Exclusive AUK Black Deer Backstage Video: Elles Bailey

Photo credit: Andrew Frolish

The time has flown by since the 2023 edition of the Black Deer Festival wowed its devoted followers with Americana magic and left us with some incredible memories.  Much of the best music over the weekend was featured on the Ridge Stage, a huge tent with a great atmosphere.  It was there that we could absorb ourselves in the daily songwriter circles, during which we learned a little more about the songs – the process and the inspiration – and the artists responded to one another to create something really special.  The Ridge was also where a number of the festival’s best acts put on truly explosive performances: Dylan LeBlanc, Bonny Light Horseman, Midlake, Allison Russell and Simeon Hammond Dallas were among those who delighted old fans and won over new ones.  One of the most powerful singers at the Ridge over the weekend was Elles Bailey, who filled the tent with her soulful, characterful voice.

Photo credit: Andrew Frolish

Elles Bailey is having some year.  Shortly before Black Deer, she completed a huge 30-date headline tour and enjoyed great success, once again, at the 2023 Americana Music Association UK Awards where she won the Artist of the Year Award and the inaugural Live Act of the Year Award.  Then, there were three awards from UK Blues.  Bailey manages to blend a range of styles and influences, winning recognition for her talent in different genres: blues, Americana, country and rock.  We gave her acclaimed 2022 album ‘Shining in the Half Light’ an impressive 9/10 review here and it has just had the ‘deluxe edition’ treatment.  It’s a strong collection of well-written songs that showcase Bailey’s distinctive vocal.  AUK caught up with Elles backstage at Black Deer for this exclusive brand new song and a few words.  For the video, she was joined by Demi Marriner and Matt Owens (co-founder of Noah and the Whale), who reinforced the gorgeous tone of her voice.  Check out the power of this entirely raw and unplugged performance from an incredibly talented artist.  Enjoy.

Photo credit: Andrew Frolish

It’s been some year for awards with the Blues Awards and AMAUK Awards.  How do you feel about this cross-genre recognition?

I just feel incredibly lucky.  I feel blessed that I’ve been welcomed into so many different scenes.  It’s a lovely thing to feel like I have a home in the blues and a home in Americana and rock.

‘Shining in the Half Light’ has been successful as well with the Deluxe version out now.  What was it like writing that album?

It was partly written in a lockdown and partly written just before lockdown and it was recorded when I was six months pregnant.  So it was a very strange time in all our existences.  ‘Shining in the Half Light’ feels like this really precious oasis in a desert, really.  My band were the only people I hugged other than my husband and then our baby in that whole time.  We all isolated so we could make the record together.  We made the record over a two or three week period and it was just wonderful.

So, it’s really of a moment.

It really is – it’s like a time capsule.

What’s coming next?

I’ve got to write a new record.  You’ve just heard ‘Good News Day’  and I guess that’s the start to the new chapter.  It’s a song that Matt and I have been writing.  Matt wrote ‘Sunshine City’ with me.  He wrote ‘Hole in My Pocket’ on the Deluxe Edition and we’ve been writing loads together, so I expect quite a few Matt Owens cuts on this new album.  Myself and Demi and Tamara Stewart have written one as well.  I’m doing loads of writing and I’m booked in to do the record, so you can definitely expect to hear a whole album from me next year but I’ve actually got new music dropping next month.  You know me – I don’t keep quiet for too long!

Is ‘Good News Day’ the tone of the new record?

I feel like at the moment…I’m telling you things I shouldn’t that don’t even exist yet!  I feel like ‘Good News Day’ is maybe the title of the new album.  In my head, I think that’s where it is.  ‘Good News Day’ for me sums up all my feelings about me personally but also as a collective.  We really do need good news days now because there’s so much negativity around.  I’m an empath – I feel it all.  I was definitely on a downward tailspin when we wrote this.  I just feel this will sum up what this whole album is about.  It might not!  It might have a totally different title!  We’ll find out!

What’s it like playing a festival like Black Deer?

It’s unreal.  I played the inaugural 2018 year.  I’ve been here all weekend – that’s why my voice is knackered!  I’ve enjoyed it all: I’ve been a punter down the front, sobbing like a baby to Bonnie Raitt, harmonising with the Teskey Brothers.  Bonny Light Horseman blew my mind – they were the standout for me, other than Bonnie.  It’s been truly incredible.

It’s great that you’ve been here as a punter all weekend, soaking it all up.

Exactly.  I never get to do that.  That never happens.  I was on the first wave of artists that got booked to do this and I knew that Bonnie was playing before anyone else did so I booked a hotel thankfully!  I booked a hotel and then told my agent, my darling agent Beth, “Don’t book me anything!  Sign me off for the whole weekend – I’m going to Black Deer.  That’s where you can find me.”

About Andrew Frolish 1454 Articles
From up north but now hiding in rural Suffolk. An insomniac music-lover. Love discovering new music to get lost in - country, singer-songwriters, Americana, rock...whatever. Currently enjoying Nils Lofgren, Ferris & Sylvester, Tommy Prine, Jarrod Dickenson, William Prince, Frank Turner, Our Man in the Field...
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