With a gentle Welsh lilt to her voice, seasoned singer and performer Ellie Parris brings a beautifully controlled vulnerability to her music. A Neo-soul singer who’s teamed up with the prolific producer Jords, We talk over zoom about her inspirations and her musical journey.
So I’m speaking to the delightful Ellie Paris today, so your first EP was released in January, how was that journey been since then?
Ellie Parris: Oh gosh, it was so surreal. I’m very much an overthinker perfectionist, all of those words there. So it’s been a long time coming. Kind of last year a lot of things changed in my personal life and it just kind of threw me into ‘who cares, just put it out.’
Like ‘They love it, they hate it, it’s fine you love it.’ So I did that and I just did two singles and then I dropped the EP. I kind of miss being in that peak moment where it’s like all building up. But it went really well, it had a great reception.
I’m organizing some live shows with it now. I’m still doing some kind of live sessions and videos and things with it. So it’s going great. It’s not finished yet but it’s going great.
The journey just began. So what were the thoughts along the journey behind your EP Out of Sight?
Ellie: Out of Sight was very much what it says, Out of Sight. I’m at home in my own bubble. Kind of going through a lot of good things alone, but also a lot of bad things alone. So I just poured that into my creation, which I do anyway.
The lows were extra low and the highs were extra high. So with this one, I had to say ‘right now it’s time to just release.’ I think we all get to a stage where we procrastinate a lot and we get to a point where it’s like, right now’s the time and this time really felt right.
So on this EP, you had two producers, one was Jords and Wauve. How did that come about what was it like working with them?
Ellie: So we met through a mutual friend when I first moved to London about six years ago. When I first moved here, I was doing shows in Hoxton and we ended up on the same lineup which was really cool. Then our friendship kind of took off from there. We’ve always kind of made little bits of music here and there.
But this time our friendship was blossoming and we just decided to actually do it seriously and not just for fun and just focus down.
And we both love the same kind of music, the same kind of sounds. We see a lot of things in the same light, so it just kind of came together so naturally. And it was just amazing.
The song with Wauve we actually made in 2018, It was one of those songs that were just put to the side. When I was making this EP, I thought even though everything was kind of in the moment and in real-time that song specifically just kind of slotted in so well. And the lyrics and the feeling of it were still relevant to how I was feeling at the time. So it all just fixed like a puzzle piece perfectly.
So have you had a chance to perform it yet?
Ellie: I haven’t. So this is the next thing I’m organizing. I’ve recorded two live sessions of some of the songs. They’ll be coming out throughout the year. But the live shows have to be perfect. It has to be, every single instrument ready and it just it has to be a moment. So I’m still working on that one.
There has to be a four-hour sound check before, just to make sure everything’s working…
Ellie: Like everything has to be super authentic.
So you’ve got this very proficient Neo-soul sound, what brought you to that sound? What was your musical journey to get there?
Ellie: To be honest, I’ve always been a bit of a, I don’t wanna say a jazz head. Even from a young age, I’d hear certain instruments and it would just completely take my attention. Like when I would hear sax, when I would hear bass guitar it was always something that kind of just resonated in me. And I’d always loved Erykah Badu, always loved Sade, all of that kind of music.
I love RnB too, I love making that. I’ve made a lot of RnB music over the years unreleased of course. I think last year and me getting to a point where it was like ‘Right now, I just need to be me now.’
I just need to put out what I love. I went straight back to what I love and that was Neo-soul and Jazz. Being in the moment and those were the sounds that just came to life and luckily Jords was in that space too, he just loved all that kind of stuff.
So it just came out so naturally. I think from childhood and the first music that my parents would play.
What I get it was a place of healing and safety as well. When writing, how do you manage that line between, this is what I am comfortable talking about and the real emotion that is attached?
Ellie: That’s interesting. I don’t think I’ve done that intentionally. I think like I said, going through those very low lows. I think I just naturally got to a stage where I was expressing myself. I was also just a little bit guarded and it was definitely not intentional.
I’d like to keep some things close, but I also just think there’s so much power in being vulnerable.
So what do you think are some of your biggest inspirations when writing?
Ellie: I think I’m only just now getting to call myself a songwriter because…
I mean you’ve written songs and they are brilliant, Time has been added to the forever playlist. I’m slightly obsessed with that song.
Ellie: Jord’s went quite crazy on the production. He actually played bass and recorded it live himself. So that session was crazy.
Process, I’m very much a poet. I write daily, generally just to release. I tend to carry notes in my phone. I have a little notepad I go to when I’m trying to create a specific song with a specific meaning. Then I kind of just mould my poems into my songs.
Inspirations…just everyone. Everyone is music, even like RnB heads that are coming out now, like Bellah and JVCK JAMES. I’m just a sponge in my surroundings. And just writing what feels right.
And for example, Seasons it’s not written in a typical song structure. It’s kind of just like four sections and that’s it. There’s no kind of very specific structure. I try not to think too much like that.
So what do you think of being the biggest lessons that you’ve taken on whilst going through the process of writing, recording and creating?
Ellie: You just have to be you, there’s nobody in this world like you. So you just literally have to be you, unapologetically. And I think it took me a long time to understand that. I think a lot of people have to get to a very low place, almost like a desperate low state for them to make a change. And for me, I was one of those people.
So to go to fantasy, you are given a blank check and told you are going to do the best show and you have unlimited resources. What do you think like perfect for you at the moment?
Ellie: My God, I would want a full orchestra. An absolute full orchestra.
Royal Albert Hall, here we come.
Ellie: I would want to be outside in a forest. Just completely within nature in a hot country ideally. I’d almost want it to be kind of interactive, I’d want free instruments to be around so people can just join in if they want to.
Also, have a choir. I just want everybody to feel it with me. It’s all about feeling cause you can listen to music and it is just in your ears. But I feel like when you actually feel it and it kind of resonates with you it’s a completely different level and that’s where I try and take people into.
That’s why I try not to think too much about structure too much about all the surface-level things, because when it really comes down to it, really comes down to the music. So try and just keep that, number one.
Ellie: In school, you could just go into the music class and pick up an instrument and just play. As long as everybody’s smiling, I’m happy.
Perfect. So to go now into the future, what are you working on at the moment?
Ellie: Live show’s one hundred per cent. I used to do some shows when I first moved here with some older music, but you can’t compare live shows to any other feeling. It’s definitely a completely different experience. I wanna kind of flourish in that. Maybe talk with some people, maybe support some people on their tour which would be amazing. Just kind of built my fan base and I’m working on some new stuff that I hope to release towards the end of the year. And then onto the next project, just kind of flowing through it right now and still creating, you can never stop creating of course.
Ellie Parris EP Out of Sight is out now on Spotify and you can find her on Instagram @ellieparris.
Creative direction by @karlalizethe.photo
Photography by @hamgal_
Styling by @siennamayers
Makeup by @mariereitner