- Words Cleo Webster
Man of many genres, Bristol-born Ellis Aaron gives us an insight into his experimental musical mastery.
Independent singer, songwriter, spoken word poet, musician and producer Ellis Aaron is not just a man of many talents, but also a man of many genres. Surrounded by musical artists, singers and a vast variety of musical styles through his adolescent years, Ellis has had too many options when it comes to choosing his individual sound. Breaking the cliche of artists using only several musical genres to define them, Ellis has spent over seven years deeply experimenting with masses of genres, sounds and instruments to pave his path in the music industry. Drawing his melodically soulful lyrics from organic life experiences, Ellis doesn’t fail to convey his raw emotions in every song he creates.
We get the chance to sit down with the experimental wiz himself…
How do you differ your creative writing process for writing lyrics and writing spoken word?
Usually, whenever an idea arrives, I know whether I will create a song or a piece of spoken word around it, so this helps when I start writing. With spoken word, I like to be as free as possible, write whatever comes to mind and not worry too much about being concise, to begin with. The flow, mood and overall delivery of the piece, have a big influence on the process. For me, the emphasis is on creativity and wordplay and I always aim to display my interpretation and my style.
In terms of song lyrics, I tend to either have the idea for the instrumental, or have produced it before writing, which in a way, limits the freedom, as you are writing to fit certain parts of the track. Obviously there is a melody to think about and I focus more on the flow of the lyrics within a song than in a spoken word piece. In some ways, there is a similarity to how I write spoken word, in that I write with a certain mood in mind, try to be open-minded and let my style come through.
Of course, sometimes you read over what you’ve written and change your mind, but I find it important to get the general ideas down first (usually as notes on my phone) and worry about the rest later.
Why did you choose to follow the path of being an Independent music artist rather than signing to a label?
At the time of releasing my first music project, I was an unknown artist who was keen to drop the project. The easiest way of doing that, was to do it as an independent artist. Since then, I’ve continued in the same way because it is how I started. Of course, it is difficult but there have been good moments and through being independent, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and the way things work within music.
Having most of your life surrounded by musical artists and singers, is there any memories or learning points you recall from their experiences that shaped your experience as a singer-songwriter today?
Being around singers and musicians while growing up has definitely had an influence on me and my music. I’ve heard various stories and been shown how not to do things, which has helped me massively in some situations. Whether it’s making music, collaborating with others or just being an independent artist, I’ve received some great advice and I’m really grateful. Obviously, you are going to make mistakes and have to learn for yourself sometimes, but having that knowledge from others definitely helps with the process.
What life experience influenced your first ever EP ‘Focus’ and how did the genres of funk, soul, hip hop and house illustrate that experience for you?
The general idea behind the ‘Focus’ EP, came from my experience of always wanting to pursue music, but never feeling ready. When I was finishing my A-levels, a career in music was always on my mind, but I never felt like I was prepared to fully go after it. Even while I was at university, I was making music in my spare time but never had the courage to release any material. It wasn’t until a few years after graduating that I decided to stop waiting and the EP is really a reflection of that experience. It was of particular inspiration for the first track, ‘Now’s the Time’.
All of the tracks were inspired by personal experiences and when it came to genres, I wanted a mix of them for the project. Soul, funk and house were particular genres that I selected because I felt that they suited what the songs were about overall. For example, the third track, ‘Soul is Home’, is an uplifting track about finding your zone within life, so I felt that an up-tempo, house feel was best. During the time that I was waiting to pursue music, I was listening to lots of different styles, including house and experimenting with them in my own compositions. So in a way, the use of those different genres further illustrates the experience that I had.
Being a multi-genre artist is there any particular genre direction you are heading towards in your upcoming EP?
For my next EP, I plan to keep it within the realms of soul, with influences from some other genres.
Looking up to the Black Eyed Peas as a daily source of inspiration, especially in their album “Behind The Front”, in what ways has their work influenced the style and development of your work?
I wouldn’t say that they are a daily source of inspiration, but I’m definitely a fan of The Black Eyed Peas. I’m a hip hop fan and they’ve released some great music over the years.
As someone who likes different types of music, I like how they’ve used elements from different genres within some of their tracks, whether through sampling or original composition. Their first few albums were particularly inspiring for me, because of the sense of freedom in the lyricism and their style. The way they’ve blended acoustic and electronic instrumentation is also an inspiration.
I have many influences, but I try to make sure that my music is a reflection of me and my interpretation.
How do you handle experimenting with a wide variety of genres and do you ever get confused when developing a new sound?
I love experimenting with music. Combining characteristics from different genres, to create different sounds helps to keep things interesting and allows you to be creative. I like to listen to a variety of music because it not only helps me to understand and appreciate the various genres, but it helps me to keep an open mind as an artist, especially when producing my own instrumentals.
If you could listen to any album for the rest of your life that is not your own, who’s album would you choose and why?
It would probably be Stevie Wonder’s ‘Songs in the Key of Life’. It’s one of my favourite of his albums and it’s just great to listen to, with brilliant vocals and production.
How do you want your personal sound and lyricism to touch your listeners?
My aim with music is to share my interpretation of it, my experiences and hopefully, either uplift or inspire someone. Music is a great tool for expression and I wish for my way of expression to be enjoyed by listeners. I prefer to write lyrics that are quite deep, so that the songs are as powerful as they can be. I hope that my music resonates with listeners in some way and I want them to find as much (or more) delight in the music, as I do creating it.