SQ Magazine

The UK's Leading Independent Youth Culture Publication

INTERVIEW: Elli Ingram

Posted on Thursday, 31 October by

Elli Ingram

The idea that failure is an opportunity for success has become a popular motif in philosophy and motivational speeches. But Brighton’s 20-year-old Elli Ingram, newly-signed to Island Records, didn’t know she’d end up releasing an EP a couple of years after she failed to get the grades she needed to study textiles. Yet when that creative shift occurred, it’s not just Elli’s life that was affected because her fans are probably grateful too.

But Elli’s relationship with performing seemed fragmented at first as she reminisces: “When I was young I took part in theatre schools but it was only for fun. I soon got bored of it and spent most of my youth down the park with my mates.” It’s an attitude I’m sure many of us can relate to; we all had ambitions before the allure of parks at obscure hours became too much.

After gaining more confidence from singing around the home and towards the end of secondary school, Elli took part in a local singing competition. Yet again, the allure of something more eventful was too irresistible. “I won, but my mum had to collect my prize because I’d left to go to a party.” But Elli only realised she was bestowed with an expressive voice when she joined a girl band during college.

So many songs these days just talk about shit and I hate it. If I try and write something I can’t relate to it’s just a mess.”

Elli Ingram 2

A voice though, is often meaningless without some significant words to adorn it with. And all too often now, lyrics are used just to help vocalists string a few notes together. It partly explains why you get so much vocalising these days with Alt-J being recent offenders here and also why post-rock bands like Explosions In The Sky do away with vocals altogether. Why have some vocalist spin insincere words together when clever arrangements and vivid instrumentation can produces moments of poignancy that Adele could only dream of.

It’s no surprise then that the lyrics are as vital to Elli’s track as the vocals themselves. The singer/songwriter remarks: “So many songs these days just talk about shit and I hate it. If I try and write something I can’t relate to it’s just a mess.” It’s no surprise then that Elli’s lyrics are “very personal and not easy to share” highlighted lucidly by the bare narratives in her latest EP Sober. “I’m inspired by everything around me and I take all that emotion and put it into a song.”

While the vocals and lyrics provide the flesh, Felix Joseph and Rudi Redz construct the skeletal portion of Elli’s tracks. She was introduced to them by her manager and are the first producers she has worked with. Naturally then, much of her musical knowledge has come from them. The process of songwriting is an important one to many artists; some prefer a synergistic approach where the beats and vocals come together simultaneously while others prefer the instrumentals to be applied around the vocals.

I was sceptical at first, as I wasn’t convinced their style of music would suit mine.”

Elli Ingram 3

“It’s a bit of both for us. I write a lot of lyrics when I’m alone so I will bring them into the studio. But I also like to write whilst Fe and Ast (Rudi) are building the beat as it can help spark inspiration.” But as Elli garners more attention, there’s no doubt there will be a queue of producers wanting her crisp vocals on their tracks.

Recently, Elli has been working closely with Chase & Status despite her initial reluctance. “I was sceptical at first, as I wasn’t convinced their style of music would suit mine.” But there’s no doubt Elli learnt from working and touring with them and will carry that experience into future tracks.

All that said, there’s no denying that Elli’s vibrant voice is always the centrepiece of her tracks. And as she learns to work more synergistically with her producers, whomever they may be, the application of her vocals and the messages that embellish them will undoubtedly become richer and deeper. Big voices always seem to gather good traction in music and the precocious teenager is prepared for the endeavours that lie ahead. How does she cope? “Keep calm and drink Earl Grey.”

Stream Elli’s debut EP effort ‘Sober’ and read Arun Chamba’s review here.

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Matt Yau

Matt Yau

Showcase Critic at SQ Magazine
Freelance music journalist with a reputation in Sussex for uncovering new music. Has led SQ Magazine's 'Showcase' since 2013. Obsessive thinker, habitual music listener and timid photographer.
Matt Yau

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