Elle Darlington is sipping PG Tips from a mug so massive it covers half her face.
“H&M home,” the musician says, Zooming in from her home in East London, a salt lamp radiating warmth in the background. “It’s giving big autumn vibes right now; I’ve got this knitted jumper, a candle burning. It’s nice.”
Today marks the release of 20-year-old Elle’s debut single Wish You Would, a super-smooth, soulful pop earworm about a holiday fling: “I was in a long-term relationship before writing this song,” she says. “We broke it off and I was healing for a while, then I went on a writing trip to LA and came back feeling so inspired.
“I went on a night out with my friends and met this guy, which I was so excited about. Then the song wrote itself! I wanted it to be fun and full Mariah.”
When it comes to music, Darlington emulates Mimi in more ways than one: there’s poignant, hopeless romance, sure, but also powerhouse vocals, which she’s been showing off via TikTok since she was 16. Now, Darlington has over one million followers on the platform.
This is a skill she sharpened up at BIMM Music Institute in Manchester, “which kind of prepared me for city life,” Darlington says, having grown up in a small town in North Wales – even though she’d been taking singing lessons since the age of five, followed by plenty of musical theatre. Moving to London at 17, after, then, was all about edging one step closer to pop stardom.
“Once I moved to London, the writing sessions amped up,” Darlington continues. “I’ve been writing now for two and a half years, working on this project. Wish You Would, then, is just the beginning.
“I’m so excited!” Darlington says, smiling. “I’ve done music all my life, and I’m so happy to finally put things out there and for people to know what I’ve been working on. This is the start of the journey.”
10% What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?
I write all my songs about personal experiences and I kind of draw from everything. It could be a crazy club night or going out with my friends, starting new relationships. I want people to get in their feels, have a little cry.
20% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
This is really cliché but: “Trust your gut”. Especially for me in this industry, it’s easy to read comments and get caught up. I always need to trust I know what’s best for myself.
30% If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?
If I was trying to impress anyone, I wouldn’t be cooking! Probably the only thing I can make is a good veggie spaghetti bolognese, with some mozzarella on top for garnish.
40% So what would you do to impress someone?
I’d write them a song or make them a playlist. That’s the way to my heart, so maybe I’d do that for somebody else.
50% Love, like, hate?
I love it when my friends come up and hug me out of nowhere. It makes me feel so loved! I like chocolate. I hate toxic men.
60% What’s the most memorable DM you’ve ever received?
I once had this guy DM me loads of messages on a rant about how fake my veneers looked. I don’t even have veneers – these are my teeth! I was like, rude, but thanks.
70% What’s your dream holiday destination?
I really want to go to the Maldives. Me and my mum have this dream of going there together; she turns 50 and I turn 21 the same year. We need to go for a big birthday bash.
80% What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?
Leaving my laundry until I have no clothes left to wear. It’s not very adult of me. I don’t have a dryer, so what do you expect me to do?
90% If you could go back in time and watch any musician perform, who would it be?
It would have to be Whitney Houston. I need to see those vocals live. She’s unmatched.
100% What can artists do to help save the world?
Carry on doing what they’re doing. Art and music is something that saves people’s lives every day.