Elles de Graaf was born on 20 September 1974 in the idyllic Dutch town of Alkmaar. With her highly distinctive voice and energetic live performances, Elles has been one of the most popular female singers in the trance scene for more than 10 years. Many of her collaborations with internationally successful DJs and producers such as Ferry Corsten, Bobina, Blank & Jones, Marcel Woods and, of course, Armin van Buuren have become true trance classics.

Ever since her childhood, Elles has pursued the dream of making a living from her greatest passions: music and dance. During her teenage years, she was trained at Lucia Marthas’ acclaimed Amsterdam Ballet Academy, where she was given the opportunity to explore and develop her talents. Elles: “I totally dedicated myself to dancing, singing, acting and all that was offered.” After graduating, she appeared in numerous TV and theatre productions, worked as a model for fashion and commercial and gained her first experience as a backing vocalist. Apart from being on stage, she also gave dance classes and founded her own agency called ‘Concert Building’ for shows and choreographies.

It was just after the turn of the millennium, when new doors were opened for Elles. The young Dutch producer Armin van Buuren, a rising star in the trance scene at that time, needed vocals for an instumental track he had worked on. He asked the songwriter/producer duo Raz Nitzan and Adrian Broekhuyse, who got in touch with a new singer a friend had suggested to them. Her name was Elles de Graaf. They recorded her very first trance vocals, which would later become her immediate breakthrough – ‘The Sound Of Goodbye’ was born. A couple of months passed before the single was released under Armin’s Perpetuous Dreamer alias. It turned out to be a global smash hit, including a #1 on the US Billboard Club Chart. The second single ‘Dust.Wav’ followed in 2002. Although it failed to achieve the same success as ‘The Sound Of Goodbye’, Armin feared that Perpetuous Dreamer might become too commercial for his image. Elles: “I had a great chance to show myself to the world and that experience will stay positive, although things were running strange afterwards”.

Elles’ career, however, had only just begun. Raz and Adrian began to write songs for the ‘Elles de Graaf’ trance project. In late 2003, her solo debut ‘Circles Of Why (Without You)’, produced by Greg Murray, was released and marked the starting point of a whole string of vocal anthems. One of them was ‘Mind Of The Wonderful’ with Blank & Jones, the lead single of their 2004 album ‘Monument’. Accompanied by a video clip shot in Berlin, the track spent twelve weeks on the German sales charts and peaked at #26. Further releases included Empyreal Sun’s ‘From Dark To Light’, Ferry Corsten’s ‘Show You My World’ (one of Elles’ personal favourites) and the Kosheen cover ‘Catch’ (with Blank & Jones again). In 2007, Elles’ collaboration with Russia’s #1 DJ Bobina, ‘Lighthouse’, became an airplay hit across Europe and also entered the Russian Top 40.

Later that year, ‘The Sound Of Goodbye’ made an impressive comeback. Armin van Buuren, who had been voted the ‘World’s Most Popular DJ’ in the meantime, decided to re-release their classic with new remixes. Moreover, Elles joined the ‘Armin Only – Imagine’ world tour in 2008, in which she performed ‘The Sound Of Goodbye’ in sold-out venues all over the globe. One particularly memorable moment was the final show in the Los Angeles Sports Arena on New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – in front of 35,000 trance lovers! Elles: “The stage became a second home, being on stage from such an early age. When I’m nervous, that disappears the moment I step onto the stage.” Besides several musical and show projects in Mexico, Singapore and Macau, globetrotter Elles was also booked for gigs in Malta, Russia (at ‘Bobina Extended’) and the Middle East.

Back in the Netherlands, Elles is not only celebrating her 10th year in trance music. Recently, she founded two new agencies: ‘Louder Bookings’ for trance vocalists (such as Ana Criado, Cathy Burton and Ellie Lawson), and ‘Dance Holland’ for choreographies and dancers. As for music, Elles is currently busy working on a very special ‘Trance Classics’ album. The first single ‘Tears From The Moon’ is scheduled for a release in September.

(August 2011)