“It was one of those days I felt like I was on a reality show” was how Lindsay Ell described the immediate period before she headed back to London for her 5th trip over the pond in just 5 years. For anyone that has ever been stuck in a lift (or an elevator if you are in the States) you will know how bizarre an experience that is to find yourself in, but imagine if that was followed up by finding your car had been broken into and have pretty much everything you have with you beyond your guitar being stolen. Throw in an airline losing her pedal board with the joys of jetlag from flying Los Angeles to New York and then on to London you would think this would be enough to dampen anyone’s spirit but prior to shows in London and Manchester you would never think this from her shows or when she took the time to speak to us.
“My whole show was programmed on this synthesiser (which was amongst the stolen gear) but I’m so happy to be back here, we are just going to have some fun, sing some songs and make the best of it.” One of the reasons for her optimism is her love for the UK and because in particular “playing for fans over here is just 2nd to none! They will sing along to your whole set, listen to your album and learn the whole thing.” Every artist will always think their fans are so dedicated and loyal to them but Lindsay really inspires people with her down to earth and super bubbly personality along with the way she connects with them on stage.
“Some fans I just love with my whole heart, they follow me around the world and get to as many shows as they can. That fan relationship just keeps me wanting to keep waking up every day. I love how I inspire them as much as they inspire me.” Her previous trip to London was back in March for Country 2 Country where she got to play the o2 arena for the first time and when she described this experience, I could really tell how much that meant to her. “I always wanted to play that venue and it was a feeling I will never forget! Seeing thousands of people just rush that spotlight stage in-between acts on the main stage is the most incredible thing I have ever seen! At festivals in the States you don’t always see that.”
In regard to playing shows in the UK “I feel like I can just be me and do whatever is in my heart at the time as you are able to connect with people.” I asked whether playing shows over here brings about a different mind-set to the songs she puts in her set list? “Absolutely, they care so much. I feel really comfortable to showcase new material, like never played in front of an audience before as I know this is the right place to do it.” Another factor in this was we discussed the level of access to country music in the UK where people will know that track 12 on the end of an album equally as much as what may be a big radio hit in the States.
The UK fans in particular emphasise the importance of the song writing, but even with genre boundaries being pushed more and more in the States that country music is still “about the story and that message of I know what that feeling feels like. People are pulled in by the lyrics and they listen fully to the meaning of verses and the chorus which you don’t find in a lot of other genres.”
Her first trip was back in 2013 when she came over as the opening act for The Band Perry on their European tour. “The right support slots are great for meeting new fans and having people discover you and your music. It’s also a way independent artists not signed to labels can get their music out there. For me it allowed people to discover my music that they may never have found before.”
In addition to her transatlantic trips many of you will be familiar with her debut album The Project and her recording of John Mayer’s iconic Continuum record but fans will be glad to hear the sophomore album is definitely on the horizon. “The first album is the first footprint in a direction and the second is your statement! It allows you to take the perception of who you are and what you are about to a new level with album 2 almost reinventing yourself in a little way but still inspiring the people that support you.”
One thing that may initially draw people’s attention to Lindsay as an artist is how she is such an incredible guitarist to the extent that people still talk about her saying “she plays guitar like a guy a lot” which she actually takes as a compliment and you only have to look how musicians like Lzzy Hale and Orianthi are also regarded as guitarists rival some of the top male players in the industry. Given the success of The Project we discussed whether this has altered how she may be perceived as an artist and not just being the girl guitarist. “I feel it has showcased myself as a singer not just a guitarist and shows as a writer how much I have grown. It has really communicated that I am a singer and I am a songwriter firstly.”
Lindsay commented on how much she had seen the genre grow over the past 5 years without even living here which led us on to discussing what still seems to become the most talked about thing regarding female artists. “I think it is starting to get better for girls, every industry is cyclical. Women were huge in the 90’s, it may be an uneven ratio on radio right nowbut female artists are all over pop and the charts right now and it’s only a matter of time until it moves into country.” On the back of this we explored whether the perceived attitude towards females on country radio is driving female artists to be more creative with what they are recording.
