Today we feature an interview with new UK country act ‘Jack and Ella’, who we are expecting big things from in 2017. The duo formed in the middle of last year and have made quite an impact already with their brilliant cover videos, so we couldn’t wait to catch up with them.
Hi Guys, first of all, tell us exactly who Jack and Ella are and how you got together?
Jack: Well firstly thanks for interviewing us, especially seeing as only half of our duo is a girl! I personally feel pretty privileged to be included in Belles and Gals! We’re a country music duo really but I guess some may call it rock or pop rock, depending on how you categorise music. We’re a little different from other UK country artists in that we were both brought up predominantly on rock music, and are guitarists first and foremost, and you’ll definitely hear this in our up and coming record. Neither of us feel comfortable without a guitar in hand.
Ella: We started playing in May last year (2016) – after meeting briefly at a young talent competition our dads took us to when we were sixteen. We barely spoke. I don’t even know how we ended up as Facebook friends, but it was a good thing we did because we started chatting again early last year after realising our common musical influences, which are scarily similar.
We’ve already seen some of your brilliant cover videos, but we understand there is some pretty big news coming up in early 2017?
Ella: There is. The thing is up to now we’ve only performed as a duo, but we’ve been spending the last few weeks getting our live band together and we have an awesome line-up of great musicians and friends. And as Jack said, we have a record coming out in a couple of months time – our debut EP. We’re really proud of it and just can’t wait to let everyone hear it now.
Jack: Yeah, we’ve been pretty vocal about it so it’s no real secret that we have this EP on its way. We actually wrote these songs back when we first started playing together frequently in May/June and started pre-production in the autumn but it was only really in December that we set aside time to record them properly. We did promise an EP back in September, which changed to November, and then January. So it’s a bit of a running joke whether we’ll actually ever release it. But we can assure you it’s on its way.
Has it always been country music for the pair of you?
Jack: Haha, no. For me it was very much the classic rock of the 70s and 80s that my dad brought me up on and I was always playing in alternative rock bands throughout school. The thing is I’ve always loved music with strong melodies, harmonies, a good story and heart. When I was growing up, teenage problems and the like were what made sense for me, which is why bands like Blink-182 appealed so much. But as I got older, things started to change and I didn’t feel the need to turn the gain up to 10 on my amp as much as I cared about vocal harmonies, tight instrumentals and a good story in a song that wraps in the listener as much as a good book wraps in the reader.
Ella: … I was a massive Busted fan.
Jack: She still is.
Ella: Going through my teenage years, I loved bands like Fallout Boy and Panic! at the Disco. I had a bit of an emo phase. Jack did too. I notice he left that out. He once dyed his fringe black.
Jack: Cheers for that, Ella!
Ella: Slightly strangely for a girl, I was really into guitar instrumentals and guitarists like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani were like gods to me. As I got to about sixteen I started playing in rock bands and discovered John Mayer’s music, which naturally led me to Keith Urban and the country scene.
Jack: I think with both of us it’s been a natural progression from rock to country, but we’ve never let the rock n roll / rock guitar element go.
At Belles and Gals we’ve already picked up on the fact that you have great interaction with your fans on social media and you are great fun to follow. How important do you see social media for musicians today?
Ella: It’s hugely important. What are people doing on the train, on lunch breaks? They’re on their phones. People don’t watch TV. Some people even only keep up with current affairs through social media. The thing is the world is just a different place to where it was 10 years ago. People don’t even buy records anymore. And I think any artist who’s switched on needs to embrace this new world we’re living in. There’s something amazing about being able to post a video you recorded on your iPhone and within a day it has thousands of views.
Jack: The fact is “breaks” don’t exist anymore and no one gets “spotted” by record labels. However, you can grow your following yourself, and then the music industry takes notice of you a little more. Also it’s nice to be more in tune with what the people who follow you want… because on Facebook and twitter, they tell you! That’s brilliant. I like to feel like we’re connected to people who listen to us.
How did both of you get started in the music industry. Singing in the shower, Jack? A hairbrush in front of the mirror, Ella?
Ella: I did to a cover of Stop Right Now by the Spice Girls when I was five! But really I started writing songs at quite a young age, when I started playing guitar when I was 10. As a teenager I was in a few bands, some good, some terrible! As an adult I didn’t really want to do music alone, and fell into working in TV (I’ve worked on shows like The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing). Music took a bit of a back seat, which I regret, but I won’t let that happen again. Over the last year I’ve rediscovered my love of music again and at literally the perfect time I found Jack… He’ll do, I guess!
Jack: Singing in the shower, most certainly. It’s been a weird journey for me. I actually started a health and fitness company in Central London back in 2011 which has been doing pretty well over the last few years. But similarly to Ella I rediscovered my passion for music again which had been pretty secondary to me from 2010-15. Life’s too short. I couldn’t stay in an industry that wasn’t fulfilling me anymore. So like many musicians I jumped in at the deep end and immersed myself in songwriting, guitar, music production and ultimately this band! Irrespective of what happens from here on out, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made and I wouldn’t trade being in this position (playing music in Jack + Ella and being involved in country music) for anything. I wasn’t going to wait until I was 40 to think to myself “Damn. I wish I’d pursued my musical dreams.”
If you had to choose one particular artist as an influence, who would it be?
Jack: You give me just one choice. That’s just mean! But without a doubt it would be Tim McGraw. He’s my favourite artist in the world, from performance to lyrics to production.
Ella: John Mayer is the artist who’s inspired everything for me from guitar to vocals to writing. He kind of blurs the line between commercial pop music and also music that only musicians really appreciate – the more technical side of things. I have such respect for him.
If you could look 10 years into the future, where would you like to see yourselves?
Jack: We’ll have to see. We’re hoping we’ll be a few albums in by that point and been on some great tours. We also hope to spend some time in the USA so who knows what could happen. At this point, we’re still new. We don’t even have a record out yet so it’s early days but we’re throwing ourselves into this so anything could happen.
Ella: Most importantly, I hope we’re still writing and singing songs together, and loving it as much as we do now. I’m sure we will be.
To finish, tell us something random about each of you!
Ella: I can lick my own elbow. It’s my only party trick
Jack: My second name is Daniel. Yep, Jack Daniel. Parents with a sense of humour for sure, though I don’t think they knew when I was born that JD would be my drink of choice as an adult. Funny old world.