The singer returned to Popdust to talk about the release of his new single "Need To Know."
Since we last spoke, Jamaal Jones, better known as Atlanta crooner ELHAE, released his sophomore album, wrapped up his first-ever sold-out headliner tour, kicked off summer 2020 with a slick new song featuring MONSTA X's I.M., and got super into TikTok.
"That's where all the kids are right now," the singer said. "I actually have realized it's also the perfect outlet just for who I am as a person." All these accolades aside, ELHAE is still considered by many to be an R&B underdog. All Have Fallen was presented as an amalgamation of rap and R&B, and emerged as part of the 2010's wave of artists who could rap and sing. But his sophomore effort Trouble In Paradise had all the makings of an R&B classic, with ELHAE fully exploring the potential of his voice. The album secured ELHAE's following, but it didn't quite pop off the way he wanted it to. "I never cry over spilled milk, but I feel like the label could have done more," he said cautiously. "I had a lot of different obstacles being on the label, but I'm currently independent now, and I'm in a place where things are looking up."
How was your first tour experience?
It was amazing but pretty exhausting. But at the end of the day, that's what you sign up for. It's one of the most fun parts of being an artist I think, but definitely exhausting.
"Need To Know" is really popping off. How did you connect with MONSTA X?
A lot of K-Pop artists talk to their fans on this site called V Live, and I.M. said on the groups live stream that he really wanted to work with an American artist named ELHAE, and that he was a huge fan.
It was pretty cool! Then one of his fans screenshotted that exchange and shared it to me via Twitter. I thought it [was casual] when I first saw it, but then I realized: this guy isn't just a fan, he's a superstar.
So how did you end up actually working with I.M.?
Well, I responded to that tweet, and then that day I got an e-mail from MONSTA X pretty soon after. The engagement and interaction from the fans really brought us together. So I worked on "Horizon" with them all through 2018, and it finally came out in 2019.
Were you able to meet up in person ever?
On their most recent U.S. tour last year I went to their show in Atlanta, and I was blown away. Three hours, non-stop singing and dancing. So I reached out to I.M. after that. When he got back to Korea he laid it out for me.
What made you think "Need to Know" was the song for him?
I know a lot of MONSTA X's fanbase are teens and young adults, and statistically, I have an older, woman *laughs* fanbase, and "Need to Know" was really the only single off this project that had an adult theme but didn't come off explicit, that people would think it's cute. So I got a TikTok, and I'm just trying to grow with the times.
What has the reception been like versus the reception for Trouble In Paradise?
A lot of fans are actually coming in and being like "this is amazing, but have you guys heard any of his older stuff?" That's kinda always what you want, for people to come in and vouch for you, and to tell people you're not a one-hit type of guy.
Aura III still in the works?
It's pretty much done. It's more about reflection at this point. Aura started this whole journey for me.
Is their still trouble in paradise?
*laughs* Nah I'm in a good situation now. A lot of my earlier career was based off traumatic heartbreak, and now I'm able to open up more than I have before. I just feel like, after that trauma, it took a long time for me to get past that. It's been 6 years, and I finally feel like I'm able to fully open up at this point.
Need to Know