*Note* In addition to the article that ran in the Press & Sun-Bulletin, Chris Kocher also posted this blog- which includes a little more from that interview. Chris is a great interviewer, and Ellis enjoyed talking with him!
If there's one show I've been looking forward to seeing for months, it's the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival preview tour with Red Molly, Pat Wictor and Ellis. (That's Ellis over there on the right.)
I knew Pat and the ladies Red Molly before I saw them perform in the Emerging Artist Showcase at Falcon Ridge last year ... but I got there late that morning and missed Ellis' three songs. I'm hoping my article in today's paper makes up for it.
Expect some song-swapping and collaborations at Sunday's show - the tour started this week, and you can see some photos of the onstage bonding at Ellis' homepage.
All of these performers are very talented and have some solid CDs behind them. For instance, during our interview I asked Ellis how much more "emerged" she needed to be after just recording her sixth album this past winter. Her response was a laugh and, "That's a great question!" (Thank God I'm doing something right, at least!)
“As an artist, it feel like I go in stages where I have a coccoon-like thing, and then a whole bunch of new songs come out and I think, ‘Oh, yeah, this is where I’m at,’" she said by way of a real answer to my smart-aleck inquiry. "So maybe it’s constantly going to be like that throughout my career – it ebbs and flows that way. Hopefully we’re always emerging – or something.”
One of those more recent tunes is called "Coffee Song," and it's an ode to her favorite pick-me-up beverage. She wrote it as part of the 2006 Rift Magazine 36-hour songwriting contest - essentially, 11 songwriters in the Minneapolis area get called 36 hours before the show and told what the topic is. Talk about high pressure - but Ellis took it in stride.
“I felt so happy, because I love coffee so much. It was the perfect excuse to pour all my love for the beverage into the song," she said. "That’s a wonderful way to write songs – sometimes waiting for inspiration to strike is not the best way to do songwriting. Sometimes you have to have external inspiration to really sit down and write.”
As you'd expect, she's very excited about her new CD, tentatively titled Break the Spell, which should be out in the fall or early next year.
“I love it – there’s a lot of clarity, and I’m thrilled with it. I think I was talking on my Web site a little bit about the process, about how to get beyond myself, trying to put myself aside and by doing that also really diving in to what the song is really calling for," she said. "I’m excited for people to hear it, and I really hope it becomes their favorite CD. We really thought into every moment and made it was beautiful as we possibly can. Hopefully it will speak for itself.”
Expect some of those new songs to pop up in Saturday's show: “The songs don’t really like being kept in a box - they get really noisy and kinda bust through. There’s a lot of sponteniety in my shows – I don’t think my songs would allow me to keep them hidden. They force their way in.”
Maybe those "voices" are part of what keeps Ellis so loose and open with audiences during her shows (evident on her aptly-named live CD, Evidence of Joy).
“I feel more comfortable onstage than I do offstage at parties. It’s an interesting thing – the minute I got onstage in high school with my first rock band that I was in, and there was something about it that said, ‘This is how I feel closer to the Force, or whatever.’”
Hmmmm ... Jedi songwriting? Now that could be cool - as long
More with Ellis: "Hopefully we’re always emerging" (2007)