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GOING SOLO WITH ELLA THOMPSON

Photography by Annelise Hickey

Tell us about the writing and recording process of your debut solo album Janus. Is there anything you would do differently/the same next time?
I had just got back from a three month trip overseas and only had a 13 inch mini midi keyboard, Omnichord and laptop with me the whole time. When I got home I was itching to write some music in a space with enough room to swing a cat in, you know? Some of the music I had been sitting on in some unfinished form for a while and other pieces I wrote quickly. Many of the songs were informed by the sound first; I wanted to see if I could be a ‘producer’ and how that would influence my work differently. I wanted to challenge myself to be totally self sufficient, forcing myself to finish ideas from start to finish. Of course you need help at some point — I am no expert on mixing, mastering and playing the drums and guitar but I wanted to push myself to that point. I worked with John Castle to finish the album. Next time I want to write an album from the writing side first, maybe something minimal musically and more dense lyrically. I am also interested in creating a work that is multi sensory, but I need to flesh out some more ideas.

Who are your biggest musical influences and what do they do/did that impresses you specifically?
I love live performance and artists that make records where you can hear their energy. Everyone from Aretha Franklin to St Vincent — they give everything, yet you are still left with the feeling that they have a lifetime of energy and ideas to give.

You left Melbourne funk band The Bamboos last year for a solo career. How difficult was it to venture out as your own solo act?
Yes I left The Bamboos a year ago. I had so many great experiences playing with that band so yes it was difficult to leave some of that, but I needed to force myself to be self sufficient.

What’s the best advice you can give to musicians wanting to break out on their own?
You are not an island — be a part of your community.

You’re launching Janus at Shebeen in Melbourne on July 31. Tell us a little about your live set- up and equipment.
I play keyboards and I have two great friends playing with me: James Gilligan who plays guitar, Moog Taurus and synths and Leigh Fisher who plays drums and samples. I am lucky to have people that can create such full sounds with their instruments.

www.facebook.com/EllaThompsonMusic

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