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Interview: Lindsay Ell talks touring with Chris Young, new music and her UK fans

Lindsay Ell is back in the UK this week to tour with Chris Young on the UK leg of his Losing Sleep World Tour.

No stranger to the UK, Ell has been steadily building her fanbase here and has made touring on this side of the pond a priority. Ell is currently shooting up the charts with What Happens in a Small Town, a song she recorded with Brantley Gilbert.

I caught up with Lindsay at the BMG offices on Friday to talk about touring with Chris Young, discuss her plans for new music, and to find out about the many collaborations she’s recorded over the past few months.

You’re back in the UK for the Chris Young tour. What can we look forward to on this tour?

I’m so happy to be back in the UK and to play some shows. I have always looked up to Chris. I feel like he’s one of the best guy singers in the format. He’s just such a good vocalist and I think it’s going to be really fun to play some shows together. I’ve been back and have done a bunch of headlining little club shows, which have been so fun. It’s been so amazing and so incredible to be able to sell out these little clubs but to be able to play some of these beautiful big venues with Chris, I’m so excited about. I’m gonna be playing some new music, as far as my setlist. We have full band, which my last few tours over we necessarily haven’t had a full band so it’s going to be really exciting.

Where are you at in terms of new music? You mentioned you’ll be debuting some on this tour. Are you working up to a new album or a new EP?

We’re actually just talking about that right now. I’ve been writing a lot. It’s crazy that The Project has been out for almost two years at this point and a lot has gone on in my personal life and my career. I feel like I have about 75 percent of the next record written already. I’ve written so many songs so maybe the last 25 is in there too or maybe I’ll write it in the next couple weeks. It’s almost done. We’re just trying to figure out when we can get that new music recorded and out to everybody. I will be hopping in the studio in a couple weeks to start recording and I’m just so excited about it. I feel like I’m gonna be able to let fans into the story of what I’ve been through… being single and really becoming into who I am.

I just turned 30, as crazy as that is to say, and I feel like at that point in your life especially because I am single right now, it forces you to really answer some of those questions of like who you are and what you want in life, which are big questions to answer and hard sometimes to really figure out. I just think because of those two things colliding at the same time I’ve been able to go through a lot of soul searching. Writing is so therapeutic in a way, it really helps you get through so many things, just as I’m sure a lot of fans can identify music helps them get through things in life. Whenever they’re feeling a certain way you fall in love with certain songs that represent different times of your life, I know I do. I really hope that the fans can hear that by listening to this next record and they can get therapy through some of these songs. They’ve definitely been that for me.

Being at this point in my life where I’m like, ‘OK I know who I am now’. It doesn’t matter as much what people think about it. This is me love it or hate it. This is how I come and there is such a freedom in feeling that way, and an anxiety and a fear that comes from that too (laughs) because it’s like, ‘well people will either like it or they won’t!’ I’m super proud of these songs and I’m so excited to finally get them out there.

The thing is you set such a high bar with The Project. My favourite song changes so often and I can relate to most of them. Does that make the anxiety and pressure worse?

That makes me so happy to hear you say that. Thank you. Yeah, I am scared releasing this next album because I feel like it doe need to live up. I feel like the second album has such a weight for a lot of artists. The first album you have so long to craft this beautiful thing that’s sort of the first portrait that people see of you and then the second record you need to do in like a year. A lot of artists tour so hard for the first point after the first album that then you’re like, ‘OK I need to make another record’ and your wheels start spinning and you start making this this next record. I’m super scared and nervous. I want fans to love it and I want to live up to their expectations of what the second record will be but at the same point I’m trying to brace that with my own vulnerability and my own grace towards just, ‘this is who I am and this is me and these are the songs that have gotten me through the past year and a half’. I hope that they will, and you will be able to, listen to them and be like, ‘got it. That’s cool!’

Lindsay Ell
Credit: BMG

You’ve been popping up all over the place recently working with Brantley Gilbert, Keith Urban and Cassadee Pope on tracks. How do you fit it all in?

