Dirty Dozen: Kate Ellis

Kate Ellis is an Americana singer/songwriter born in Louisiana, raised in NYC and now based in London. Kate’s southern country-folk roots and musical heritage comes from her father, who once played guitar with Hank Williams on the famous Louisiana Hayride, where Elvis and Cash started out. Her first single ‘Ones You Love The Most’ has been streamed over 60,000 times and played across the UK on stations including Amazing Radio, Chris Country, and BBC regional radio. She’s releasing her debut album “Carve Me Out” in June 2017.

Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where my father was from, but my mother was English and used to metropolitan living so we moved to New York pretty early on which is where I grew up. I’m now based in London. I feel a bit like a mix of all these parts of me – this sort of funny jumble of cultures and roots. For the past few years I’ve been raising a family and writing, recording and playing music from the heart.

How would you describe your music?
For me music is a way to be totally connected to the deepest part of myself. I believe that music can reach a place inside of us that’s most alive. So when you play it or listen to it or create it you feel like you’re being very, very connected to who you are. That’s why I write songs and what I write about. Whatever my songs are about in terms of subject matter, whether they are peaceful and still, or more unrestrained and upbeat, they’re always about an inside emotional experience getting externalised in a musical way.

Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
I got a lot of my first musical influences through my father. He was from Louisiana so he loved a lot of southern country folk music  – that’s how I got exposed to it. I’m in the process of making a series of short videos about his record collection and the songs that most influenced me growing up, from Johnny Cash to Pete Seeger. And music was also the love of his mother, my grandmother – she left me her harmonica in her will, which I still have. My other grandmother was a pianist actually so I guess you could say that music in the family always influenced me.

What are you currently promoting?
My debut album “Carve Me Out” that’s coming out in June. It has been half a lifetime in the making and I’m so proud and happy to have done it! A lot of the feelings I write about are coming from things I’ve struggled with and still struggle with on the darker side of life. But the songs are also dealing with the feeling of when something breaks through that – whether it’s through someone else or from within – a realization, or a hope.

Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
I’d go with the first single off the album “Ones You Love the Most”. It’s a heart-breaking song really, but I think there can be something incredibly beautiful about being connected to a strong emotion even if it’s a really sad one – often especially if it’s a really sad one.

What are you currently listening to?
‘Overnight’ by Josienne Clark and Ben Walker, the new Ryan Adams album ‘Prisoner’ and Curse of Lono’s debut album ‘Severed’.

And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?
Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde. Bob Dylan was my first true musical love — Visions of Johanna, I Want You, and Just Like a Woman are some of my favourite ever Dylan songs.

What are your hopes for your future career?
To make music that moves people. I hope I can keep making music that people find something that is beautiful and moving and truthful in. That’s what touches you and helps you connect with real emotion of any kind, I think, when you hear something that’s truthful.

If money were no object what would be your dream project?
It’s probably more about luck than money, but it would be amazing to write and play songs with artist whose music I admire and connect with the most. Like Bob Dylan or Mary Chapin Carpenter or Nanci Griffith. Or singer/songwriters like Gillian Welch, Tift Merritt and First Aid Kit. And if reality were no object then I’d include the ones that aren’t around anymore like Gram Parsons, Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake.

What’s the best thing about being a musician?
Being able to do what I love, being creative, expressing myself, and make songs that carry beauty and emotion.

And the worst?
Social Media – I hate promoting myself!

Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?Thanks for reading this far down!

 

Author: Rudie Hayes

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show – The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session – playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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