Welsh country singer/songwriter Eleri’s hotly anticipated sophomore album ‘The Carnival’ is to be released on Friday 13th October. Featuring thirteen songs, The Carnival includes nine brand new tracks alongside acclaimed singles ‘Good for a Girl’, ‘Snake Like You’, ‘Live Wire’ and ‘Karaoke’.
Eleri has branched out and worked with a brand-new production team that includes Tim Prottey-Jones (First Time Flyers, The Wandering Hearts, Megan McKenna), Kaity Rae (Chelcee Grimes, GIRLI, The Shires) and Millie Blooms (Paige Wolfe, Aiime C, Kayleigh Hughes) who also oversees the album as executive producer under Millie Blooms Productions.
Eleri has also been collaborating with some of Wales’ brightest up and coming stars including EÄDYTH, Millie Blooms and un-heard tracks with Leon Stanford and Paige Wolfe.
To celebrate the release of The Carnival, Eleri will also be headlining her biggest show to date, accompanied by a 6 piece band at one of her home country’s most prestigious venues – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff the day after the album’s release on Saturday 14th October.
Support comes handpicked from Wrexham country starlet Megan Lee and Ollie Dixon who’s indie-ambient folk from the South-West who captivated her at a recent festival they both appeared at. If fans can’t attend the show and want to support, Eleri has set up a pay-itforward option to allow others less fortunate the opportunity of a night out. This is a rare opportunity to hear the brand-new tracks brought fully to life and some old favourites too. It’s an unmissable treat for British Country Music fans.
Eleri recently took time out to chat to Andy Howells about The Carnival.
You’re a constantly busy artist, in fact you have been since the release of your first album, when was that?
My first album was called Earthbound, and it was out around April 2019. There were a couple of tours that year as well. Obviously, we had Covid in 2020, so I did a few different things, released a couple of EPs and some singles throughout that. This is my first big project back now.
The first single from the album, Snake Like You came out around a year ago, so you’ve been working on The Carnival for quite a while.
I was hoping it would all be a bit more streamlined, but getting everything in place and right always takes a bit more time than you expect, so I started leaking the singles. it’s worked out well, feeding it that way has been quite successful, and people seem to be enjoying it.
I’d been writing songs for the album for the last 2 or 3 years, through lockdowns and things. It wasn’t until we wrote Snake Like You, myself, Millie (Blooms) and Dan (Fry), in their studio, that I got to know them as producers as well. Then they came on board to do the whole album project, so it all started there really. It was nice to release that song (Snake like You) a little bit before everything else and then give its own insight into what the album was going to be like.
When did you first get into song writing?
I think I’ve always been into writing. I always wrote loads of diaries, thoughts and feelings, all that sort of thing. I was really into English at school, and it wasn’t until I was about 13 that I thought, “I want to write a song.” I’d never done that before. I didn’t really know where to start, but just kind of gave it a go. I did like music in school, and we had to do a bit of song writing for that. It wasn’t until I did it as a hobby, that I did it just as a way to explore how I was feeling about certain things and express that.
In my last year of university, I did a theatre degree and I got to study out in North Carolina, in the States, which is where I got into country music, and the story telling side of that. I was doing a lot of musical theatre alongside my degree and for the last assignment I ended up helping write the musical.
So, when I finished, I was, “Right, that’s it! I don’t want to be an actor. I want to be a songwriter, sing songs, write songs in whatever way that I can. That’s what led me to writing my own music and being a bit more of an artist, because you’ve got a lot more say in what you release, when you release, and you’re control of it. You’re not relying on a production or a play to be in. It’s a lot more like an independent road; I’ve always been quite an independent person. So, it’s kind of fitted well with that.
Do you still aspire to write a musical?
Funnily enough, one of the songs from this album, Good For a Girl I wrote with Rachel Walker Mason as well as our co-writer, Nina Sundstrom. She has taken that, and it is in a musical now called The Circle, which is all about a song writing group and different women’s stories, so that song really fitted in that. It’s still a work in progress now, but I was lucky enough to see some of the opening stages of it earlier this year in Weston Super Mare. It’s an exciting work in progress. It’s fun to see how different songs can take on different lives, stories, and contexts.
What’s it like bringing new music out and performing it to people?
it’s both exciting and quite nerve wracking. It’s obviously exciting putting the piece of work together and seeing the links between different songs and how they all fit together as a body of work.
It’s exciting to try and get the sounds right and the different production styles, to give it a through line and make it work as a piece of cohesive work. But then you’ve obviously got to take it to the public Forum, and you do get feedback from people or judgment. it’s not that I’ve had anything horrible back, but it’s working out where it sits within a market or musical context. That can sometimes be a bit scary because you might see it a certain way and someone else has a completely different take on the song, style or genre. It’s a bit of guesswork as to where it might fit and finding the people that enjoy it. I suppose it’s the key to keeping it exciting.
