10 Questions with ... Ella Henderson
November 24, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Ella Henderson was born in Tetney, England and began singing and learning piano at a young age. She first came to the public's attention as a finalist on The X Factor in 2012.
Her debut album, "Chapter One," was released in October 2014 achieving #1 sales. Her debut single "Ghost" was co-written by producer/songwriter Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, and went straight to #1 in the UK, holding in the Top 5 for eight consecutive weeks. "Ghost" is currently exploding in the U.S. having cracked the Top 20 at Hot AC, and she recently achieved the highest debut position at Top 40 radio.
1) Your debut single, "Ghost," is blowing up at radio right now. There have been some big TV appearances recently on Ellen, Dancing With The Stars, and The Voice as well. Can you tell us about your inspiration for writing this song?
Writing "Ghost" with Ryan Tedder was such an amazing experience! He heard a Drake cover I uploaded online, and it was from that moment where we decided to meet in London in a studio. We ended up sitting round a piano writing the chorus "Ghost" within 20 minutes!
This song happened really rapidly and I instantly knew it was going be my first single! I guess our characters are very different as he is full of energy, and I'm quite chilled in the studio, so our personalities really worked well with one another.
2) How do you typically capture the inspiration for your music?
I always describe my music as my diary, and it's extremely autobiographical. This means whenever it comes to shooting a video or capturing content, I always have to make sure that everything reflects the mood I was feeling at the time of writing the song.
3) Please tell us what it was like working with Ryan Tedder?
One thing I took away from working with Ryan is that it doesn't matter what occupation you're in, to be at the top of your game you have to work from the ground up and to never cut corners or skip a step.
4) Do you feel that "Ghost" set the tone for the rest of your recently released debut album, "Chapter One?"
"Ghost" is the song that definitely sums up my album as a whole. It's soulful, powerful and anthemic, which is how I would describe "Chapter One."
5) Are you surprised with the success that your first single has received so far? The song has done so well on the charts, and artists such as Tinie Tempah and Sam Smith are tweeting your lyrics!
The reaction and support that "Ghost" has received is just insane! It was definitely something of the unexpected when it shot to No.1 back in the UK. I guess it's thrown a bit of confidence back into me for knowing I made the right decision in taking my time with my music and not releasing anything until I felt ready.
6) In the video for "Ghost", you do an amazingly sassy power strut! And the video was shot in New Orleans? How fun was that?
Ha Ha! Well, if you'd have seen me on the first take of power strutting ... I wouldn't have categorized it as a strut! Shooting my very first music video was a lot of fun!
Also, being in New Orleans was great because it has so much soul and jazz heritage, which is the kind of music I was brought up on. This location was perfect for "Ghost" as it helped capture a dark and emotive performance all round. Experiencing somewhere so musically orientated was definitely inspiring before heading onto set.
7) When you released "Ghost", you followed with a campaign called "Ghost Trail?" Can you tell me a bit about that?
Yeah! So when it came to going into a campaign with "Ghost," it had been a while since I had done anything major in the public eye. I wanted to come back into this with something fresh and exciting. So this is where the "Ghost Trail" idea spurred from as I wanted to give people the chance to discover my music creatively in a way that's not been done before.
We placed huge 3D art pieces along streets of cities all over the UK, and we involved different apps like Shazam, Aappar, and Whisper and we even did a surprise pop up gig performance for the fans. It was a fun way to get the ball rolling and to kick things off!
8) You used to write your own music alone, but you have now started collaborating with other songwriters. Do you prefer the collaborative songwriting process better or do you prefer to write on your own?
It's a mixture really! I mean, I always thought I would work better with a small team surrounding me and they were the only people who would help guide me through my writing process. However I found that travelling to different countries and working with all different types of co-writers and producers, I was constantly learning new things and it really helped me grow with my songwriting.
9) How different is performing in the US as opposed to the UK?
It's funny you know, because when I perform in the U.K. everyone knows who I am and they have some sort of expectation for my performance. But when I come to perform in the U.S., I get excited because it's like starting from the beginning all over again, as not many people have discovered my music yet and there's something quite refreshing about that.
10) Is there anything in particular that you'd like people to take away from listening to your music?
I hope that when people listen to my music they can relate to at least one song from the album. "Chapter One" has its highs and lows and everything on there is simply of my own experiences in life. All I ever want my music to be is real, raw & honest. When I think back to the music that I listened to growing up, I loved it because I believed it!
What music are you listening to now? Are there any new artists on the radio that you can't get out of your head?
It's a really exciting time to be part of the music industry. There are some incredible voices coming through! I love Sam Smith, London Grammar and The 1975.
When you aren't performing or writing new material, what do you like to do for fun? How do you wind down?
It sounds really cliché, but honestly I just love doing the normal things! I love hanging out with my friends, my family, and my dog! I make sure that my time off is quality time spent with the people who make me the happiest and most positive, so when I start a working day again I feel motivated.
Any pre-performance rituals?
People say I turn into an uncommunicative dolphin before I head onto stage. This is because I let out high vocal sirens and deep breaths which makes me sound crazy but it helps me calm my nerves and I put myself into my own bubble so no one can get into my head before my performance.
Thus far, what is one of your favorite memories of your career?
I have to say one of my best memories so far has to be when I performed at a festival back in the U.K. in front of thousands of people. It was the first time I had ever heard a crowd sing my song back to me ... It was just surreal! It reminded me of when I was little girl and how I had always dreamt of that moment! And yet there I was up on stage and it's actually become my reality!