She was educated at John Casablanca's College in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is fluent in both written and spoken English. While in Vancouver, she attended the New Talent Singing Awards Vancouver Audition in 1998 with her birth name of Hsiao Ya-Chih (蕭雅之). She became one of the 12 finalists but did not place in the top 5. She sang CoCo Lee's "Love Me A Little Longer (Chinese: 愛我久一點)". In that competition there were 3 other Taiwanese recent singers, 183 Club member Jacky Chu (祝釩剛), who was the winner, DJ Ruby Lu (盧春如), 1st Runner-Up and Michelle*Vickie (蜜雪薇琪) member Michelle Hsu (now known as Mimi or Michelle). In 2010, she admitted to receiving double eyelid surgery at a media event, after years of speculation from netizens.
Elva was originally signed to Virgin Records Taiwan, a sub-label of EMI, which created the Chinese stage name (蕭亞軒) for her. Her self-titled début album in 1999 sold over 1 million copies in Asia and cemented her status in the Chinese music industry.