I’ve watched some Dallas and Nashville in my time but nothing could prepare me for an interview with Lindsay Ell. Picture this, its 6pm Irish time, it’s been a long day and I still have a phone interview to do. It’s noon Nashville time with Lindsay calls me and she’s chipper, positively bubbling over with sunshine on the phone, “Oh hi Maggie!!”, and no word of a lie, no condensation intended I’m beaming for the next half hour.
It’s this good humour and genteelness (partly from a growing up in Calgary, Canada, partly from living in Nashville, Tennessee) that has garnered Lindsay Ell a following in the States. And she’s coming to conquer Europe now too. “Sorry if I’m talking too fast”, she gushes. “I’m Irish our pace of speech is about 50 miles an hour anyway”. “That is so true”, she replies. Still upbeat as my brain scrambles to get the wheels turning to keep up with her.
“Is this your first time coming to Ireland?” “No, we finished our tour with The Band Perry in Dublin last year after 20 shows, 8 countries in 30 days. But the Irish have a dedication and passion for music. All music. They didn’t know who I was but they were listening so intently that by the second verse they were singing along. I wanted to come back and start the tour in Dublin to get a sense of that energy and passion for life.”
At this minute Lindsay is writing new material to go on her new EP and her first full length album due later this year. And she has a great incentive at the moment. Nashville is under ice and she has to stay indoors and write. “I’m from Canada so I’m used to this kind of snow and ice. But Nashville is not. The grocery stores are all out of bread”, she explains. I ask her what kind of music she is writing and what does she want it to say. “I guess, I want to be a role model for females. Be a voice for what we go through from high school, to college and then into our 20’s. I’m 25 now and I feel like I have something to say about all of those stages of life. To be able to talk about how it honed me into being a woman and the qualities that bring you into being a woman.”
It would be easy to make a Taylor Swift comparison but where Swift seems too in control, Ell on the other hand seems so completely happy to be here, doing what she’s doing. But don’t take the cheerfulness and charm on their own. There are many sides to her. Lindsay plays an electric 6 string guitar as her instrument of choice during performances and on her records. “Does playing an electric guitar influence your song writing?” “After playing it for 8 years it is like a limb but I started off on piano as a kid and then guitar. So when I start writing it’s about finding myself and it’s not the focal point. It’s only when we get into post production that it comes into lead. There is an evolution in the writing and in yourself during the different stages of that process as you try to connect with people. It’s a journey as you experiment with what you want to say and try to communicate in a different way.”
How did a country music loving girl from Calgary, Canada end up playing lead guitar in Nashville? Discovered in her early teens she has played and worked with Randy Bachman and Lenny Breau. She counts guitar legends Hendrix, Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan as her role models, as influences, her “trifector” she calls them. “They helped me find my musical voice.” And what does Nashville mean to her? “I’ve planted my flag in Nashville. It’s home now. It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by like-minded people who work in this business, whether they are musicians, PR, or producers. People you get to collaborate with. My first time off the plane I knew it was home. My family still live in Canada and they come down for holidays. It’s hard but I’m here to work. Which is easy when you love what you do.”
Lindsay Ell plays The Workman’s Club February 25th.
You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @lindsayell