All Ell Is About To Break Loose
November 14, 2013
Can a talented, guitar-slinging, songwriting, attractive ball of fire from Canada bust through the existing brick wall for female artists in Country music?
The guys at Stoney Creek Records would answer that question with a resounding, "Ell Yeah!"
As in Lindsay Ell, the aforementioned Canadian ball of fire. Apparently, she's also a multi-tasker, as demonstrated by her juggling of a European tour stint with The Band Perry, visiting Country radio and setting up her debut single, "Trippin' On Us," as we speak.
Broken Bow Records Music Group EVP Jon Loba conducted six months of reconnaissance on Ell before meeting her and his expectations were lofty. She seems to have met and/or exceeded all of them. "What struck us immediately was that thing you can't quantify or explain; that thing that separates talented artists from superstar acts, the 'It Factor' we're all looking for in this business," remembers Loba. "Lindsay has that in spades and it jumped out at us instantly. We invited her to come and play for the entire label and they had the same reaction. We offered Lindsay a deal that day."
Loba and the gang at Stoney Creek dismiss the notion of forever surrendering every precious female airplay slot to the existing big three female stars: Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift.
So would Ell. "I fully realize what I'm getting into," she says. "Call me crazy, I guess. It's difficult to find that unique voice and gain traction, but I know this is what I was meant to do."
Looking at Ell's background, it sure seems that way. Like most musicians she caught the bug early, instinctively picking up a guitar and playing piano. But she also found herself in the company of some pretty famous players at a young age, first meeting Canadian legend Randy Bachman of Bachman-Turner-Overdrive fame when she was just 13.
Bachman became a mentor, teacher and ardent supporter of Ell's, introducing her to numerous other influences and eventually, tutoring her on the songwriting craft. "Getting focused on the technical side of the guitar was first," says Ell. So much so that -- like most musicians -- she sacrificed a lot of the usual teenaged activities, instead opting to hole up in her room learning to shred solos.
Next she crossed paths with Blues icon Buddy Guy, eventually performing alongside him for several dates. And you don't last more than one gig with Guy if you can't hang with him note for note. So between her devotion to the guitar and her study at the feet of accomplished and famous players, Ell eventually identified that unique voice mentioned earlier.
"Being a female guitar player is been important to me; I want to show younger girls that I can be a role model," explains Ell. "I don't know why there aren't as many girls guitar players in Country music. There are a lot of girls who play guitar very well, but as far as lead/electric we don't see that."
Loba calls Ell's mad guitar skillz, "Part of her soul and being; not just a prop." And he believes Country, as a format, is "Absolutely ready for a female who can really 'bring it' on a guitar. I think the format has been ready."
But he adds that the key is having awesome musicianship complement, rather than replace, hit songs. "Nobody cares how amazing anyone is on guitar, drums or a damn tuba if there aren't hit songs wrapped around it," Loba explains. "Luckily, I believe Lindsay has those, too."
Obviously in this format, the guitar God category is currently staffed by Keith Urban and Brad Paisley, who Ell describes as "idols of mine. Seeing how they put together shows, how they can speak to their audience through their songwriting brings another dimension. That's been a focus of my career too."
Since moving to Nashville, Ell has incorporated herself into the songwriting community and says she's found what she calls "My core group. There are so many amazing songwriters but you find the ones who you have chemistry with and who get your vibe. It's kind of like speed dating."
While playing and performing are old hat to Ell even at just 24 years old, this radio thing is all very new. Before jetting across the pond last week, Ell wrapped up phase one of her first-ever radio tour, a five-week trek that took her to 20 states over 10,000 miles and gawd-only-knows how many radio stations.
"I've been on stage for three hours a night, had monitors die and cords go out and anything that could possibly go wrong on stage happen," says Ell. "But I've never released anything to radio. It's exciting to me to be able to meet PDs and MDs. Everyone warned me about the hard work, but it felt like it went in the blink of an eye."
In order to keep that connection to radio and the industry going while she's thousands of miles away, Ell is filing daily video blogs to share her experience. Ell and All Access have partnered in this effort to make these blogs available in a series called "Ell Access." Get it? The series continues through mid-December.
Three installments are already posted and more are coming. So is "Trippin' On Us" the single which will impact on Monday, December 16th. "It's a song about young love," explains Ell. "There are so many songs that are sad ballads. I wanted to write some happy music, to capture that feeling of when everything still has that spark."
Well, she certainly seems to know something about spark. Ell yeah she does.