“It opens up a new and wider perspective for artists, for songwriters and for fans. We are all a little bit more open and the lines of genre are not as distinct. Music can just be music and be a connector of people of all different ages. If the quality of music is great it will find a voice.” I brought up how I had perceived some attitudes of people towards female artists in the States when I visited Nashville back in June and Lindsay reiterated the importance of connecting with your fans and how it is not about the people who will not like your music. “If you find your group of fans and your audience, then that’s what you need to worry about. Focus on who is inspired by what you do!”
Lindsay is really active (if you didn’t know already) on her social media particularly Instagram which in addition to very frequent appearances from the carpet at BNA she feels it is an incredible way to connect with fans and how it allows a relationship to be built. “People can meet my personality and get to know me behind my music. They can see who I am whilst I get to give them a behind the scenes look at the quote unquote glamorous touring life and how glamorous it is not sometimes. In a way it makes it better for people to identify with my music and song writing.”
We also talked about the growth of how important socials are as particularly in the UK it is a great way to discover new artists when people work with or post about someone else. I explained how I embraced country music was through Sugarland as I discovered them through the work they did with Matt Nathanson who I am a huge fan of and from there you discover someone else and someone else from there. “It’s like a domino effect, one trickles down to 3 more, that goes down to 5 more and onwards.” The whole aspect of socials revolves around the ethos of a community and sharing with others and Lindsay described how this is apparent in country music this foes further with such a strong feeling of family.
We had already talked about females in music but leading on from the community topic Lindsay told me “It’s really cool specifically the girls in Nashville, I feel like female artists have this special bond with each other where we all want each other to win. It’s unique, you don’t often find a group of girls let alone female artists who want each other to win.” This is a thing that is really great to hear and I brought up how her recent appearance along with Cassadee Pope in the video for RaeLynn’s latest single Tailgate shows this.
“Cassadee and Rae, Maren (Morris) and I actually have this like really cool friendship. I love all of them so deeply. I’m so proud of everything all of them are doing and feel like in life they are my true friends.” Maren is now becoming widely known in the UK even outside of the country fan base given the success of her collaboration with Zedd and Grey so I touched on the country crossovers which Lindsay responded “she inspires me as an artist and inspires her fans. The fact that she says music is boundary less, it should just be about the songs and people connecting to an artist. She is the ultimate example of that!”
This trip to the UK also brought something else for the first time, with her manager Taylor making her first trip with heracross the pond. “I just love this city and being over in the UK so it’s exciting for me to show it to someone else for the first time.” Now that she is an expert on how to survive being stuck in a lift, she told me Taylor would be the worst person she could be stuck in a lift with (Taylor did not know what a “lift” was in the British context until the day before) as she would likely be freaked out similar to her first experience on driving on the other side of the road like we do over here. London obviously may be a bit of a culture shock for peoples first visit here as everything moves so fast but being over in the UK “It reminds me of Canada so much, so much like home. I love the people and oh the food!”
One of the main reasons for the homely reminder is that being a massive tea drinker, in Great Britain similarly to in Canada we drink our tea correctly (we drink it hot rather than iced like it is in the States) but she loves how “it’s just the heart of culture over here.” Her biggest recommendation regarding her favourite thing in the UK however is a store called Laduree which is world renowned for their macaroons which really are to die for and should be an essential place to visit on any trip to our great city.
It was an absolute pleasure to catch up with Lindsay again. She is exactly what you see when she is on stage, what she posts on Instagram, at a meet and greet after a show or if you meet her in the street which is one of those people that never has a glass half empty and a person that is really fun to hang out with. We are so grateful to Luke Roberts and the guys at Lime Tree Music for sorting out the time to sit down and have coffee with her. I can pretty much guarantee this will not be the last we have seen of Miss Ell on this side of the pond given the success of her sold out show at The Borderline I am sure she will already be looking forward to reconnecting with her UK fans (and showing Taylor even more of our great city) at the next possible opportunity.