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TC in Conversation with Lindsay Ell

Fresh off the back of last weeks CMA Awards where she was nominated for Musical Event of the Year for ‘What Happens in a Small Town’ with Brantley Gilbert, the lovely Canadian Guitar Goddess Linday Ell arrived in London to play a special show at The Grace in Islington tonight before heading off for a string of dates in Germany later this week. We last spoke to Lindsay just over a year ago so this morning we had a long overdue catch-up to talk life, touring, new music, that first ever number 1 song and her love of French Macarons from Laduree.

Lindsay on returning to Europe:

We are on tour with Ben Zucker who is an artist quite well known in Germany and start that tour this week but I was like I need to come see everyone in London, my second home. I was last here with Chris which was an incredible run. Mr Chris Young has some pretty crazy fans over here and had so much fun touring with him but it’s really good to be back. We have a sold out show tonight, I cannot wait to see everybody and meet everybody because opening for other artists is so different and amazing when you get to meet a lot of new fans or people that maybe have never heard you before. Tonight I get to play to my own fans, my last sold out show here was at The Borderline a couple of years ago and I remember people were singing so loud, I could barely hear my own voice so I’m so excited and it’s gonna be a good night.

Lindsay on how special the UK fans are to play for:

It was the thing that baffled my mind the first time. When I came over with The Band Perry, a lot of the audience knew all of my songs that were just on YouTube at that point. I mean I was just amazed by the dedication of how much fans care about the music and that is the reason I will always keep coming back.

Lindsay on having her first number 1 song ‘What Happens in a Small Town’ with Brantley Gilbert:

It’s really crazy! I have dreamed of that moment ever since I was a little girl. I remember going to sleep when I was like 10 years old praying before I went to bed like Please can I have a number 1 song one day! The fact it just happened in the last week it still feels surreal, often times we dream about things and set goals for ourselves then think about how we want them to happen and they never end up happening how we think they are going to but sometimes they end up so much better! Everything that has happened in the last year, even in the past few months being on that song with Brantley Gilbert was such a gift and a blessing. The fact it was my first number 1 in the States, I was nominated for my first CMA Award and I just released a brand new song as the beginning to my next album as the start to this whole project it’s exciting and there’s a lot of good stuff.

and the process and time taken for this achievement to materialise:

You don’t really think about it when we play so many shows and you’re on the go constantly. We’ve had such an incredible year touring that you almost forget that that there’s that one song that’s been at radio in the States for 48 weeks WHICH IS A REALLY LONG TIME! For most of us and the rest of the world are like what is wrong with you guys? Even the charts in Canada, they move much faster so it’s kind of this other part of my brain and I allocate we are gonna be on this song for a year in that part of my brain but everything else: the rest of your business, the rest of your world and the rest of your touring business it all is completely ebb and flow so is constantly moving so I just try and make sure that I try and be like radio song FOR A YEAR then look at everything else as a separate category almost. There’s the music I release over here, I’m about to tour Germany and I’m Canadian so releasing music there is a priority for me. Every country is so different.

then what happens around promoting a song to radio given the time things take to peak:

Before I moved to Nashville, which was 9 years ago I had no idea it was gonna take that long. You don’t really think about it, I was like OK it’ll take a few months maybe to get up there but even if you’re an A lister, one of the artists that get that quick in right away it still can take you like 30 weeks and so it just takes a long time and I had no idea going in to it. Even other artists you just schedule other things, touring as you’re constantly touring and sometimes releasing other music whilst you have your ‘single’ and it sounds so weird that you have a track out to radio, you are releasing other music or making videos for other songs or releasing albums with 11 other songs so your world keeps moving, it keeps spinning, you keep pushing everything forward whilst still knowing there’s this thing percolating on the other side.

and performing it at Nissan Stadium during CMA Fest in June this year:

So crazy! I mean there have been so many moments of this past year that still feel so surreal. Getting to be a part of that stage at CMA Fest was such a bucket list moment, it’s been another thing I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little girl. I’ve gotten to cross a lot of things off my bucket list this year that I’ve needed to keep adding to the bucket list. Brantley Gilbert and I are stood there on this stage in the middle of the stadium but there’s 60,000 people around us and we’re about to start playing our song then Brantley looked and me and went here we go!

We are wearing in ears and our monitor mix had been deleted by accident right before we went on so I thought it was just my ears so I was literally watching Brantley’s lips because I couldn’t hear anything. Then on the satellite stage you are in-front of the main speakers which are delayed by about 2 seconds so if you sing to the echo you are going to be behind so I was keeping on time by watching his lips and counting in my head whilst I am playing the solo as everything I am hearing is too late so I was freaking out and for that 3 and a half minutes I was ready to lose it! We get off stage and Brantley was like ‘What just happened?’ so it was like you too? I couldn’t hear a thing so both us were basically out there blind for the biggest performance of really both of our careers at that point. I didn’t know if we were on cue or in the right key, I had no idea then when we walked off I was like at least he felt the same thing and my manager was like it sounded great. Well OK! But it didn’t sound great to us so was one of the coolest parts of this year but one of the most terrifying.

