Ella Sweeney: A Surf Coast Gem

Emerging from Victoria’s surf coast, Ella Sweeney may not have a name for herself yet but with her captivating voice and smooth guitar stylings she is definitely an artist to watch. Having closed the main stage at RMIT’s recent CelebreateRMIT event this local gem has also performed at a handful of local spots including Quiksilver Bar 61, The Torquay Hotel, Frontbeach Cafe, The Barwon Club and Kubu Studios. I was able to sit down with Ella after her gig at RMIT and ask her a couple of question about what inspires her music and where she see her career progressing in the future.

What genre do you consider your work to be ?

I guess at the moment it best fits into the folk genre, but genres are a tricky thing really. So many contemporary musicians are pushing boundaries and taking elements of many different styles of music; it’s getting harder to class a person’s music as one singular, definite genre.

How many instruments do you play?

I just play guitar, but really wish I could play piano. I think that’ll be my New Years resolution — to learn piano.

Which musicians do you admire? Why?

In regards to solo musicians, I really look up to Maggie Rogers. She’s a young artist from New York whose music is a fusion of mellow dance and folk. I saw her at the Forum a month or two ago and it was seriously magic. Gang of Youths are another band that I admire at the moment, their newest album is sensational. It’s cool to see Aussie bands producing great stuff.

Which song or record has inspired you the most?

Julia Jacklin’s ‘Don’t let the kids win’ is a record which has inspired me through its lyrical depth and dreamy guitar stylings. The simplicity of her work is something that I admire and try to emulate in my own songs.

Do you write your own music/melodies?

I do. I’ve only written about 6 songs and they’re not great, but I’m excited to progress.

Where do you get your inspiration for your songs from?

I’m not even sure, just things that are going on in my life, old thoughts, random thoughts, certain environments, all that jazz. I think a lot, so I’m never short of inspiration.

What are your fondest musical memories?

Car trips with my family as a kid. We’d listen to all my parent’s favourites — New Order, Electric Light Orchestra, Dire Straits and others.

How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

I only started doing gigs at the beginning of this year, so there have been plenty of mistakes. I’m slowly learning how to remain confident and to just focus on myself and the music I’m playing, rather than mistakes and the audience’s opinions.

Do you prefer playing solo or would you like to eventually play with a band (if you aren’t already?)

I do enjoy playing solo depending on the venue. If I have creative control and can play the songs I want to play, then I’m more than happy to play solo. But I play in a duo with my good friend Macka Heard, who is super talented. I really enjoy that, we always have a laugh and bounce ideas off each other. We recently started playing as a band with drummer Callen Whiteside and bass player Tommy Lyons, which has been really fun. We’ve only played a couple of gigs together but we really enjoyed it.

How do you balance your music with other obligations?

To be honest I’m struggling at the moment. I’m playing gigs every two weeks but I’m not putting as much effort in as I’d like to be. Hopefully when uni is over for the year I’ll have lots more time to focus on music and improve.

What are your aspirations for your time in this course and then beyond?

I hope to really progress as a musician and gain skills in recording, production and management. This course offers so many great opportunities and I hope to make the most of those.

How do you feel about the internet in the music business?

As much as the technological revolution can be daunting and overwhelming, I feel that the internet has really helped modern artists to gain attention and followers. Social media is the perfect way to advertise your art.

Has and if so how has your music evolved since you first began playing?

I think so, yes. It’s still evolving, I’m still trying to progress from week to week. I’m just soaking in any knowledge I can and really enjoying learning from other musicians

How can people gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?

I haven’t yet officially released anything publicly, I’m still working on that. But that’s certainly my next goal. I’m just a bit of a perfectionist, I’ll only release something when I’m 100% happy with it, which could take time but I look forward to that.

Do you have any upcoming shows?

I’ve just got some small gigs coming up, I’m playing at the OceanGrind night markets on the 27th of October and at Quiksilver Bar 61 on November 24th.

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