Lindsay Ell Interview, London 8th October 2017 – Conducted by Lesley Hastings

Canadian born, now Nashville based Lindsay has had a work schedule this week that makes me exhausted just thinking about it!! In the UK to play several shows for London’s “Country Music Week” (my review of her Monday set can be found here) she has also flitted over to the continent in between her UK commitments and is rounding off her trip with two dates in Ireland. But fortunately she found time to chat to me before her “Bluebird Cafe” show at Bush Hall, and what a fun time we had! It was made all the more interesting by the “mood lighting”….well in fact someone, somewhere turned the lights in the interview room right down and I had to use Lindsay’s phone as a torch to read my questions!! Teamwork as Lindsay said!! Happy reading……

Can I start by congratulating you on the recent announcement that you’re playing the Spotlight Stage at next year’s Country to Country festival? What does this mean to you?

Thanks! Yes I found out about this just a few weeks ago, so I didn’t have to keep it secret for too long ! Being able to officially announce it on stage with Mr. Bob Harris was a lot of fun. It’s so incredible and such an honour,  I have wanted to play C2C in London for a LONG time! This is my third time playing here in the UK, everyone is just so passionate about music, I fell in love with the fans over here the first I toured here with The Band Perry and ever since it’s been an infatuation with my heart! Every time I leave I can’t wait to come back, and I’m so excited about C2C.

How do audiences here compare with those back home?
I definitely notice a difference! They LISTEN, and even as a guitar player they watch me play, whenever I loop things they’re just so intrigued! I’m just like “can I put you in my back pocket and take you home with me?”.  I’m in love with the audiences here!

Sadly I couldn’t make your headline show at the Borderline this week, how was that for you?
It was awesome! It still baffles my mind that I released a record a couple of months ago and across the world I have fans who have fallen in love with it, have learnt the words to the WHOLE record and are singing along to my WHOLE show! Not just the single, not just one special song, my heart was so full! Its been a difficult week, after Las Vegas, and playing that show at the Borderline was such a good reminder of why we all do this….why we go to see shows because of the love of music and how entertaining and soul filling it is, and why I play shows, for the same reasons you know. Its so unfortunate when things like what happened in Vegas destroy that because it’s sacred, what we share as artists and audiences.

Yes, I was going to ask you about the tragic events in Vegas that shook the entire world but the country music world in particular, it may sound like a cliche but we really are one big family aren’t we?  Was there any doubt in your mind that you’d continue with all your shows this week?
Yes we really are one big family. Whenever anything tragic happens it’s awful, but this one felt so close to home. I had so many friends who were there, I’ve played that stage, I could envision it. My boyfriend was playing there on Saturday night. Jason Aldean’s band used to be my first producers when I came to town, I texted them right away. Hearing everyone’s reports of what happened, it broke my heart.
You were so far away from them all too……
Right! I felt like I couldn’t do anything
Did you feel like jumping on a plane and going home?
A little bit but I knew I couldn’t , I had to be here and I’m so excited to be here but again throughout the week it’s just brought light on why we do this as entertainers, and how amazing fans are to come to the shows.
Maybe you carrying on with the shows was the way you COULD help….
Exactly true! Not letting things like that affect us … human beings we’re going to continue living our lives and we’re not going to let somebody like that take our love away, take our passion away.

What do you miss most about home when your away touring?
I’ve been on he road so much this year, it’s been awesome and incredible, I’ll probably have played over 200 shows by the end of the year. The things I miss the most are little things, like my pillow and having a fridge accessible at all times, something when you’re home you take for granted!

Moving on to your album now, since you were last here you’ve released “The Project” which has been really well received hasn’t it? It got to no. 4 on the US country music charts?
It actually debuted at no. 1!
Did it? OMG, sorry about that!!
You’re fine!! It was a crazy release weekend. I’m 28 years old and I feel like this record has been the last 16 years of my life! Ever since I really started playing shows I feel like elements of it have been trying to come out. In the past I’ve released a couple of singles and demos I’ve made from out of the back of my car but this was the first project. I’m so grateful to my producer, Mr Kristian Bush from Sugarland as we all know and love him….he’s just so smart and brilliant, I really think he was able to hold my hand throughout the album making process. Sometimes as an artist it’s a weird feeling to walk into a studio, its like you go through this little crisis moment and think “I need to make an album but I don’t know EXACTLY what to say and EXACTLY how to say it .“ Especially on a first album that’s going to define me. Kristian was the perfect person to guide me through that process, not tell me what to do, not force me in a direction. I call him “ my studio Yoda”!!

And how would you describe the sound you’ve found with Kristian’s help?
If you were to take Keith Urban, Sheryl Crow and John Mayer, put them all in a blender, that would be close to the sound on the record. It has country lyrics, it has a lot of blues, and soul definitely cos that’s where I come from.
Who needs to put boundaries and lines to what is what? We just love the music that we love , generally I think people like to listen to a bunch of different kinds of music…they find artists that they like to listen to! It’s been really freeing to make a record that’s just me!