Lindsay on performing National Anthems in stadiums like at CMA Fest and before sporting events in North America:

I never get nervous for really anything except the anthem and I get way more nervous about the American anthem than the Canadian. I dunno if maybe that I’ve sang the Canadian anthem since I was so little and is just less pressure for me than to sing the American anthem. I was on live TV singing in front of like 80,000 people in the stadium at the Minnesota Vikings game with however many million people watching the game at home then before I walk out on the field I am like shaking and I never get nervous. It’s like you think about something so much in your head that you overthink it and it’s like ‘What are the words to Happy Birthday?’ I know that I know this but you like psych yourself out pretty easily.

Lindsay on getting to play to play to audiences all over the world and a major festival in Australia:

The country music fans over there are so excited about country music. Fans here in the UK will always own my heart but I loved touring Australia and that run we went Germany to Amsterdam to Australia to New Zealand to JAPAN! So we got to bring the genre to places that didn’t get it a lot which is very cool and to be able to sit in front of a room that doesn’t really speak English and they were just so captivated by it which was an experience I will never forget so I cannot wait to go back to Japan. Australia it’s like in the culture, like threaded in to their lives over there and the people who love country music really love country music. That festival, CMC Rocks is like C2C’s little sister on the other side of the world so it was really cool to be able to see it for the first time and play it.

then the different world that is playing at the other festival which takes place in Tennessee during June, compared to CMA Fest:

On the other end of the spectrum to play Bonnaroo which is a massive rock festival in Tennessee  was just SO AWESOME to me. Your walking around this festival and see everything from rock to EDM with everything in between. I was playing this thing called SuperJam which is the jam session between 1am and 3am in the morning so very very late yet people are just ready to go. I’m just this little blonde girl with a guitar that walks in then played ‘Black Hole Sun’ and I lay down on the monitor speaker and all of the photographers are going crazy so it was such a cool show.

and playing rounds or acoustic on the overseas tours compared to full band shows:

It’s completely different but I love it! Different in the way I arrange songs and make a setlist, some of the songs I play I will only play with my band and some songs I will only play solo. There are certain songs that just lend themselves better to a lot less instruments and production that really work well with an acoustic guitar and a vocal. In that scenario with Brandy (Clark), Devin (Dawson) and Tenille (Townes) it just worked so well on that setup. They are just magical moments where it’s like a present that gets unwrapped in a different way that you never normally get to see it. You normally see it with a band or all these tracks and stuff but in a writers round you get to look at it this way compared to people looking at it from the other side. It’s fun as an artist, a singer songwriter to be able to present it to an audience and see that difference in reaction in their faces.

Lindsay on her new single and the first taste of her new album:

Cutting an outside song is something completely out of my comfort zone as writing is such a big part of what I do but I believe that great songs deserve to have opportunities and I support Nashville as such a song town with some of the most incredible writers in the world. I was told if you find a song that fits you, it’s like a jacket. If you put on a song and can wear it well, it feels like it’s tailored to you and fits your shoulders and stuff then that song was meant for you! If I hear a song and am like I wish I could have wrote that but I never would have said it that way and that’s the time you cut it.

A friend of mine Adam Hambrick who has written a lot of my singles in the past wrote it with Melissa Fuller and Neil Medley then when I heard it I was like this is just an incredible song that I need to bring it to life. It wound up in my inbox but literally down to the little details I feel it was written for me so when I heard it I was like this song is so good. I wasn’t gonna cut it initially but it was just that song that kept coming back so it was the last song to fit on our first session and now it’s slowly changing my life.

Then Lindsay on what else we can expect from her next album:

I really hope by spring we will have it, I really wish I could have it for you right now on a silver platter. I’ve been playing some new songs live, tonight at The Grace I’ll probably throw in a couple of brand new songs but at the end of the day it’s all about making sure it’s right. This next album is gonna be about everything that has happened in my life over the past 2 years which I’ve been writing about all of it so I want it to be about the progression of somebody going through any major transition in their life. Whether that be a breakup or moving across the world or job or whatever with going through the work and whole process as someone coming out the other side and being someone ready to take control of their life so I just wanna make sure the songs are right. I’ve cut half of it, we’ll be going in the studio in January to finish recording most of it with maybe one more little session in February.

When we last spoke, Lindsay said to us “The first album is the first footprint in a direction and the second is your statement!” so what the statement is that we can expect from it:

The statement is just being confident in who you are! The statement is basically saying this is me, you can take it or leave it! I went through a pretty public breakup, I turned 30 and I finally feel like I’m at the point in my life where I know who I am. Sometimes it takes those catastrophic things and 30 years to figure that out this is the point where THIS IS ME! So that’s what the record is going to be about.

Lindsay is due to return to Europe in March 2020 appearing at C2C Festival in Berlin and Amsterdam. Her new single ‘I Don’t Love You’ is available worldwide HERE and to keep up to date with all things Ell you can check her out on Twitter Facebook Instagram


Annette Gibbons
Hi, I’m Annette, I have been a huge country music fan since the early 90s those were the days we were lucky enough to have CMT in the UK. I enjoy nothing more than listening to country music whilst having a cold beer (or a moonshine) with friends. I try to as many gigs as I can here in the UK and in the USA; I think of Nashville as my second home and I am lucky to have made some amazing friends in Tennessee. Think Country is something I am very proud of, I just want to share my love and passion of all things country music related with you all.
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