SHE is a vibrant and restless artist putting out…
some incredible music right now. Ebru Ellis talks me through her latest single, Blocks, and how it came together. I ask whether there is more material coming; what it was like working with Nathaniel & Nait on her new cut; what it was like, in fact, working with Sam Smith and Craig David; the artists who have inspired her to make music – whether she has any tour plans for the coming months.
Ellis discusses her role in the London Community Gospel Choir and how early music came into her life; some new artists that are striking her ear; the three albums that are most important to her – and some personal goals she hopes to achieve before the end of 2018.
Hi, Ebru. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m really good, thank you…
Ok. So, my week has been a mixture of trying to get back into the U.K. time-zone after coming back from my trip to Las Vegas (which was amazing!); getting to grips with requests regarding a Blocks music campaign - whilst preparing to start rehearsals for a live performance U.K. radio promo tour.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hi, everyone! My name is Ebru Ellis and I am a singer/songwriter from London who has a love and passion for music and people. Oh, and food: can’t forget my love for food!
Blocks is your new single. Tell us about the story behind that track...
Blocks is really (just) a song of encouragement for anyone who has had or about to face setbacks while pursuing their dreams. It’s about not allowing other people or situations determine what your identity should be and whether you are good enough or not. Self-belief is really important - as that will be the fuel to help you overcome any kind of negativity or delays.
It is a powerful and restless song. It sounds like it is destined for success! Did you know, when listening to it back, it would sound so urgent and fresh?!
Thank you! I didn’t really focus on how it would sound during the creative process until I poured my heart and soul into it - and then listened back to it only to realise how happy I was with it. You have to allow the creative process to take place - otherwise, planning for it to sound a certain way can make the song become too mechanical; lack transparency and emotion.
What was it like working alongside Nathaniel & Nait on the track?
Being friends with my management’s production company; it made the process of working with them absolutely organic. They are so amazing and gifted. I’ve never worked with a team before where we clicked from the get-go - and there was so much chemistry. I felt free to be myself to show great ideas and the crap ones too and I think that is really important when writing songs.
They understood me as an artist and, as a result, we wrote my E.P. in four days.
Has it been tricky transitioning from (providing) backing for the likes of Craig David and Sam Smith to stepping out alone?
Not at all! Working with such incredible artists gave me an insight into the life (of what it takes) to work hard and focus to make it. It also gave me a better understanding of what it is like being a female in the industry.
What were those experiences like? Was it pretty daunting singing alongside such big names?
No. I didn’t find it daunting in the slightest. I was super-excited and grateful to be given those opportunities. Every little experience helps you grow in your craft: it looks great on your biography and people have more respect for you.
You are an honorary member of the London Community Gospel Choir. Have you sung alongside them? How does it feel to have that honour?
I’ve loved the London Community Gospel Choir since I was seventeen-years-old and they’re like my singing family and friends. It is an absolute honour to sing with them when I get the call. The standard is high so, to get in, you’ve got to be on your ‘A’-game. They are all so incredibly talented - and it always stretches me vocally because they sure do not hold back!
Will there be more music coming? Can we expect an E.P.?
Oh, for sure! My E.P. will be out this year and I cannot wait for everyone to hear it! There are some real banging tunes on there - that are songs straight from the heart - and at least one song that everyone can relate to, and own, as their anthem.
Are there particular musicians who inspired you growing up? How early did music come into your life?
I grew up listening to the likes of Destiny’s Child, Whitney Houston; Mariah Carey, Celine Dion; Jill Scott, Aretha Franklin…and the list can go on. Top of the Pops was my favourite show for hearing new music and discovering artists! I would get £1 a day as pocket money for school and, instead of spending it on penny sweets like other kids, on some days I would save it and buy singles - which were on cassette at the time for 99p!
Although I don’t remember when I started; I just know that, on a daily basis, it became such a big part of my world. I would sing getting ready for school; I sang on the way to school, I would sing in class and, obviously, sing when I got home - to the point where every day my parents would shout up to my room: “Ebru; that’s enough now!”.
So, maybe I came out of the womb singing instead of crying. I must ask my mum! L.O.L.
IN THIS PHOTO: Sincerely Wilson
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
You have to keep an eye on the likes of Sincerely Wilson - who recently sang alongside Wretch 32 - and has such a smooth, sultry voice (and his range is ridiculous!). You can check him out on YouTube. You will also love Ricardo Williams if you love real R&B. His new single is currently being played on Radio 1xtra. His vocals will make you pull some ugly faces - and get you all up in your feelings!
If you had to choose the three albums that mean the most you; which would they be and why?
Destiny’s Child – The Writing’s on the Wall
This album helped mould my love for R&B music - and I loved how the whole album told a story!
Spice Girls – Spice
This album helped me in search of my identity as a young girl and assured me that it was okay to be myself…and that diversity is a beautiful thing.
Christina Aguilera – Christina Aguilera
This album meant the world to me because Genie in a Bottle was the first song I ever sang as a solo artist (when I was thirteen-years-old). I saved up my money to buy this album and cannot tell you (the amount of) times I played it over and over again. Her vocals stretched me to another level!
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
At the moment, I’m in preparation with my band for a promo tour up and down the U.K. - specifically for radio. However, I will definitely be doing shows later on this year as I am already in the process of rehearsing with a live band. I will be sure to post dates, once confirmed, on my social media (so keep your eyes peeled!).
What do you hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
Well. Being a proud female British artist; I hope to achieve lots of success and acceptance with the release of my style of music. I would love to see development and growth of my fan-base - even more so this year. I hope my songs will personally inspire and influence others that might have, or about to face, setbacks in life. I’d also love to tour in quite a few countries and engage with people from cultures around the world.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Most of my favourite memories are usually made in the studio! Firstly, that’s where I discovered my true love for coffee - because I needed something to keep me awake during the fourteen-hour writing and recording sessions! L’OR is a great choice for instant coffee by the way - and I’ve discovered the trick to making a microwave coffee taste like coffee-shop coffee. After you add the milk to the coffee; microwave it for a minute so that when you add the water: it gives you a nice froth on the top.
Sshh…don’t tell anyone - and you can thank me later! Haha.
On a serious note, though; one time I was losing my voice in the studio after recording so much and I was feeling insecure about hitting a high note. I prayed that my voice would recover quickly. I decided to relax for a few moments and start again and it was one of the best emotional performances I have ever given in a song!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
H.E.R. - Best Part (ft. Daniel Caesar)
I absolutely love this song because the music is so stripped back that you can really hear the emotions in the vocals. I don’t know how, but it makes me feel like I’m in love (even though I’m not yet) every time I listen to it! Now that is what you call the power of music!
Follow Ebru Ellis