El is a freelance journalist covering music and culture with bylines in The Guardian, NME, BBC, Time Out London, Evening Standard and more. As well as profiling the likes of Robyn, Hayley Williams and St Vincent, she has a worryingly forensic knowledge of London’s many music venues – if you’re after the optimum crowd spot, sneakiest shortcut or fastest bar queue, she’s your gal. When she isn’t writing, El occasionally moonlights as a hand model and is currently compiling a personal ranking of every single sandwich in the capital. It’s an ongoing odyssey set to take a number of years but if you’re interested, the current winner is The Tony at Bodega Rita’s.
What does a journey mean to you?
For me, a journey is when you stumble across something beautiful by accident just when you’re ready to head back for the day – a jaw-dropping view hidden around the last corner of a long walk, or a Pat Butcher-themed cocktail bar tucked under a forgotten railway arch, just when you’ve decided there’s nowhere decent open. As much as I’m a meticulous planner, I love those moments that just happen to you.
Which country or location most inspires you?
I never seem to run out of new places to visit in Spain – I love the patchwork of cuisines, cultures and languages across each region. Andalucia has to be one of the most beautiful places in Europe, and I always seem to eat very well and get very merry when I visit Barcelona or Bilbao. I travel to both cities quite often for music festivals like Primavera, and Bilbao BBK Live, and in my humble opinion, Spanish festival-goers could teach us a few things in the UK. Though I recoiled in horror the first time I was offered kalimotxo at a botellón (translation: swigging coca-cola and red wine cocktails out of big bottles on the street) I have to say, they’re really onto something with that particular combination.
Where would you go back to and why?
I went to Hong Kong a few years ago for Clockenflap – a music and arts festival that takes place in the skyscraper-crammed Central district – and fell in love with the incredible street food, brilliantly weird takes on coffee (anyone for a Cucumberano?) and tiny record-shops hidden away inside residential buildings. I’d love to go back and pick up the exploring where I left off.
Top insider tip for London
For a moving and emotional day of incredible outsider art, head to the House of Dreams in East Dulwich. Tucked away on an unassuming South London street, Steven Wright has transformed his terraced home into a sculptural piece of art, using mosaic, found-objects and extracts from his own diary – the entire artwork is dedicated to his late partner and parents, and also incorporates donations from visitors who have lost somebody close to them. The artist still lives here today and personally runs tours of the inhabitable sculpture about once a month. If you’re lucky enough to be in town when the doors open, it’s a must-see – if not, go to nearby Champion Hill instead and cheer on my beloved Dulwich Hamlet F.C.
What journey would you most like to go on?
A road trip around Mexico – mostly following my stomach, it must be said.