South Wales born singer-songwriter ELA is to release her forthcoming E.P. Unfurl later in the year.
Each of the five songs are based on ELA’s personal experiences and display a range of genres: from smoky jazzy chords to piano and voice ballad to a sassy number. The first single from the E.P. Our Summer is out now.
Andy Howells puts questions to ELA about the release and her career so far.
Do you come from a musical family background?
Yes I do! Both of my parents are musical which definitely helped shape and grow my own tone. My Dad is also a singer, so I love having a jam with him and my Mum used to teach me cello. They both have been huge influences on my music career and very supportive of where I am today.
What sparked your interest in becoming a singer?
Singing has always been much more than an interest. It’s second nature to me and a lifelong passion. I guess I always used to sing with my Dad when I was little, then I joined the school choir and adored the feeling of singing and performing. You can really touch people’s souls whilst singing which I think is very special.
You collaborated with Amy Wadge and even contributed to the stunning soundtrack on Keeping Faith. How did that come about?
My mum is the producer/director of Keeping Faith and introduced me to Amy Wadge. Keeping Faith is a drama series made in two languages, English and Welsh. Amy wrote some amazing songs, which she sang for the English version and as a Welsh speaker, I sang them for the Welsh version. Amy’s songs are incredible and I feel extremely privileged to have sung the Welsh versions. The score for the series was written by the brilliant and talented Laurence Love Greed who asked me to be vocalist on the score, which is an important part of the identity of the series.
You’ve also worked with Amy on the soundtrack to NHS, To Provide All People as well as write and perform the songs for a new lock-down drama series (Cyswllt). Do you enjoy writing music for television and what are the challenges to writing for TV as to writing your own personal music?
Writing music has got to be one of the best things I’ve discovered. I never really used to write music, as my focus was on performing and to be honest, I never thought I’d really be any good at it.
However, I really surprised myself after working with Ian Barter and have found it a thrilling and fulfilling process. I was commissioned to write three songs for the drama series Cyswllt. This was a brilliant learning experience as we had three weeks to write, produce, record and mix three songs – no easy task! A great test but also a really humbling experience. The songs I wrote reflected how people were feeling during lockdown. They were called: Hope, The New Normal and Keep Going.
Your new single Our Summer is a beautiful song, what inspired it?
That’s very kind of you, thank you! My partner and I went travelling last year which was honestly the trip of a lifetime. We started in New York, then went to LA and Hawaii with the final destination of Australia. We hired a motorhome and travelled up the East Coast for 5 weeks which was a breath-taking experience in itself.
The music video, which is available YouTube, is a compilation of all our favourite memories, so take a look if you’d like to see what we did.
The holiday blues were pretty mega when we returned, so I wanted to write about that, but also talk about summer and how it is much more than just a season… it’s a feeling.
The song is about young love and how that one special person can bring you that summer feeling by just the way they look at you. I call is ‘summer in a song’
How long did the track take to produce?
Ian Barter and I wrote Our Summer on our first day together in the studio. It was the first single we wrote so it’s pretty cool it’s the first song I’ve released too. I remember hearing the sample and thinking ‘that is a banger’.
We re-recorded some of the verses as I wanted to give it more of a ‘longingness’ to it. Although it’s a happy tune, it’s also quite sad because I know those experiences are over. There’s a slight shift in tone between the verse and chorus. The verses highlight the nostalgia of travelling, whilst the chorus celebrates young love.
So, when you are chilling out at the moment what do you both enjoy listening to?
Like most people, I like to mix it up when I’m chilling and listening to music. What I really love doing are long car journeys and getting some old school tunes hitting the speakers and singing along to them. I really love listening to the likes of Etta Bond and Joy Crookes when I’m chilling and really listening to their lyrics. They’re both activists in their own right and are genius songwriters.
And beyond lockdown what are you both looking forward to doing next?
I’m really keen to start gigging and meeting some fans of the song.
My EP Unfurl is set to be released this year so there’s lot’s of new music coming your way. It would be awesome to do a UK tour or something like that. I’m also wanting to write more, it’s definitely an addictive process.