Can you tell me a little about your songwriting process?
Songwriting is a HUGE part of what I do. I’ve been writing since I was 10 years old.  I usually have an idea, a title or concept of what I want to write about….and then the music comes first because I’m so music driven. I’ve been playing instruments ever since I was 6 years old. I hear melodies in my head all the time…my phone is a disaster, I have bits and pieces of melodies and lyrics, I’ll like record thirteen seconds here and there….that’s the beauty of songwriting, it’s never the same twice in a row.

Is there anyone you dream of cowriting with in the future?
That’s a very good question! It’s been crazy moving to town and getting to write with my dream cowriters, like Lori McKenna who is so amazing and incredible. With Shane McAnally …I actually have a song on the record that I wrote with Shane. Getting to write with Travis Meadows, another incredible songwriter. So, it’s more interesting for me to get in the room with new writers or writers I haven’t written with for like three years and now that I know myself it’s a completely different place. I’m so aware now, it feels good!

I saw you perform live earlier this week, you really put your heart and soul into every song but is there one in particular that you feel a special emotional connection to?
Good question….yes the song “ Worth the Wait” that I wrote with Mr. Travis Meadows. I wanted it to close the album because feel that it’s representative of so many things in my life, both my career and my personal life. I feel that when you have to wait for things in life and you need to work hard for them it makes it all worth it when you get to that finish line or reach that little goal after thinking that you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then you make a new goal and keep pushing down the road….but it makes you appreciate everything. It’s how I live my life now.

You’ve been playing huge arenas opening for Brad Paisley this year as well some shows in small, intimate venues. Do you have a preference, or do you like them both in different ways?
Yeah I like them both, they’re completely different show, I do different sets and play songs different ways. Playing in front of 26,000 people with Brad Paisley is so thrilling!
Is it nerve-wracking?
Not really, if anything it’s more nerve-wracking playing to play to a small audience because you can feel them breath and it’s like “ I have a lot of responsibility on me right now because I need to entertain these people and I can see their direct reaction “ . In an arena there’s a lot of smiling faces on you but I’m kinda in my own world on stage and do my thing and make it a cool show but in an intimate show you have to give everything of yourself and every second of my set needs to be the best it can be. Because I have a group of people depending on me to entertain them.
And you can see if they’re getting bored!
(laughs) yes and then I have to do something cooler!

Your guitar playing is jaw-droppingly good….
Ha yes I’m a guitar nerd! Like 100%

But you started out playing piano?
Yeah , I started playing piano at 6 years old, my mum got me and my brother  playing which I’m grateful for now.  When I write a song on a piano I write a totally different song than if I was writing it on guitar. But I picked up the guitar at 8 years old and I just could’t  put it down, there was a curiosity in it that I couldn’t answer, that  I STILL can’t answer and I hope that I never will answer it because it always pushes me to keep wanting to learn new things.

When did you realise that music was going to be a career and not just a hobby?
I was a young teenager going through school….I loved school, I was a nerd at school too, I just went to school and played guitar, that’s all that I did. But nothing made me as happy as music did. Playing music in front of an audience just made me feel so happy and i was like “this is amazing”. I thought “I know I can always go to school and get a degree some day but this is what i need to do right now” and I’ve never looked back.

It seems to me that after spending a while in the shadows that female country artists are once again coming to the fore. Do you agree? And is there any artist in particular who excites you right now?
You know I think that everything, every industry, is cyclical. There was a time when country music was really female dominant. It hasn’t been for a while but I’m with you, I feel like it’s really coming back around.
Yes, just look at the C2C line up!
Exactly!! A prime indication. And there’s so many great female songwriters and artists recording great songs. I think that’s what it’s rooted in, the quality, and right now the quality is at an all time high. I’m super excited. I love everything that Maren Morris is writing, I love Jillian Jacqueline, everything Kelsea has been doing has been so inspiring. I have these hats that say ‘ girl power” on them …it’s all about this strong, female movement. Watching, Kelsea and Cam and Maren help lead this way it’s so inspiring to me . I’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s amazing to finally see the girls come around again.

And you were out on the CMT Women of Country tour weren’t you?
Yes it was awesome! That was with Jennifer Nettles and Brandy Clark who I fell in love with even more if that’s possible, and Tara Thompson…. it was a great tour to be on, I’ve never been on a bill before when it was all females on stage all night, it was a good treat!

Finally, what does the rest of 2017 have in store for you?
I’m so excited, we’ll be doing tons of radio shows, and I know that towards the end of the year I get to do some shows for some of my favourite charities. I’m doing a show called “ Brooklyn Rocks” in New York that I’m super excited about with a whole bunch of guitar players that will be a lot of fun…so it’s going to be a busy end to the year, going pretty steady to the middle of December.
Wow, i hope you get some time to relax over the festive period!
(laughs) Yes I think I’ll take the last two weeks of December off!
I think you’ll deserve it! Many thanks for your time, enjoy tonight’s show and see you back here next March for C2C!
Thank YOU so much….I’m sorry they turned the lights off on us!

Interview conducted by Lesley Hastings.

Twitter users, for a chance to win a signed copy of “The Project” on CD, click here!




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