Luna Elle Is an Old Soul

How this musician honed her mature, Sade-esque sound and nabbed a Juno nom—all before turning 20

by leila el shennawy
photography by saty + pratha, hair and makeup by ms. myles, styling by chad burton/cadre artists. cardigan by michael by michael kors, skirt by tyrell, rings by biko, shoes by aldo, earrings by jenny bird

June 6, 2024

Luna Elle wasn’t born when the sounds of ’90s R&B first filled the airwaves. But during her childhood in Mississauga, Ontario, the era’s biggest hitmakers—think Toni Braxton and Brandy—were on loop, thanks to Elle’s older sister, Amy. “I loved the riffs and runs and hard-hitting production,” Elle says.

Aside from a distant cousin, Garth Hudson, the keyboardist from The Band, Elle was the only musically inclined person in her family, singing highly emotional tunes about her loved ones from the time she was four. She leaned into that hobby hard when she was stuck indoors during the pandemic, recording covers of Tamia’s “So Into You” and “Riot” by Summer Walker—the latter of which Amy posted on her Instagram.

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In October of 2020, the clip was spotted by Ken Asafo, a high school friend of Amy’s and co-founder of the indie label Hot Freestyle Records. He remembers being blown away by Elle’s contralto, which sounded like the second coming of Sade. “Her voice was soulful in a special way, especially coming from someone so young,” Asafo says. He invited Elle to record at his studio the following week. Within five months, he signed her.

Elle soon adopted her current moniker—partly inspired by Sailor Moon’s cat Luna and Elle’s given name, Michelle—and churned out songs about romances, both fairy-tale and failed, initially sourcing beats from YouTube and writing along to them. Then just 15, with few heartbreaks of her own to pull from, Elle cribbed some material from her friends’ occasionally dramatic love lives for her lyrics. “I made them vague enough,” she says.

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Elle’s big break came with her first single, “True Love,” when basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, of all people, posted a clip to his Instagram during the summer of 2021. (Caption: “She’s 16 years old with these vocals,” with a mind-blown emoji at the end.) After Shaq’s shout-out, Elle’s Instagram following grew from 10,000 to 50,000. She had a ready-made fan base by the time she released the 2023 single pack Coping Mechanisms, and her two EPs: Loss of Valuable Energy (L.O.V.E.) and Miss Elle. One of Coping’s tracks, “9 to 5,” netted a 2024 Juno nomination for traditional R&B/soul recording, making Elle one of the ceremony’s youngest nominees.

Finishing high school has allowed Elle, now 19, more time to perform (as she will across Ontario this summer) and polish another EP (also due this summer). She hopes her next drop will reflect her new creative maturity. “I want people who’ve been listening to me since I was 15 to be impressed by my growth as an artist,” she says. Ageless appeal is the goal. “My parents always told me that I’ve walked this Earth before.”

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