Talks with Ellie Lawson
CEV: What were your feelings about music as you were growing up and how did music help you understand the world around you?
EL: My mum was always listening to and singing along to her favourite artists in the house and my dad was a musician so I was surrounded by music from early on! My Grandad played the classical piano very well and I was always in awe hearing him play. However, playing music myself always seemed out of reach to me as my parents split up when I was 5 and my Grandad wasn't keen on the 'kids' playing on his piano so I always had this yearning to find out what it was all about! So maybe I saw music as a way of getting to the meaning of life somehow and still do!
CEV: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer and performer of music instead of just a listener?
EL: I used to sing and make up songs on any piano I could find and was allowed to play. I would sing into a tape cassette recorder from as early as I remember at my aunts house, which I stayed at every other weekend with my brother. It was acapella singing and must have helped develop my singing and song writing skills early on! So it was something that I did naturally and that I loved to do but it wasn't until I was 17 that I realised I could persue it professionally and I started to work out how to get the music industry to listen to my songs!
CEV: Once you knew that you wanted to follow the path of a creator of music what did you do to get started?
EL: I started to figure out how I could get good recordings by working with every producer I could find. I started giving my demos to everyone I would accept them. I spent years finding backing tracks, then I taught myself to play the guitar and saved up and bought an 8 track to record my own demos and started looking for managers. I also did open mic's for years and started my own night.
EL: The first professional studio I went in was to do some demos for Rondor Publishing about 10 years ago, and I recorded 2 songs but then they were closing as a label so nothing became of it. That was an early intro to the 'let down' nature of the industry! But on a recording level it made me even more sure that this was what I loved doing and the possibilites of how professional a song can sound in the studio. Later on I went out to L.A. to record and found that to be a crazy experience. On the one hand it was amazing to be there with some great musicians but on the other hand it was not professional like I expected with a huge jar of weed on the go and some very very laid back people so that it took months to even get a few songs recorded!
My best experience in the studio was recently working with Ian Grimble on my EP Insights where I recorded with harp, double bass and string quartet. It's what I have dreamed about as an artists to work with an incredible producer like Ian and with that kind of music. It was so easy and enjoyable and it has made me realise how tough the recording conditions have been through a lot of my career! I really enjoy making demos myself and am glad I pursued that side of things and have just released my first album of songs I recorded myself called Resonance.
CEV: I think that vocals can often take electronic dance music to the next level if they are mixed properly. You have done some great vocal work on a number of electronic artist's releases which is brilliantly spotlighted on a release called Collected on Spotify . How was it that you got involved with this type of work and how is it different than working as a solo performer?
EL: I sent my music to a folk manager and he happened to know these trance producers in Amsterdam. So they heard my voice and I started working with them and it has been a very sweet experience. It's not that different from anything else I record. I like having all the effects put on my vocals, which they call 'putting on my make up! ha ha!. It feels effortless and I love the way the fans react to the recordings. In that genre they are really into the music and the artists which is gorgeous to be appreciated in that way and loved which is reflected in the messages I get, to performing live at clubs like Brixton Academy that I played at last year with Richard Durand and Ferry Corsten!
EL: It's like meditation really. Or day dreaming and being able to capture it! It's inspiring to feel that there is something deeper in life that needs to be said and to set everything up right so that it can come to you. I am inspired by many things in my life and in others lives, from learning lessons to saying things that are complex and trying to make them simpler. I love having this way of being to entertain myself and others by making the recordings!
CEV: You've recently released an EP called Insights and it has 5 great songs on it including a wonderful song called Back on Track. Was there a personal message in Back on Track in regards to your own life?
EL: Yes it was about feeling back in control of my life after many years of feeling lost (and writing and recording an album called Lost Songs) Its about being a creative person and how much we put into it, and despite everything art is priceless when it comes from a soulful place so I was affirming to myself and others that it's worth dedicating your life to.
CEV: The other titles besides Back on Track that were chosen for this EP seem to be a bit introspective in nature. How would you describe the songs in terms of what they represent at this stage of your development as a person and an artist?
EL: Songs like "I Know" are about following your intuition and "Try" is about giving your best whilst also being about a band member that went awol due to drugs. "Learn" is also about a similar type of person. It's a pretty chilled out set of songs and personal to me and my experiences. "Why" is totally different and about meeting a drunk guy in a nightclub! They represent my many sides from serious, quirky, sincere and optimistic!
CEV: Usually an EP means more music is in the works. Will your next release continue in the same vein as with what we see on Insights?
CEV: Do you tour your music and where might you be heading in the near future that your fans can catch you live?
EL: My main priority this year is writing but I may tour the UK in the summer or autumn. We will have a residency in London in the summer and so far have a surf festival booked : Tone Fest in the Free Peace Suite Stage!
CEV: As a final question what difference has music made to your life both as a listener and as a performer?
EL: Well the lyrics in my song 'I know' go, "I'm guided by the rhythm of the tide, I'm lost in music cause it's my whole life, I'm guided by the rhythm in my soul, they try to throw me, say that I don't know, but I know' . Music has been my whole life and my thought process and will continue to be. I just can't imagine it not being because the process of making music is so uplifting, magical and spiritual and as both a listener and performer it makes life enjoyable and meaningful, which is after all the main point of living other than reproducing!
CEV: Thanks so much Ellie for taking the time out to talk to CEV and I do wish you much success on your journey of music and life.