Posted On 27 Feb 2017
On November 18th, the London born songstress, Ella Mai, released her EP, “CHANGE.” Executive produced in its entirety by West Coast hip-hop phenom, DJ Mustard, the project is a heartfelt throwback to ’90s R&B. “I’m a big fan of music from that era,” admits the half Jamaican-half Irish beauty, now officially signed to Mustard’s 10 Summers label.
More recently, this past Friday, Ella released her EP, “READY”, which is her third DJ Mustard-produced EP released in the span of a year.
Ella Mai recently set out on Kehlani’s Sweet Sexy Savage Tour.
Learn more about Ella Mai in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that 2016 is over, what are some words you would use to describe the year? What have been some of the highlights for you and your music? What are you most excited about for 2017? Did you make any resolutions for the new year?
I can describe 2016 using so many different words because it honestly was an amazing year for me. If I had to pick a few I’d say, exciting, new, and preparatory. In 2016, I announced my signing with 10 Summers, released 2 EP’s, 2 videos, moved to LA and had my first headline show sell out in London. I know 2017 is going to be a very exciting year for me and I am most excited to go on tour with Kehlani. It doesn’t really get much better than doing what you love while travelling the world. My new years resolution, which is the same every year, is to just continue to learn and grow.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Do you think that this has been your calling in life?
I have always wanted to be a musician, yes. I have been performing since I was young and I always knew if I put enough time into it, I could do it. My earliest musical memory is actually from church. My grandma is a Minister so I used to go with her every Sunday and sing my heart out. I would also perform in my school plays. I attended performing arts school for some time and my mum always had music on in the house or in the car. It’s just something I have always been around.
I had the pleasure of attending your listening party in November. The Jamaican food was amazing at it! You mentioned at the event that meeting DJ Mustard was really what started it all for you and your career. Can you elaborate about that meeting?
Thank you for coming and I’m glad you enjoyed the food! I hadn’t had it since I moved to LA so I was so happy to finally have some. I met DJ Mustard in New York September of 2015 (He had previously in-boxed me on Instagram asking what my situation was and that he was interested in working me.) He called me that day and told me he was going to drive from Philadelphia to New York for a session and sent me the details. I honestly was taken back, but I knew opportunities like this didn’t come around every day, so I was extremely excited. I remember waiting in the studio for him to arrive and just not really knowing what to expect. We made 3 songs that night and everything just flowed so perfectly it was almost scary. Musically, it just felt right! From there, I flew out to LA to work on some more stuff with him and now, a year later, we’re here.
Why do you think you and DJ Mustard work so well together? Did you know instantly that he shared your creative vision?
I am huge on vibes and going with my gut instinct. I had been in situations prior that just didn’t feel right but when I met Mustard, I knew right away, and I think he did too. After we finished the first song that night in New York and we had a gage of how we worked together, we knew we could take it further. He was interested to know what I wanted for myself and where I see myself fitting into the industry as well as telling me he was looking to sign someone etc.
What is it like to be first official release on the 10 Summers and Interscope label partnership?
It is a great feeling. Both of my teams are extremely supportive, helpful, and believe in me as much as I believe in myself.
What is it about 90’s R&B that inspires you and your music?
I’m a 90’s baby, so 90’s R&B is something I remember growing up around. 90’s R&B is so smooth but so too the point, and generally just feel good music.
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you and your music? Who would you still love to work with in the future?
I have a lot of favorite artists but the ones who have had the biggest impact on the music I make are Lauryn Hill and Chris Brown. My mum always played Lauryn Hill when I was young and I have been listening to Chris Brown since I was 11. I haven’t worked with very many artist so there are still a lot of people I’d love to work with from all different genres. One of my dreams is to work with Stevie Wonder.
I’d love to know more about the message you hope to send to young girls through your music? What do you hope everyone takes away from your music?
Music is very personal and hits different people in different ways. The general message I hope people get from my music is just knowing who you are as an individual and embracing it, knowing what you have to offer and using it the best way you possibly can. I think one of the hardest things about growing up is finding your true self and being completely comfortable with it. I make music because it’s a form of self-expression and it makes me feel good. I hope that when people listen to my music they feel the same way I felt when I was recording it.
When you aren’t performing, working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you unwind from it all?
I get to do what I love for a living, which is pretty fun to me to be honest. I love to be in the studio. On off days, I like to be at home and relax, but even then I am listening to music or writing.
How do you think living in LA has affected your music and really you as a musician?
LA is extremely different from London, so I am still adapting. Being here has opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn’t see at home and put me in situations that I hadn’t yet experienced. Those situations have helped the music majorly because it is all about experience. Also, I feel like the majority of artists are here, so it is productive to be here. You connect with so many different people who come from completely different worlds but share the same passion.