Interview: Lindsay Ell talks The Project, working with Kristian Bush, stories behind songs and more

Lindsay Ell has arrived in full force within the music industry and we are so glad. The UK embraced Lindsay Ell back in 2013 when she supported The Band Perry on their Pioneer tour. Lindsay took stage with just her guitar and wowed the audience with her wicked guitar skills, sweet – sounding vocals and infectious bubbly personality. Songs like Trippin’ On Us made a huge impact and that was it, Lindsay  had a forever home in the UK. Lindsay has been back to the UK a couple of times since then including the first ever Country Music Week in October last year and made her first C2C Festival appearance in March this year.

As mentioned above, Lindsay has arrived in the music industry in full force after many years of hard work. The Canadian beauty spent time concentrating on her craft and working hard alongside Kristian Bush (Sugarland) to find the right sound and direction for her and from that came her debut studio release The Project. The Project is released via Stony Creek Records and is produced by Kristian Bush. The album has received critical acclaim and was even named number one country album by Rolling Stone. Lindsay has found her feet and is here to stay.

We caught up with Lindsay during Country 2 Country Festival on the UK release day of her album The Project. Lindsay was so excited and so friendly and we had such a blast.

I hope you enjoy our chat!

Listen to The Project here

Purchase The Project here

Hello, Lindsay, how have you been?

It is so good to finally be at the C2C – and the Project finally came out in the UK today and I got to go to HMV in Oxford Street and buy it off the shelf – it has been a good day!

How does it feel to re-release your debut studio album in the UK?

Incredible. It feels half deja vous and half a whole other milestone. I am on the other side of the world and to get to walk in HMV and see the sticker on the CD in pounds is amazing; it makes the world feel like such a small place.

I love HMV – and you have them in Canada, right?

No, not anymore.

I am sure I went into one in Toronto.

Gosh, that’s right, Toronto does still have one; they are becoming such a unique thing now, the States don’t have them, but you’re right, Toronto does.

Tell us about your current single, Criminal.

So excited about Criminal. It is a song that I have had the longest of all the songs on The Project. It’s a love song, but Criminal is written unlike most other love songs, more the complete opposite perspective of what you would usually write a love song about. The video was shot in a prison and shows a darker side of me that I don’t get to show fans often – it’s dark and exciting.

Tell us what The Project means to you?

The Project has been such a process and amazing time in my life about me discovering my identity which is why I wanted to call the record The Project. It felt like a science project and working with Kristian Bush over the past year and a half has been great. Well, he is probably one of my favourite people; he is just so wonderful and has a heart of gold. I call him my studio Yoda; he has been the artist, he has been the songwriter, he has been the producer, he understands all aspects of the industry, so he was really the perfect producer to team up with me. He’s helped me click into gear and have everything make sense.

Recording the project was such an incredible experience in the fact that I feel like I know who I am now, and I feel like I know what I want to say and how I want to say it. The fact that fans have responded so wonderfully to the music and that Billboard named it as the Number One Country Record of 2017, shows that Kristian and I are headed in the right direction and that we are doing something right.

Which song did you have the most trouble writing?

Yeah, Criminal actually took a minute. It took a while figuring out how to produce it right and it wasn’t until I was in the studio with Kristian that we really brought it to life in the right way. Writing a song is one thing but producing a song is a whole different level. I feel like the lyrics are something I believe so much about and writing Castle, which is another really important song to me from the record, was difficult. Castle is about the fact that as a society, we can get so caught up in buying bigger houses, faster cars and cooler clothes but sometimes we lose sight of what’s important such as how we get to wake up and do what we love every day, and how we get to be surrounded by people who we love. It was such an important song to me on the record and I knew that it had to be right.

There are a few songs on the album you didn’t write; what made you want to record them?

So, recording outside songs is something completely out of my comfort zone but Kristian encouraged me to at least listen to them and to give them a chance, because we always say that best song wins whenever you’re recording an album. We listened to probably a thousand songs.

Oh, wow!

I know. Finding a song that I knew would fit on the album but didn’t write myself was hard but, because Kristian is so good at being a song detective, we were able to find a few little moments. Space is a particular song that is very close to me. It was written by Caitlin Smith, Heather Morgan and Maggie Chapman – all amazing female songwriters. As a singer, I was quite scared to record this song, because it is such a difficult one to sing and I felt like I couldn’t sing it. But Kristian is the one who sat me down and said “Lindsay, I know a lot of people look at you as a guitar player but I look at you first and foremost as a singer, and want you to start believing in that yourself.” It wasn’t until we recorded Space, when I finally got to see that, which kind of gave me more confidence as a singer. Recording a new album gave me extra confidence as a guitar player, too, so I feel a better artist by just making this record.

Another outside song is White Noise which is written by Kelsea Ballerini. An exciting part of that story is that it was her first outside cut, because she had never had another artist record one of her songs. When I heard it, I thought this song is so awesome and amazing and because I love what it says, it needed to be on the record. So, Kristian and I were in the studio one day and we called her, and she said ‘Absolutely, I would love for you to have it.’

What a way to champion female songwriters – by having your outside songs be written by female songwriters.

Absolutely, there are so many incredible female songwriters right now and I feel so honoured to be a part of that group. It’s good girl power time!

Let’s go back in time…touring here for the first time with The Band Perry, how was that tour?

It was crazy. It was the first world tour that I got to be a part of. I was wide-eyed and bushy- tailed; I thought everything was amazing. It was my first experience with fans from the UK and just how much they care about music – and I fell in love with them! They are unlike fans from any other country in the world; they are so passionate about what they are listening to and what they are hearing – and they listen to full albums, so when they come to your show, they know all the words. It’s amazing.

I love Trippin’ On Us – do you still play it at shows?

Oh, yes – that is so awesome, thank you. For sure in longer sets we do play it, haha.

Do you get to go back to Canada often?

I do – for shows a lot – which has been great, so I do get to go back quite often.

You are planning a guitar jam, anyone you want, dead or alive, who is invited?

Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Jimi created his own style, he started so many different techniques. Eric Clapton – I grew up listening to Cream records and the style that he has forged. To play with them both would have been crazy.

What is your go to karaoke song?

If I had to choose a go to Karaoke song it would probably be Shania Twain, Any Man Of Mine or No One Needs To Know, haha!

Well, it’s been lovely to chat to you and we wish you every success with The Project. ’Bye for now.

It’s been my pleasure, Hannah, thanks.

 

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