It’s been three whole years since Laura Brooke Winter, professionally known as Elle Winter, released a project. Following 2020’s Yeah, No, and keeping listeners fed with various singles in between, the 23-year-old singer and actor finally dropped her sophomore EP, Yes Please, on March 24, which is a body of work that has been described as a “love letter to self-empowerment and the vulnerability that comes with it.” One day ahead of its release, EUPHORIA. caught up with Winter who returned to her native New York for some promo.
“I’m so excited,” she says about the aspect of Yes Please being unleashed in just a matter of hours. “It’s so cathartic to finally release something out in the world that I’ve been working on for what feels like a very, very long time. I’m just so excited to finally share it all.”
Yeah, No, a six-track EP penned during her late teens, and an era that Winter describes as her “jumping off point,” helped open her eyes to acknowledge the power of songwriting and how much further she could expand her talents as an artist. “I realized how much strength I could find in telling my own stories and being vulnerable and so open,” Winter explains. “I felt so strong after releasing that and especially seeing how it connected with so many people. I wanted to continue that messaging of empowerment and honesty.”
Three years on and Yes Please stays true to the playful pop sound Winter has always brought to the table. This time around, however, she’s taken a more vintage approach with both the visuals and sonics, providing more catchy hooks that were once made famous in the 1960s. “I found that just so inspiring to me because there were so many women just coming into their own, telling their stories, using their voices. And so I really wanted to channel that because I felt like it was such a good evolution for my last project by continuing to tell my own stories and empower myself and hopefully others,” she says.
And while we have seen a load of modern-day stars from Meghan Trainor, Bebe Rexha, and Doja Cat take inspiration from eras that happened way back when, this has always been something Winter has been keen to do, even before some of those said stars did such a thing. “I’d always wanted to explore this route. I remember when I was younger, I would beg producers and say, ‘Let’s sample a Motown song or try something.’ And it just wasn’t really what was going on at the time musically and it was hard for I think for people to take a chance on that,” she explains. “I think when I started performing my last EP, I would go out with a band and that would be my dream to go with background singers and make it a full show. And the music I grew up listening to, which is the music of Motown and the girl groups of the ‘60s and all those female artists, you know, their shows, I feel like their music was so well translated to live music. After performing my last project for a little bit live, I really want the emphasis to be on the musicality of it all.”
Embracing change is a pivotal message that is embedded within each of the songs. In the few years that have passed, Winter chose to start a new chapter by relocating from New York to LA. “I’m an LA girl now living across the country from my whole family who are my life,” she says. That big move fueled Winter’s fire to create her best work yet and really impacted the creative process. “All of these songs, while they’re telling different stories, they’re all really rooted in me putting myself first and having that freedom to do so,” she says.
Winter worked with Album of the Year-winning producers and songwriters Kizzo and Autumn Rowe, who played a big part in helping her vision to come to fruition. She explained how their working relationship came to be. “I have known Kizzo since I was like 14. But, I was living in New York and I was in school at the time. I would come for really short trips to work on my music when I would come to LA and he had worked on my past projects,” Winter says. Once she was permanently set up in LA, she made sure to get back in the studio with him, stating that they were “totally were in alignment with the vision.” Kizzo ended up introducing Winter to his collaborator Rowe, who contributed to the songwriting. “It was just an incredible, very like, stars-aligned type moment for this project,” she says. “It was so great, especially since I’ve known Kizzo since I was 14 in this full circle moment. To have worked on a whole project together was really special.”
“Help” became the first taste of what the Yes Please era had to offer, releasing it into the world in October 2022. Written about the pressures that come with growing up in the entertainment industry, Winter knows exactly what that’s like as she was thrust into the spotlight at such a young age and had to deal with high expectations very early on. At age 14, she was discovered by Radio Disney and took part in the fifth series of their The Next Big Thing program alongside other emerging talent, including sister duo Chloe x Halle, who ended up winning. Radio Disney came to find Winter after she started doing the rounds as a young entertainer. “I took an acting course and an agent came to the end-of-year showcase and discovered me there. They started sending me out to New York and around town for different work, then eventually that culminated in an audition with Disney and I sang them a bunch of original music,” she recalls. “The show was such a great fit for me because it was all about original music and showcasing up-and-coming artists.”
