Elise LeGrow is a musician and Canadian powerhouse whose worked has wowed R&B legends like Questlove. She’s just released the latest single, “Going Back Where I Belong” from her forthcoming debut LP, Playing Chess (out Feb. 16 via S-Curve), which taps The Roots, The Dap-Kings, and Betty Wright.
Because she’s our “Boss of the Week,” we asked LeGrow for her thoughts on work, life, and the pursuit of happiness.
What was your very first job?
I was a shopgirl at a clothing store. I was 14, but lied and said I was 16. Since it was already a failing business when I arrived, I did a lot of nothing, pretending to look busy when the boss was around.
What do you “call yourself” now?
I always say “singer” first because that’s my most true identity. Ultimately, I just wanna sing great songs. But I’m also a songwriter and getting better at it with practice.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
“100 percent of zero is zero.” When I was considering whether to hire a manager or an agent, I was confronted with the reality of having to share percentages of my income with each of those parties. One of the attractive things about being fully independent is that you don’t have to pay anyone! But unless you are truly able and willing to do all of that work yourself, you won’t generate any income at all.”
What does “success” mean to you?
When I was a kid dreaming of being a singer “when I grew up,” the idea of success was tied up a lot more with having stuff, inspired by my Barbie Dream Mansion, complete with a pink convertible and pool. Having mostly grown up now, my goals are a lot more experiential—performing to a packed house, spending leisure time with friends and family (and kitties), eating and drinking really well, traveling the world.
How do you manage stress?
Regular physical exercise has been a huge help to me. I’m currently training for my first 10km race, which will be along the Toronto lakeshore in May 2018. Also yoga, which eases aching muscles and hearts.
What do you wish someone told you when you were 21?
Buy more vintage! The saying “They just don’t make ’em like they used to” has never been more true than in fashion.
What inspires you and gets you out of bed in the morning?
I have an incredible network of artist friends who, by their own creative endeavors, inspire me to keep honing my craft. Also my non-artist friends who have been supporting me for years, coming out to shows, buying music, spreading the word. Without them I would never have made it this far.
Listen to the premier of “Going Back Where I Belong” right here.
Words: Jerico MandyburPhoto: Courtesy