I always think of myself as a country musician and in that kind of space. But there’s obviously different influences in my music, so people latch onto certain things and in different contexts. I guess it’s just letting it be what it is and not trying to pigeonhole it into too many areas or not enough areas.
What’s the best sort of gig experience you’ve had?
I think some of my favourite gigs are supporting another artist and you get to test out their audience.
I had a lovely one back in November last year at a church in Western Super Mare, supporting an Americana artist called Jill Andrews and one of the UK’s biggest country music singers, Kezia Gill. It was a Women of Country night. I was on first, and I loved the audience. A lot of the Country Americana scene in the UK is so welcoming, and open to exploring new artists. They just love that genre of music. They were a receptive audience, silent when you were playing, and so loud applauding in-between songs. You couldn’t really ask for a better audience than that.
So, to your new album, The Carnival, what’s the story behind the title?
It kind of came around organically. I had written a whole bunch of songs, and there’s songs I wrote that didn’t end up on the album as well. We’d recorded Snake Like You, and a couple of other ones and were in the middle of recording a song called Magic. We were thinking the lyrics are a lot about the circus or carnival and we were putting in these cool, sound effects. We thought, “this could be the title track of the album” and for a few months the title was Magic, and I thought, “Okay, that’s quite a cool title.”
Then I sat down with my manager, and he said, “Explain? What’s this Magic? What are you talking about? How does it fit with everything else?” And I said, “Well, this song’s got parts about snake charmers, this song has a little fortune telling, this song’s got card tricks, in this song a token is mentioned, so all these words conjure up a circus or a carnival.”
Then we ended up thinking, “okay, well, maybe it’s The Carnival”, because The Circus is obviously a great Britney Spears album, so we didn’t want to steal that.
The word Carnival is a celebration of life, all the good and bad, the dark and the light. It just felt like such a celebration of my life for the last few years and different experiences that I’ve had. So, it’s a way of celebrating all the spectrum of emotions and experiences that have gone into the album.
How happier are you with this album? I imagine you’ve progressed a bit since your debut release?
It’s interesting when you release music. You’re obviously very excited about it, but you do get to the point where you can get sick of what you’re promoting constantly. In a way when you’re amidst of it, you can’t quite see how magical, wonderful what you’ve created is, because you’re set on this path and you’ve got this, that, and the other to do. I think when I was in the middle of the first album, I was like, “I can’t wait to do whatever comes next.” Then coming out of that, you can look back on the project and see, that was a lovely album, it did what I wanted it to do, it achieved what I wanted it to achieve!”
I’ll probably feel that for this album with a bit of hindsight, but right now it is exciting. And I’m enjoying exploring different sounds. I’m excited about this album. I can’t wait for people to hear it.”
What can people expect from the album launch on October 14?
It’s in Clwb Ifor Bach on a Saturday night. A 7-piece band, myself included. So, there’s 6 amazing musicians playing with me. I’ve got bass, guitar, drums and lots of backing singing, which is going to elevate the sound so much and allow you to explore different highs, lows and dynamics with the set list. I have got some little acoustic moments in there as well, but predominantly it’s going to be a full band, and it’s the first gig with them altogether, so it’ll be fun.
Beyond the album launch, have you got more gigs lined up?
I’m hoping to do an album tour next year and in talks with another artist about maybe doing a co-headline tour. But it always comes down to how many tickets you can sell closer to home. I’m putting everything into this big show now. I’m hoping that it can snowball from there, and we can do more tour dates around the country.
Have you got any more artist collaborations coming up?
Yeah, there’s 2 more collaborations on the album which haven’t been heard yet. So, I was in Monmouth filming a music video for one of them last week, which is nearly done now.
I’ve got a ballad with an amazing artist called Leon Stanford. So, I’ll give you a little hint into that one, we’ve got a lovely ballad coming out on the album. I’m excited as its a more intimate side.
Do you enjoy doing the collaborations? You seem to get a bit of a buzz from doing that.
Yes, not to sound cynical, I think it’s a clever move for anyone in the music industry to be collaborating with other people. You’re automatically doubling your audience in your reach. Also, you get to explore ways of working that you maybe hadn’t thought of before. So, for example, writing Snake Like You with Milly. Some of the way, she phrased lyrics I was, “Oh, that’s like a weird way to put that. I wouldn’t ever have written that. I don’t know if I like it.” An hour later I said, “I love that. I never would have thought of it. It’s amazing. It works so well!”
I think challenging yourself in certain areas you can learn so much from people that you collaborate with.
The album is available to pre-order/save physically via Eleri’s website – www.elerionline.com and digitally here. Tickets for Eleri’s album launch at Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff on October 14 are also available via her website.