Dirty Dozen: Elles Bailey

Fresh from recording her debut album in Nashville, Elles Bailey’s ‘blues fuelled’ voice is getting her recognition wherever she plays. This captivating, hard-working songstress seamlessly weaves rootsy blues, country and soulful rock with her trademark  ‘smoky vocals’ taking the lead.

Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years? 
So I’m Elles Bailey, singer/songstress hailing from the very lovely, musical town of Bristol, UK. I fronted an indie band throughout my early teens but when that disbanded, after taking a little break (where I did a degree in Psychology) I started touring as Elles Bailey. For the last few years I have been writing, recording and playing all over the UK & Europe. I have had the privilege of working with some of the best musicians in Bristol and was fortunate to be able to work with some of Nashville’s ‘crème de la crème’ whist recording my debut album.

How would you describe your music?
I blend ‘rootsy blues’, ‘country’ and ‘soul’ with a contemporary rocky edge. I have a husky quality to my voice, which developed from a pretty serious stint in hospital as a child, where my throat almost closed up. When finally I came out of hospital and started to talk again my parents were pretty shocked, as gone was the voice I’d had and in it its place was someone who sounded like they smoked 60 a day! Not exactly what you would expect from your average 3 year old! They took me to a specialist, who checked out my voice who thankfully found nothing permanently wrong. He did say, however “If she’s a singer, she will be great at singing the blues!”

Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
When I write songs I often like to write about the people and musicians who have influenced me…..My song ‘Howlin’ Wolf’ Is written about Chess Records, and ‘Perfect Storm’ is written about Muscle Shoals, the small backwater town in Alabama, where musicians came together and created music that was ‘colourblind’ – ‘Lives collided and a sound was born’

I was brought up by my dad on a diet of chess records blues & rock & roll. I love the soul of the music and am enthralled by the stories behind these great musicians. Etta Jame, Janis Joplin, Dusty Springfield and Fleetwood Mac, they have all played a part in my musical upbringing but I’ve always listened to loads of different styles of music, and take inspiration from everything I see and hear.

What are you currently promoting?
My new Single Wildfire is out on the 10/02/2017 and is the first single from my debut album (recorded in Nashville) that will drop late springtime. It’s a really gritty rocky tune, featuring my road guitarist, the songs co-writer Joe Wilkins, and Grammy award-winning guitarist Brent Mason as well as some incredible musicians from Nashville.

Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
I think the song lyrically I am most proud of is my track ‘Girl who owned the Blues’ featured on The Elberton Sessions and my new album. It’s written about the late great Janis Joplin who was known for her raw, powerful voice that was combined with her turbulent and emotional lifestyle. She was incredibly creative and has inspired generations of artists but that creatively was born from the agony and pain of her life. She really was ‘The Girl Who Owned The Blues’

What are you currently listening to?
I just can’t get enough of Chris Stapleton right now. When I was out in Tennessee I was staying in a beautiful house in Leipers Fork (one of the coolest places I have ever stayed), with a big porch that overlooked a beautiful wood. I’d come home from the studio, grab a beer and wind down listening to his album Traveller. Bliss! I’m also really digging Bonnie Raitt’s Dig In Deep – that woman is just too cool!

And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?
Man that’s just mean as there are so many…..But here’s a couple for you!
Rumours – Fleetwood Mac (I love every song on that iconic record)
Also Unashamedly I love Gavin DeGraw’s ‘Chariot’ album. Such a great record that reminds me of being a teen!

What are your hopes for your future career?
Hopes for the future –  I love touring the UK and Europe but for the future I’d love to be able tour America. Watch this space. On a different note I am so thankful that people have supported my adventure, brought my records and come to shows and I truly hope that continues. To have a long-term career in music, one where I can afford to support my family, that’s the real dream!

If money were no object what would be your dream project?
Wow this is tough…. But If money were not object I would love to do a collaboration album with a mixture of superstar musicians/artists and under the radar artists. I think that would be a pretty awesome project to be involved in.

What’s the best thing about being a musician?
There are so many great things about being a musician, but I love travelling and meeting new people. I’m about to start a 33 date tour of the UK and Europe and I just can’t wait to get out on the road again! It’s a real privilege to be able to see the world whilst doing something I love.

And the worst?
I’m a DIY musician, and although I have a great team of people working with me, there is still a lot of admin… that’s not so fun!

Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?
Thank you so much for listening – your support means so much to all us grass roots musicians!

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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