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Ellie Ford on her hotly anticipated debut album

Growing up in York Minster, a young Ellie Ford started off recording a capella songs on an old tape player. Always writing her own music, she developed into a captivating songwriter penning ethereal and intoxicating folk music on the guitar, piano, and harp.

She is now settled in Brighton and is on the brink of releasing her debut album The Other Sun, and if its first single ‘July’ is anything to go by, it’s going to offer up a lot more than mere folk. Rhythmic and punchy in places, with momentum and purpose, and a range of interesting instrumentation, ‘July’ sets the scene for what is sure to be a fantastic debut.

But what does the song mean to Ellie? “It’s about the rhythm and sound of the words, the way the instruments fit together. It’s as much about the music as it is the words, and it’s hard to describe one with the other! This song in particular is quite unique to me, and the band actually. We spent a lot of time working on the instrumentation to get it just right. there’s a lot in it. It used to fill me with terror before we played it, but now I love it.”

When asked about how she approaches songwriting Ellie says that a lot of the credit has to go to her subconscious. “I’m quite a reflective person, and need time to process things in order to understand them.”

It’s been the mystery of creation that has kept her going. “I don’t have a specific process or formula for writing songs, I don’t understand it and I certainly can’t control it. This can be frustrating but it’s also great. It keeps me interested. If I perfectly understood the process and could apply a logistical formula to writing music, I think the mystery would vanish and I probably wouldn’t be so interested in doing it anymore.
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A self described former musical ‘loner’, Ellie has come out of her shell over the last few years leading up to the release The Other Sun, which comes out in March 2016. “I’ve always used to be a bit of a loner with my music. I spent ages practicing in my room with the door closed, so when I first started playing I felt quite shy and reserved,” says Ellie. “Now I’ve got that a bit more under control I actually enjoy playing music in public! I really enjoy playing these songs, and can’t wait to tour the album with my band.”

Speaking of her band, it was their mutual desire to record the album the ‘old fashioned way’ in the countryside surroundings of Broadoak Studios in Bexhill-on-Sea that helped them all bond. “Each instrument has its own particular importance within a song,” continues Ellie. “All of the instrumentation is carefully considered. Therefore, it was crucial to capture each player’s style and flair with the recording, because it’s more than just the part itself that contributes to the vibe of the song.

“We recorded each part as if it were the ‘lead part’ of the song, for example when recording the clarinet or violin we mic’d up the room and paid close attention to recording the natural tone of the instrument. Which was great because then we used the room mic to create natural sounding reverb. All of the post production was done in this way. It’s all real stuff. 

I like to think of albums as milestones or markers in life, so it was important for me to get the recording right. I learnt a lot during this time about understanding the greatness and natural ‘perfection’ of character.”

After hearing how much effort went into ensuring that the album was created in a very organic and natural way, it’s no surprise to hear that Ellie is looking forward to its upcoming release.

“I’m so excited to release the album. We spent the first part of the year in the studio recording it. I worked with an incredible producer named Harvey Summers. We had a lot of the same ideas as to how to capture the character of the songs with the recordings. The record was made at Broadoak Studios, which was perfect. There’s a big vibey live room, loads of analog equipment, the countryside! It was a real experience for me, I learnt a lot!”

 

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The Other Sun is set to feature a real mix of interesting instrumentation from the clarinet and violin to the electric guitar, drums, and her magnificent harp. “As a band we worked on arrangements a lot, getting everything just right. There’s a wide variety of influences, when I listen to the record now I can hear each band member on the songs.

“There were a huge amount of things feeding into the writing of the songs on the album. The songs are all autobiographical, not so far as to say that ‘you’ necessarily means you/him/her and ‘I’ explicitly means me, but that the influence comes from the situations, emotions, and events of the time in which the songs are written.”

It’s been a busy few years for Ellie: she performed at Shambala and The Great Escape, and released her debut EP Show Night In last year. She’s also spent plenty of time writing and recording her debut album and performing a number of live performances, both solo and with her band. But looking forward, with the release of The Other Sun looming, 2016 is sure to be an exciting year.

“The album is out in March on Hidden Trail Records, and I’ll be heading out with my whole band to play gigs all over the UK in the spring.”

www.elliefordmusic.com

Words by Adam Rowden

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