Perfectly Imperfect.” What is that role-reversal like?
EV: Oh, gosh (laughs). The role reversal with my parents was so interesting. I’m like, “I’m grown!” But it’s really cool. I learned so much from them. We have such a friendship … So it’s really cool working with them. They’re cool people.
DTH: Have they influenced your music?
EV: Definitely, definitely. The things they played me growing up are part of my sound, what I like and what I come up with.
DTH: You have achieved a lot of success at an early age. Do you have any advice for other young hopefuls?
EV: My advice is to stay focused. You’re gonna get as much as you go for in life. Go for the big things, even if it’s early or you’re young or you’re scared. Take risks. That’s gotten me far.
DTH: You write your own songs. What is your songwriting process like?
EV: It depends. Sometimes I start with a melody. But a lot of times it’s like something happened. Maybe I broke up with a guy, and I just go to the guitar and find a way to deal with it.
DTH: What is next for you?
EV: In about two weeks I’ll be going on tour with Trey Songz and Miguel. I’m doing the Soul Train Awards. I got nominated for Best New Artist, so I’m excited about that.
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