Following her debut single ‘Golden Boys’ (placed on Glastonbury’s long list for emerging artists 2014) London based alt-pop singer Ella On The Run releases her debut EP War Of Words today filled with synthy beats laced with chilled out vocals, written and recorded alongside Matthew Bang (former engineer for Interscope and Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group).
Having just played The Old Queen’s Head in London last Wednesday we thought it would be worth having a chat, so we did.
You are of Swiss, French and South-African origin. How do these multiple cultural identities come to play in your music?
Having a multi cultural background has certainly been a privilege in many ways. I grew up speaking different languages, traveling and learning about foreign cultures and people. I am very openminded to new and unexplored things, and I try to do the same with my music.
You studied at Berklee College of Music – so was music always the plan?
Originally yes! I graduated high school and I told my parents I would only go to College if it was that one. Luckily I got in! Once there, I majored in Music Business Management and worked in the Industry for a while after graduating. That is why pursuing a career of my own got sidelined for a while. One day realised I was doing all these things for other musicians, when I could be doing them for myself. It just took a while to get back to plan A.
How did ‘Ella On The Run’ come about? How did you meet Matthew?
I got to a point where I realised that I had nothing to lose but everything to regret. So I packed my bags and flew to LA to write and record some songs with Matt in June last year. Matt also attended Berklee College of Music as an engineering major, and we were thick as thieves back then. We had already written together plenty of times at school, so it was an obvious choice to work with him again. He has been doing great out in LA, working for Interscope and Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group as well as pro-bono work for a non-profit organisation called Idle Tuesdays. Once I came back home, I realised that what we had created in such a short amount of time – 5 songs in 2 weeks – was absolutely amazing. I love writing with Matt, because we complement each other really well and he’s a great guy and friend.
I have worked very hard on the project ever since, and one opportunity has led to the next, thanks to great support from my family, friends and great magazines like Spindle!
Our pleasure Ella! So how did your working relationship with Lukasz begin
Lukasz was introduced to me by his manager whom I knew through friends. I played her my songs in the early stages to get some advice, and she felt that they had something special but needed a more European sound. I sent Lukazs my first single, Golden Boys, to work on and I was blown away with the result. He has produced all my beats ever since. He is a real talent and joy to work with.
Your sound is poppy, synthy, electronic…why do you think this is your sound?
To be honest, my sound could have been anything from reggae to singer/songwriter as I have written in all those genres. The reason my sound is more pop-synthy is largely down to the fact that I was listening, and still am, to that kind of music when I started writing. Artist like Banks, Nikki and the Dove, Jessie Ware etc really inspire me. Lukasz also had a huge impact on my music by adding the Scandinavian pop-synth beats that make my sound what it is today.
What did you grow up with? Who influences/inspires you?
I grew up listening to everything… literally. I would sing along to Bizet’s Carmen as well as the Gypsy Kings and Madonna. Later on I became obsessed with Ace of Base, TLC, Lauren Hill, Chakka Khan, Donnie Hathaway etc. I am a 90’s kid! People who inspire me today are predominantly the ladies! I think there are some seriously talented and fierce woman doing their thing. They have strong creative visions and it is clear that those visions are their own and not imposed by labels as it used to be. For example, FKA Twiggs, Banks, Lykke Li, Lorde, Lana, Kyla La Grange and even Taylor Swift. I aspire to do the same with my work.
The song, ‘War Of Words’ is it a metaphor for society or just a personal tale?
No, it’s a personal tale. Or at least it pulls from personal experiences in which I was directly involved or a third party. Of course, one could call it a metaphor for society as well! I really want listeners to make their own subjective interpretations. so whatever they feel it represents for them, that’s what it is.
Who are you having a War of Words with?
I don’t kiss and tell, or in this case fight and tell I do think its applicable to any type of relationship, be it with a parent, a friend or a partner.
Fair play, a true lady. Your EP is out today! Tell me, what is the EP as a whole all about?
Relationships! The romantic and exciting parts in the beginning (Star Lion), the wobbly bits in the middle (Rodeo Clowns) and the deterioration in the end (War of Words)… Sounds quite depressing when I put it like that – don’t worry I do believe in happy endings!
It is a journey…What inspired your music and your words? What sort of personal experiences create good stories for songs?
All experiences are good for songwriting, it just depends which ones impact you more. I find that I am most inspired by the mood I am in on the day I write, as well as the place I am writing in and above all who with. If you like co-writing, like I do, you have to intrinsically trust the other person, because you sometimes have to explain where certain lyrics come from and that can get very personal. I also get very inspired by other songs. I tend to make a playlist that reflects the vibe I am going for and then listen to it before I start writing.
We are a fashion and music magazine – could you tell me how you see the connection between the two?
I love fashion but I would not consider myself very fashionable. My style is very quirky at times and I love to juxtapose things, like wearing a flowing dress but accessorising with punky jewellery. I think I do the same with some of my music. War of Words has quite dark lyrics, but it is set over an almost happy beat at times. In general, I find that all arts are related, be it fashion, visual art or music. Just like with fashion, music has “trends” that mainstream artists follow and then there are the few that push the boundaries of what is commercially accepted. It is thanks to those people in all the arts, that we keep evolving.
What influences your style?
I have many friends who work in fashion, so mostly I see something I like on them! I also get inspired by celebrities and fashion bloggers and above all the things I see on Instagram. I don’t actually read that many fashion mags anymore. I do love to shop when I am abroad, as it always feels more special coming home.
Words: Irune ‘Rue’ Chamberlain