Interview: Lindsay Ell

“Watching Keith Urban play guitar is so inspiring to me because it’s the epitome of what I see my show being one day.”

IMG_0856.JPG

Back in October, I headed out to Tottenham Court Road in Central London for ‘Country Music Week Presents: Lindsay Ell Live at the Boarderline’. It had been a while since I’d last met up with Lindsay, and with good reason, as she’d been all over the world touring with the likes of Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Sugarland. We caught up backstage in her dressing room before she played the sold-out show.  

(Watch the video at the bottom of this page)

Hey Lindsay, how’s it going?

I’m so excited to be back in London and to be playing a sold-out show tonight at the Boarderline! It’s just incredible.

Yeah! Have you played here before?

I have, yes. I love this venue. I played it before it got renovated and then I played it a year ago for Country Music week, so it’s amazing to come back and celebrate that anniversary, and to sell out the club tonight is really cool. 

I’ve not seen you since C2C. You’ve been on the podcast but we haven’t hung out since then.

I know, it’s been a minute! I’ve been busy touring and playing all over the world, opening up for Brad Paisley and Sugarland this summer, and Mr Keith Urban. It’s been quite busy!

What’s been the highlight?

It’s hard to choose just one moment, but I will say watching Keith Urban play guitar is so inspiring to me because it’s the epitome of what I see my show being one day in terms of the way Keith plays the guitar. He’s a little bit bluesy and he has so much feel, and so it was really cool being able to watch Keith play. I would watch every single minute of his show because I felt it was a masterclass of what I want to do one day and trying to pick up how he moves. Not only is he a great guitar player and a great singer but he’s just such an incredible performer; the way he dances to the way he runs around on stage. I just felt like that was the best university I could ever go through.

image.png

With C2C, everyone here makes their way like a pilgrimage to every year to this big country music festival. How does that differ from doing that in Nashville, for a start, where it’s just the way of life and always has been?

I feel like C2C is different than festivals in the States, or even in Canada, because there’s an appreciation for country music here. I don’t know if it’s just because there are not as many country music festivals so that when people do make the pilgrimage and come a long way, or the fact they only get that one time of year where all of these people are in town at once, it’s sort of ‘go big or go home’ and listen to a lot of music for a weekend. They just want to take in everything. They want to see so many shows. You know, there’s five shows going on at the same time and you have fans running from all of these different venues within the O2. I remember playing the Spotlight Stage this year, and you have fans who are up at the front on Main Stage and then for the twenty-minute show for the Spotlight Stage they run over to the Spotlight Stage and I’m just in a sea of people all the way up to the top. It’s incredible. 

c2c-19.jpg

That was a really special moment when you played the Spotlight Stage, it was almost like the magic of the way you play guitar and everything that goes along with that just came out and filled the room. I loved that. 

It’s kind of cool because I’ve loved every show I’ve gotten to come over to the UK and play. But to be able to play on a stage like that and in front of so many people who, a lot of them, had never heard my name before, it was just so thrilling as an artist to be able to have that opportunity, and maybe have people be like, “Oh, who is that.”  

And you got hit off that because you came off stage and everyone was asking for your picture. We ran backstage, didn’t we?

I know, we totally did! That’s right. Right after I walked off stage. 

When we talked on the podcast, we obviously talked about ‘The Continuum Project’ and I’d love to chat about that again.

Absolutely! Before I walked into the studio to record my own record, I was confused as an artist about what to say and what songs I wanted to choose. I didn’t really know where I was going for that album. So, my producer, Christian Bush, was like, “Forget about all that, what’s your favourite album?” And I’m a huge John Mayer freak and ‘Continuum’ is my favourite album. I listen to it all the time. So, he’s like, “Perfect, I want you to lock yourself in your studio and for two weeks record every single instrument on that record and record it top to bottom.”

So, we put that aside, and we go into the studio to start recording my own record, never thinking we were going to do anything with it. It was merely just a project to make those gears click! Then I started talking about it, and fans started asking about it, and then they started harassing me about it, being like, “We want to hear this, where is it!” 

And so, I was like, what’s the harm? Why wouldn’t I release it? It’s not perfect - John’s version is always going to be the perfect version of ‘Continuum’ - but this is just ‘Continuum’ through my eyes and maybe someone will be inspired from it. It’s been so cool to see fans fall in love with it. It’s much more raw, it’s much more organic, it’s a lot more about the lyric, but it’s been fun to see fans take a liking to it.

And funny enough, I was in LA writing a week before we were releasing ‘The Continuum Project’, and I met some friends at this restaurant, and what are the chances? Out of the thousands of restaurants in Los Angeles that we chose this random restaurant in West Hollywood, and I sit down, and my friends are like, “John Mayer is sitting three tables away from us.” And I was like, “Stop playing with my emotions, that is not funny you guys!” And I look, and sure enough, John Mayer is sitting thirty feet away from me. I hate interrupting people at restaurants, but thankfully they hadn’t ordered food yet, so I was like, if I don’t go up to him I’m going to be kicking myself. So, I went up to his table and was like, “Hi John, I’m Lindsay and I recorded ‘Continuum’.” I just got it all out there because I didn’t know what else to say! And he looked up and said, “Oh, you’re Lindsay Ell, I know who you are.” I was completely taken aback, I had no idea John had even heard of me, let alone know I did this thing! And he just said, “Thank you so much for recording ‘Continuum’, it’s really an honour. I can’t wait to listen to it.” 

I have heard he’s listened to it and thinks it’s really cool, which is awesome and the only thing I wanted him to think. 

It must be strange because you recorded it with such authenticity and played it so close, and yet at times went off and added “you” in.

Yeah, completely. It was sort of a grey line because I wanted to pay homage to what it is, I didn’t want to go off completely, but then there were some moments when I was like I’m going to do my own thing here. So, it was definitely a pick-and-choose in terms of certain times, but I’m glad he likes it!

Are you going to be throwing any John Mayer in tonight?

I think so!

Wicked! What about new stuff?

I think I am going to play some new songs. It’s weird because in the past week my car got broken into and I had my whole show programmed on this synthesizer. I was going to come up and do all these cool things and of course, it got stolen two days before tonight. And then as I was flying across the world I lost my pedal board. It’s kind of cool though, the way the universe works, because it really just took me back to being like, I’m an artist and I play music and I just need to go in front of an audience and play music. And so, I’m kind of just striping it back down to what I am and what I do, and we will see what happens! I don’t even know half of what I’m going to go! I’m going to just make an open-ended set list and see where it goes! 

Lindsay is currently on the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour. 

Follow Matt Spracklen
Instagram - @MattSpracklen
Twitter - @MattSpracklen