Aussie dance/pop songstress Elen Levon has experienced plenty in her tender 18 years. She’s starred on TV, been one fifth of a pop group, travelled the world and even performed to a billion people in a language that’s far removed from her own.
With a swag of experience already under her tiny belt, she signed to the almighty Ministry Of Sound a couple of years ago, and since then has seen her star slowly but surely beginning to sparkle. Recently releasing solo single No.3, ‘Dancing To The Same Song’, we decided it was high time we sat down for a natter with Elen to discover where she’s been… and where she’s headed next.
“Well I basically started singing at the age of three,” she reveals. “I started singing in the car one time and mum said that I was quite good. That turned into more vocal lessons, more training – about 36 hours a week – not at three, obviously.”
All that training must have paid off. She made the grade as a member of the short-lived Aussie pop outfit Panjo 5 – a spin-off project from a kids’ series on Nickelodeon. They released just two singles (‘Move’ and ‘Stay Closer’).
“We were together for about two years, but then in November 2009 we split up,” she says, adding wryly, “Like pop groups do.”
But Elen dismisses our suggestions that perhaps Panjo 5 were set up as Australia’s answer to British outfit S Club 7, who also were also launched off the back of a TV series.
“Oh gosh, no! It was nothing like that. We were just a pop group doing our thing, singing pop music, but I don’t think it was chasing the same kind of audience as S Club 7,” she says.
When the band broke apart, Elen was left wondering where the road would take her next. Not many people in the Australian music industry are afforded a second chance.
“You know what? That was one of the most tough and critical times in my life,” she admits. “I’d just turned 15 and I’d had such an amazing opportunity at such a young age, I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was probably one of the most depressing times of my life. I cut my hair short and I went all funny.
“But then my manager from the pop group called me and said she still wanted to work with me and asked if I’d like to be a solo artist, so I said ‘yes’. I was amazed that she did that and so then we got into it again.”
That latest chapter in Elen’s career was made possible via a new solo deal with global giant Ministry Of Sound.
“My management pretty much introduced me (to Ministry) and we started recording. We recorded with Israel and came up with ‘Naughty’,” she says, explaining why she chose the track as her debut single.
“Everybody felt that that was the best way to go to introduce me as far as musicality, as far as being 16 and wanting to have fun and be carefree. It was just about getting a fun, carefree message out there to everyone.”
‘Naughty’ was followed earlier this year by the smashing pop track ‘Like A Girl In Love’.
“We worked with James Ash from the Rogue Traders on ‘Like A Girl In Love’,” Elen tells us. “It was set up through the label – I went into the little studio at the back of his house which is really cute, they played me the song and I basically fell in love with it.”
Elen’s currently on the promo trail for her recently-released third single ‘Dancing To The Same Song’ – a track she describes as another step up. It was penned with the boys from US electropop duo 3OH!3 during a recent writing trip.
“They’re just the funniest guys ever,” she enthuses, “And we ended up coming up with an amazing song that’s the new single!
“We worked with Brian Kennedy, who’s worked with Rihanna and Chris Brown. He wrote ‘Forever’, which is his biggest hit, and Rihanna’s ‘Disturbia’, which is one of her biggest hits and he won a Grammy Award for it. I also worked with John Levine, who’s an absolutely amazing writer and we wrote a brilliant ballad.”
But though it’s clear she’s been working feverishly on her music, also writing with Robert Conley and Brian McFadden, there’s still no sign of that debut album just yet.
“Well basically we’re in the process of figuring out when we want to make the album,” Elen divulges. “We want to sit down for a week and work out all the collaborations and the writers and producers, what we want to do, what direction we want to go in and hopefully it’ll all just happen from there.
“I’m not going to rush it and I’m not going to take a massive amount of time to do it either. We have a lot of songs. We haven’t really decided yet what we want to go with for the fourth single, but hopefully another writing trip will come about.”
It’s taken patience, perseverance and a whole lot of talent for Elen Levon to get to where she is right now in her career. Three kicking dance/pop singles that all deserve much more attention from mainstream media are just the start in what many predict will be a long and successful career. But there’s one thing in particular about said career thus far that surprises her most.
“It’s probably how far we’ve come in the short space of time I’ve had from being 16 to 18 and I mentioned it today… It completely astounds me that we got invited by the government of China to go and perform there. I got to perform my singles on a show that was broadcast to a billion people. That was an amazing moment.”
We get the feeling that given the ride so far and Elen’s still tender years, those ‘amazing moments’ will continue for her long into the future.
Elen’s singles ‘Naughty’, ‘Like A Girl In Love’ and ‘Dancing To The Same Song’ are all available digitally now.