An Interview With Singer-Songwriter, ROBERT ELLIS On How Latest Fourth Album, Biggest Inspirations and More!
Posted On 13 Jul 2016
Robert Ellis released his eponymous fourth album on June 3rd via New West Records. The 11-song, self-titled set is his most personal statement yet and a summation of his career thus far.
In the album, Robert Ellis opens with “Perfect Strangers,” a meditation on what brings people together (and how tenuous that connection can be), and ends with “It’s Not Ok,” a raw look at emotional compromise. Between those two powerful bookends are nine other songs that show Ellis’ full command of a vibrant set of songwriting skills – irony, distance, character, narrative, a thoughtful relationship between sound and sense. Included is the first single, the dynamic “How I Love You,” the pop pleasure of “California,” the bossa nova shuffle and melodic 70s soft rock of “Amanda Jane,” the emotional center of the record, “The High Road,” and the breathtaking and epic “You’re Not The One;” all presenting multiple sides of Ellis’ control and talent.
Ellis states, “I felt that in the past year, lots of constructs I took for granted were turned on their head.” He continued, “With this record, I feel like I’ve gotten to where I can use the material of my own life as a jumping-off point. But now I can do different things with that material.” Many of the songs have an element of melancholy as some of the record revolves around the dissolution of Ellis’ marriage (the pair remain friends) but also hope and happiness play an equal role. It’s an album of owning mistakes, self-discovery, and accepting hard truths. It’s also an album that finds Ellis reaching into the trick bags of masters like Paul Simon, John Prine, and Randy Newman, all artists that have been consistent risk takers, and employing the full complement of skills that he has learned from studying their songcraft. This respect for tradition and risk taking fuel Ellis’ new record and in the end, Robert Ellis, the album, is the most accurate reflection of Robert Ellis, the man. It’s analytical and emotional, calculated in spots and improvisational in others, restless, peaceful, never indifferent, never dispassionate.
Learn more about Robert Ellis in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! How’s 2016 been treating you so far? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you and your music?
I have had a good year so far. I’ve been very busy for quite some time now. I enjoyed getting to go back into the studio and make a record. It’s nice to be in one place for a month.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was your family supportive of you?
Music has been a part of my life since I was born. My mother plays piano and was very supportive of me in anything I’ve been interested in. I remember her playing Debussy when I was very young.
Next month, you will release your new record via New West. Can you talk about putting it together? How long was that process? What was it like self-producing it?
Top to bottom it took a month. We did it in Houston. I love producing, whether it’s my own record or for other people. It’s a lot of creative problem solving. The most important thing I’ve found is that you need to put tasteful nude photographs, male and female all over the studio to keep everyone inspired.
You’ll soon head out on tour to support the record. Are you looking forward to that? What are some venues that you are particularly excited to play at?
I’m sort of looking forward to it and also not. The idea of leaving for a couple months at a time isn’t exactly calming. Much of touring life isn’t very good. I enjoy the hour and a half we get on stage more than anything in the world. The rest of the time I either have anxiety or I’m super bored. I don’t know what “Venue” I’m looking forward to. I want to play at the Acropolis, with Yanni.
Who are some of your favorite artists? What musicians have continued to inspire you year after year? Who would you love to work with in the future?
Magritte, Twombly, Erykah Badu, Rufus Wainwright, Kate Bush, jazz. I like a whole lot of things. Follow me on Spotify. Having an album arranged by Van Dyke Parks is a dream of mine as well as playing at the insane clown posse’s gathering of the Juggalos.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
I don’t think I have “A message”. I really don’t care much for music with an agenda. I just want people to relate and feel something. Maybe make life slightly better for just a moment.