Elle Varner stopped by the Essence office in New York on Tuesday to give us an early listen to tracks from her forthcoming album 4 Letter Word.
If you've been following the 4 Letter Word series, you've already heard "Cold Case" and "See Me Tonight." You can tell the singer has been through some personal things since the release of her debut album Perfectly Imperfect in 2012, which featured bubbly, fun singles like "Only Wanna Give It To You" and "Oh What A Night." 4 Letter Word, however, will portray a darker look at love with tracks like "F*ck It All" and "Nothing" - a guitar-driven ballad that wreakes vulnerability. Even records that appear lighthearted -- like the uptempo "Don't Wanna Dance" -- reveal a heartbroken Varner.
Below, we speak to Varner about the space she's in musically.
Was 4 Letter Word more difficult for you recording your sophomore project?
When you make your first album, no one has ever heard of you, so you have all the time in the world and all the freedom. When you are making your second album, the clock is ticking. The pressure is high for you to deliver and out-do your first album. I [completed] this album in a week after a break up, but after I had been working on it for a year.
Has your writing process changed since being in a high-profile relationship? And are you done dating ball players?
This is my music and this is my life. I don't have any bad intentions and I have full love and respect, but I have to tell my story and no comment [on being done dating ballers.]
You consider your sound 'trap jazz.' If you could make a trap jazz group, with you as the lead, who would you choose?
I'd have to say, because I just worked with him, Chance The Rapper and his band Social Experiment. I'd love to be the singer for them.
What are some artists you are listening to right now that your fans might be surprised you like?
I don't know if people are up on Hiatus Kaiyote. And I listen to a lot of bands from Australia.
What beauty item are you obessed with right now?
Coconut oil. I've been using it all over my body and hair and face at night. Even though it's an oil it absorbs really fast and is very healthy for your skin, and you can eat it.
Elle Varner tells us she can't wait to perform tracks from her new album on the ESSENCE Festival Superlounge stage on Sunday, July 6. Get your tickets here.