The program allowed Winter to release her own singles under Disney’s trademark, embark on a nationwide tour, and gained her a lot of press and public attention. Obviously, this opportunity was a dream come true for the aspiring fresh-faced teen who always had a passion and desire to perform. But, understandably, starting out on such a huge platform before knowing who she was left her feeling a certain type of way in the years that followed.
“It was a really crazy experience. I had grown up loving Disney Channel, like every young girl, and it was such a dream come true. But I think I had carried a lot of the pressure and that kind of pressure to be perfect into my personal life. And it was really hard for me to kind of distinguish the two,” Winter says. “That kind of inspired ‘Help’ and just letting myself know and realizing that it’s okay to be vulnerable to just ask for help and need support.”
She continues, “You don’t have to be perfect all the time and have everything all together. An acting coach told me that lot of these people who start in the industry at a very young age, they’re rewarded for being this perfect person and keeping it all together and not like being a real human. It’s hard to break that habit, really.”
Yes Please has a lot to offer when it comes to embodying female empowerment and standing for what you believe in. “Shop Around” is her own spin on The Miracles’ song of the same name. With the original written about mothers influencing their sons to shop around in order to see their options before settling on one person, Winter reassures listeners that men who go by this mentality are an instant red flag and their opinion that the grass is always greener on the other side is not her problem. “Rotation” is Winter’s way of getting back at her crush while “Don’t Blame It On My Boyfriend” hears her taking full control of her relationship and setting the record straight. Slowing down the pace from the mid-tempo bops, “Unusual,” which she refers to as her “slow heartfelt ballad,” is a romantic story about a boy that lived in the childhood building she grew up in for 20 years who she unexpectedly ended up falling in love with. “We met two nights before I moved to LA. He’d been living nine floors above me my whole life and I never knew him. He followed me to LA and inspired this project,” Winter says.
Among the six tracks, however, Winter credits “Help” as her personal favorite and one that she is most proud to say is one of her own. “I just find that song so cathartic and I had always wanted to write about that struggle and how I felt,” she says. “Sometimes you catch a moment and it really just all comes together. I had written concepts like that beforehand, but I think this really just brought it every element. I love that it really brings that story to life.”
If there’s one thing Winter wants people to take away from the EP, it’s that they continue to own themselves in the most authentic way possible. “I want them to feel strong in their truth and feel comfortable sharing their own stories and know that there’s so much strength in being vulnerable and not accepting anything less than what they deserve,” she says. “I think we all deserve such beautiful things in life and we can put our foot downs and speak our truth and we deserve that.”
Music has taken so much of Winter’s time recently that it seems she has put her acting career on the back burner. Having already secured roles in Three Generations, Code Red, and The After Party during the later part of the last decade, she is keen to jump back on board and explore further. “Yes, that is definitely my goal this year. Now that I’m in LA, it’s so important for me to be back out and doing all of that, so that is on my agenda,” Winter says. Her dream role? Something that blends both music and acting together, of course. “A Star Is Born,” she uses as an example.
Fashion too is an avenue she also has her eyes set on, especially after searching for different aesthetics to bring this EP campaign to life. “I love expressing myself through my style and especially with this project, I’ve had so much fun embodying the sixties look and this retro feel,” she says. “There’s been so much to explore and I’ve been just having a ball with that. I think that’s definitely something I wanna venture into.”
If there’s one thing that’s definitely on the cards for this year, it’s more live shows, particularly when her last EP came out as soon as an unexpected global pandemic hit us all, resulting in her having to settle on live streams for performances. “I’m so excited to finally be back on the road and just share this music with so many people,” she says. “During the last EP cycle, I luckily had performed it a bit on a tour a few months prior. But, I hope to be able to tour this and the last project too because I didn’t really get to do it properly,” Winter adds.