With the release of his debut EP, Alex James Ellison has fulfilled a dream oh so few of us have, can or ever will. He may not be the most well known new talent to emerge from our shores in recent times, but rest assured, determination and ambition are two things this young man holds in spades. He agreed to a chat prior to his EP release party, to be held at Proud Camden today, and he was certainly in a jovial mood. Read on to discover his two firsts – album and concert – and just who and what influences him to write and create the music that he hopes many will listen to in the coming months.
Tell me a little about yourself please Alex.
Well I look 17 but I’m actually 21. When I was young, I insisted that I only wanted to wear shorts and so for 4 years straight, I didn’t touch long trousers! I went to the BRIT School and it was awesome. Now my life consists of gigging, writing, recording, and I also do little bits of acting here and there. I just shot a commercial for the airline company Flybe recently.
You’re about to release your debut EP ‘Duvet Days’ – excited much?
I absolutely cannot wait for everyone to hear what we’ve been working on. It really has been a team effort and a lot of hard work has gone into it! The fact that the launch party is at Proud Camden tops it off really!
Where’d you get the name of the EP from?
The name comes from a combination of ideas. My ex-girlfriend and I used the phrase as a code word when we were on the phone to each other, meaning that we couldn’t speak about something right then as it was a secret between the two of us, and other ears may be around… which fits in well with my songs as they all have their own independent story and are secrets with the person who it is written about! Originally I was going to write a song with it as the title and then the credit went to my mum when she suggested it as the title of the whole EP…hi Mum!
How long have you been working up to this release?
This specific release has been in my head for the past nine months and it all started back when a wicked guy called Joe Sterling moved into my house. From not knowing him at all, we quickly realised that we had lots in common, writing music and listening to the same artists, and so we developed some of the stuff I had already written and started writing new material too. He’s my best mate now! I have continuously been working on the EP since then really, trying to move it forward as quickly as possible, but have learnt numerous times that you just can’t rush it! It’s better to be calmly walking up to it, taking time to make it the best that it can be, than to have it rush past you in a manic blur.
I’d love to know the stories behind each track, if that’s okay, so if you could just detail a little about each?
Give You Everything – This song is a going-out-and-having-fun song. It’s all about being young and partying and meeting new people.
Recipe For Life – One of my first songs, it is all the sayings that I’ve heard growing up, but then flipping them on their head to make them work for me! It’s the way that I see life and how I’d like to keep positive and proactive.
Same Old Things – I wrote this song pretty much straight after a break up so it is the most raw-feeling song on the EP. I’m reflecting back over the relationship and working out if I made the right choices and what would have happened if I had done things differently.
Where Do I Fit In – This song was written after I got to know a girl quite well and things were great… except she had a boyfriend. So for the flirty part it was fun and happy, but ultimately, we both knew nothing could happen. We’ve got a video coming out with Louisa Connelly Burnham, an actress from CBBC and Nickelodeon shows, playing the girl. Keep an eye out for that!
Your Love – This is about how a girl can have such an effect on you that it takes over your thoughts ALL OF THE TIME meaning you can’t think about anything else… Grrrr… And finding distractions to help you get over someone!
Out of those tracks, do you have a favourite, and if so, which is it and why?
My favourite to perform is ‘Give You Everything’. It’s upbeat and it’s great to get the crowd singing along and having some fun! The song that means the most to me is ‘Same old Things’, because it is so real and when I perform it, it takes me right back to how I was feeling at that time.
Where do you find your inspiration when it comes to writing?
Inspiration plays a massive part for me. It mostly comes from relationships or experiences that I’ve had which means that if I’m not going out and experiencing life, I find it hard to write anything decent. But when something happens, I start writing down my thoughts straight away and find I can write quickly and copiously.
How easy or difficult do you find the writing/recording process?
The writing process comes naturally as it kind of fits itself together especially when I collaborate. Like I said before, if I’m inspired then it just happens. I love recording, but do find it difficult because I don’t really like listening back to myself! Each time, I like it more so I’m getting used to it. I’ve been working with producer Joe Davison at Auburn Jam Music on the EP. I recently saw somebody describe him as a ‘musical wizard’ and that just about sums him up. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing his creative talents as well as his genuine want to help make the music the best it can be and there is nothing better than that!
If you could have written any other song, by any artist, living or dead, which would it be and why?
I’d have to say ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz. It is such a well written song and is clever and melodic and still so simple. When you listen to it, you instantly feel as if you know it and can relate to it. What a genius.
Do you remember the first album you ever bought?
I think it would be something like S Club 7’s album ‘7’! At least that’s the first I can remember being mine and not my brothers’. I used to listen and read the lyrics from the booklet! Those were the days!
What about the first concert you went to?
I went to Party in the Park in Brighton when I was about 10 and fell in love with the live performances I saw. I know Blazin’ Squad were playing but can’t remember anyone else really! We were sneaking around the back to try and get in to the backstage!
Your Facebook lists Jamie Cullum, Ed Sheeran and Michael Buble among your influences. What is it about the three of them that makes them so important to you?
Showmanship, musicianship and honesty. I really respect people who write their own songs as it isn’t easy to put your own thoughts and feelings out in to the public and Ed Sheeran seems to bare his soul constantly. His songs speak to me, as I’m sure they do others, on such a personal level and there is no denying this talent. I love listening to Jamie Callum as he is a unique artist and is so genuine. The fact that he is a great pianist as well as a singer leaves me in awe with his talent and skill. Buble has the performance skills and knows how to put on a mind blowing show. I’m a big fan of all the jazz standards with the band and think he is naturally a funny guy and an entertainer.
You’re still rather unknown compared to some other artists who have emerged around the same time, but how important have the likes of Twitter and YouTube been in getting word about you out to potential fans and listeners?
I think in this world, you kind of have to move with it or get left behind! So all of these tools are vital to help establish yourself and to start building up a fan base. I am so grateful to all of my fans for all of the support they have given me and hope this will grow after the release. So yeah, follow and say hi on twitter @TheAlexEllison or look me up on FB, YouTube, Instagram… all of them! I’m very friendly!
What are your tour/future performance plans?
We have a few dates booked in for more gigs, and are hoping to start a schools tour after the launch. I can’t confirm anything now but things are in place to commence around May. Until then, gigging and more gigging. Hard work pays off so it’s the only way!
If you had to give one reason or explanation as to what makes you different from other artists, what would you say?
I guess I kind of see myself as a combination of the influences I mentioned above. I like that I write my own stuff using my piano and guitar skills to my advantage, meaning I can be creative and not just follow the stereotypes of pop. I also think that I have the live performance skills and a bit of a cheeky personality to keep the audience hooked and make people smile. At the end of the day, people like listening to music that they can relate to, and I write songs about everyday things so I hope people will like the fact that I am genuine!
Finally then, where can fans and listeners go if they want to find out more about you?
You’re more than welcome to come over for a cuppa, although I don’t actually drink tea! Other ways are on the crazy world of twitter: @TheAlexEllison or on YouTube and Facebook: Alex James Ellison Music and of course you can go to alexjamesellison.com! Oh and of course… find me on iTunes from March 22nd!