Aron: As a musician, I’m always interested in hearing how other musicians’ musical journey began. Can you tell me about the moment when you decided to get into songwriting and who gave you the inspiration to start your artistic project?
Elly: Oh, Well, it’s going a while back. The first song I wrote came up when I was about 11, so it’s a good while ago. Actually, I still have the copybooks from back then with lyrics in them, (laughs) and when I started to play the guitar a little bit more and put melodies to them, it all kind of worked out well. I don’t really remember who (if there’s any) inspired me to get into this, but obviously I’ve always loved music, so, I suppose it’s kind of a subconscious thing. I’ve never really had to force this too much, it all came out naturally. You know if I look back at the songs I wrote about 10 years ago, they were rather cringey (giggles) but it’s still nice to look back where I was in life at the time. So, yeah, all I can recall is myself at the age 11, grabbing a pen to write some lyrics, playing the guitar and putting melodies to them and then it simply took off.
Aron: How would you describe your music in terms of genres? Is there any band or artist who you would consider an influence for your singer-songwriter project from any genre?
Elly: Hm, people usually describe my music as alternative-pop, which I’d probably agree with. Though it’s hard for me to do so, because I always find it difficult to put my music into specific genres. Speaking of influences, I suppose, when it comes to bands I really admire, Blondie would be one of my top picks. Their music has been around for so long and it stood the test of time for so long, and they, as a band, influenced me so much. Yeah, I absolutely love them. But to name a more recent band as well, Coldplay would be the other band that in fact, impacted me musically so much. I’ve been following them since their debut album Parachutes (2000). They also inspired me in a similar way, they have been a band together for over 20 years and they still pump out great tunes and moving with time as well. And I think the first album I listened to was a Paul Simon album that my mom had at home, I loved it, and still love his work. I think he’s a musical genius. So, yeah these three would pop up in my mind straight away.
Aron: How does writing a tune usually begin for you? Which comes first? Lyrics? Melody? Or maybe the riff?
Elly: Melody, melody always comes first and then the lyrics afterwards. As soon as I have the melody, I pick up a guitar or go to the keyboard and try to figure out the actual song or the base for a song. Though, I’ve been working on an album recently and have been looking for different approaches for songwriting, you know to have more variety. For instance, I’ve written a couple of songs with the following approach; writing lyrics comes first and then putting a melody to it to see whether it works well, and to be fair, sometimes I feel this approach is closer to me personally. It’s nice to have different perspectives to write a tune, I guess.
Aron: In terms of subjects, Are these songs always about personal experiences? Or do you also write songs based on fictional ideas?
Elly: Yeah, it’s usually about personal stories, experiences. It may come from my personal life, but new ideas for a song could come from the experiences of my friends, or from anything I hear about what’s going on in the world. The point is, it is always based on real life, not fiction. It must mean something to me, it must crawl under my skin, so to speak.
Aron: Do you prefer the process of songwriting (writing, recording, releasing music) or do you prefer performing these songs live to an audience?
Elly: That’s a tough question. Obviously, I love all aspects of it, but for me, the part of music production is the stage when I feel the happiest during the whole process. You know, when you have a melody, some lyrics, maybe a riff on guitar, and you transform this raw idea into a complete song, experimenting and extending its instrumentation. So, for me that may be the most interesting part, I just love to see the transformation of these tunes.
Aron: I’ve listened to all your records and the first thought that came across my mind was your music is so versatile. Your first EP Rise (2016) had this sort of alternative/indie-pop vibe and then your single Sorge (2018) had rather an up-beat dance music feel to it. Then again, your latest release Speak Slowly (2021) had rather a pop-rock vibe. Do you sense a sort of change or development in your music as time passes?
Elly: Yeah, I get what you mean. But interestingly, though all of the above-mentioned songs have different moods and vibes, they are all parts of my artistic identity, for instance, there is a difference between my Rise EP and my latest release Speak Slowly (2021), yet they are still not too far from my sonically. I think, exactly time is the answer why these records sound slightly different. As it passes, and I get new experiences in life, I feel like my music goes with it too and that’s a good thing, I guess.
Aron: What was your favourite gig that you had since you started your solo project at any venue?
Elly: Probably, I’d say when I supported the The Riptide Movement at Vicar Street about 3 years ago, yeah that was actually amazing, it’s been really good. I couldn’t believe it. That stage is massive and it felt great to see that venue not as a fan but as a performing artist. But I’ve played on Dame Street at the Olympia Theatre as well. These two are probably my favourite venues in Dublin. Oh yeah and the Whelan’s… Oh, god there are actually loads (giggles).
Aron: Any favourite venue that you’ve not had the chance to play at before but you’d really want to?
Elly: The Cobblestone! I’ve never played there yet, but I always wanted to. Also, I haven’t played any shows lately due to the pandemic, so I’m really excited about this upcoming gig on the 21st. So, yeah, The Cobblestone, there we go. Next Thursday!
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Links to the artistic project of EllyD: