There’s a beautiful anonymity that comes with over-the-phone interviews. When you ask Ernest Ellis a question like ‘What are you wearing?’ and the only foreseeable response is of uninhibited laughter, it’s a wonderful transition into a cosy tête-à-tête.
With his first album, Hunting debuting on June 18th and impending shows with Florence and The Machine in early August, Ernest Ellis is starting to warm the hearts of anyone that has started to feel the violent cold this season. After first striking notes with his single ‘Bad Blood’, and having not even kicked off his Winter tour, Sydney resident Ellis, joined by band members Mat Gardner (drums), Ben Morgan (bass), and co-producer and good friend Tim Carr, have already been violated by the masses seeking smooth musical healing and the continuity of a fully cohesive album.
Music Feeds spoke with Ellis in the lead up to the release of Hunting.
Music Feeds: So tell us a bit about your upcoming debut album.
Ernest Ellis: It was recorded over a long period of time because I just kept writing more and more songs that I wanted to add to it. So it was a long process, which generally comes with first records, but I’m really happy with the result. I think it works really well as an entire album.
MF: It seems like you’re interested in experimentation when it comes to recording; even with Hunting you recorded a lot of the songs outdoors and in open spaces like a farmhouse. What’s the reason behind those setting choices?
EE: I just get sick of the way studios tend to come in really sterile environments. I just wanted to go out to places like farmhouses and warehouses and to keep moving around. I wanted to use different spaces to my advantage and to the songs advantage, I guess. Often, with studios you get into the habit of just ‘going through the motions’ but with going out to places you haven’t been before and using different locations, it creates an element of curiosity, an atmosphere that makes you want to delve in to the process a bit more.
MF: So it wasn’t out of pure convenience or brilliant multi-tasking that a lot of your vocals were recorded lying in a bathtub?
EE: Haven’t you heard the old adage that men can’t multi-task? (laughs) No, that actually started out of a bit of stubbornness. We were having a moody chat and I went into the bathroom because I decided to have a bit of a tantrum. I wanted to do the vocals in a certain area of the house, so as I was lying in the tub (it wasn’t filled with water) I just sort of said to Tim, my co-producer that I wanted to record in there because of the natural reverb often found in bathrooms. So I lay down in the tub and recorded three or four songs. I actually almost fell asleep at one point.
MF: Being so affected by the varying acoustics of different environments, have you done much globe plotting for your second record?
EE: There are plenty of places. I’d like to go to Cuba to record and to Acapulco, mainly because of the Bob Dylan song, or Peru or Argentina. Basically somewhere warm, somewhere tropical and escapist. I want to go somewhere you know you’re on holiday even though you’re supposed to be doing work. You definitely wouldn’t be going to a place like Russia to record, because it’s so industrial and cold.
MF: You say you can’t describe your music, but you openly draw a lot of inspiration from other forms of media, like books, songs and films. If you could compare your music to a book or movie, what book would it be and why?
EE: If I could equate it to a movie, I guess it would be The Shining or 2001: A Space Odyssey. I don’t know why, it’s kind of weird. Wait, can I change my answer? Can I say a mixture of Space Odyssey and Clockwork Orange? I guess I just try to make music that can be viewed as a whole piece of work rather than a few songs or singles surrounded by a bunch of other shit songs. I put an equal amount of work into every song to make it a whole piece or album and I feel those movies do that too. Maybe I’m just saying that because they’re my favourite movies.
MF: Sounds deep. How deep do you go when it comes to writing and producing?
EE: I’ve been researching a bit of stuff today. I researched what equipment The Rolling Stones used for Exile On Main St. because I just bought the vinyl copy of it and I’ve been listening to it, so that’s my research. I’m looking at using some of that equipment for my next record. I’m always thinking ahead.
MF: What are your thoughts on your winter tour and sharing the stage with Florence and the Machine?
EE: It’s all really exciting. We’ve got Splendour in the Grass amidst our own tour and then supporting Florence and the Machine in August, which will be a great opportunity for us. We’ve also got really great venues and I haven’t played at the Enmore before so I’m really looking forward to that.
MF: What are your hopes for Splendour in the grass and what can we expect from your performance there?
EE: If you’ve seen The Flaming Lips perform before, then you can expect something like that. Pyrotechnics, light shows and big screens, that’s what you’ll most likely get.
MF: What does the future hold for Ernest Ellis?
EE: We’ve got some really exciting stuff coming up in the immediate future but I really just want to start making another record and hopefully have people really enjoy this one. Then just keep working because I honestly just enjoy making music more than anything else and I hope that I can keep doing that.
Ernest Ellis’ debut album Hunting is out Friday 18th June through Dew Process. He’ll be launching the record with a run of shows down the east coast during July. Click here for the dates.