I love being able to collaborate with my friends and with artists that I look up to. The Keith thing was just such a cool experience because I’ve been listening to Keith Urban ever since I was a little girl and being able to tour with him was a huge bucket list moment. Having Keith call me one day and be like, ‘Lindsay I’d love for you to sing and be a part of the song and play on my record on the song called Horses’ and I was like, ‘what? yes! yes, I would love to do that Keith. That would be amazing’. That was just such a cool moment. Of course Cass is one of my best friends in town and so when she asked me to sing on her record I was like, ‘whatever you want. Yes I would love to’.

The Brantley thing… sometimes my favourite collaborations are from artists that you would never expect to put together. When you see awards shows like the Grammys do it sometimes in live performances and they take some artists from over here and some artists from way over here and they bring them together and put them on the same stage, magic happens. It’s kind of like Brantley and I. When you think of Brantley Gilbert and me, we’re kind of the last two people that you think would be put together just because Brantley is so like rough and gruff and has this rock side of him. I think that’s what makes it so cool and so unique. I always say I’m ruining Brantley’s image because really when you get to know him he is the most down to earth. He’s like a teddy bear. He’s so kind and so generous and so sweet and really funny, and so getting to know him and his band and his wonderful wife and son… they’re expecting another baby on the way too.

It’s just been wonderful getting to know Brantley more and be a part of his world. We’re touring together later this year, which I’m really excited about as well, but being a part of this song has just been a wonderful experience. It’s been quite a busy year between recording with Keith and Cassadee and Brantley, and then preparing for my own record. Pretty much any time I have downtime in Nashville I’m working, usually either recording with somebody else or recording towards my own project. I never really hit the stop button.

When you say ‘downtime’, what you really mean is time to work more…

(laughs) I love what I do so much that it doesn’t feel like work. Whenever I have downtime it seems like, ‘OK well I’ll go write or I’ll go play guitar on this thing or I’ll go do this’ and it just it feels like a different iteration of work.

Your fanbase here in the UK is really growing. I’m not sure if you’re aware but fans were expecting you to pop up either at Keith’s Kentish Forum show or during C2C…

I know! I really wanted to because we were part of the C2C shows in Berlin and Amsterdam and then we had to be in Australia for a festival so physically we had to fly there and get there in time. I love all of my UK fans so much. I talk about them in interviews wherever I am all over the world because I really feel like UK fans are so unique. They’re so passionate about the music that they love and the shows they love to go and see. It’s unlike anything that I see anywhere else in the world and I will go on record and say that, because they’re just so wonderful. I have felt that they grow every time I come here and it’s why honestly when we sit and talk in meetings with my team I’m like, ‘OK when are we getting back to the UK?’ I want to come here all the time. I just get so much joy from it. I feel like my musical heart is full whenever I leave here. I’m really excited to be able to play a few shows with Chris. It’s been so cool being able to headline some of my own shows and play a bunch of clubs, and I think it’ll be really cool to be able to play these incredible beautiful venues that we’re playing with Chris and to get to meet some of his fans. I think it’ll be a whole new experience altogether.

Surely this is a stepping stone to a bigger headline show for yourself in the future? Do you have plans for that at the moment?

Yes! We’re going to see how this goes and we’re gonna see how the new music goes. We’re figuring out schedule wise on when this new music is going to come out but for sure I will planning things around the next album and promo stuff around that as well as coming over here and letting maybe some select fans hear sneak peeks of the album. I love being able to do fan events. We have our fan party every year in Nashville but I want to be able to do something over here and so I’m thinking around the next record that maybe I can plan a little fan party and come over to the U.K. and do that.

You know people are going to go mad when they read that in this article don’t you?

I know! I know! I know my manager at this point is probably like, ‘what are you doing?’ because they haven’t even heard me talk about this. I am so passionate about my U.K. fans that I feel that it’s really, really important to me. I will hop on a plane and I will fly over here to make that happen.

You need to buy a second home here at this point…

I honestly do! Pip that save me so much money. I love that. I think that’s a wonderful idea. A second home or maybe I should just get a boyfriend over here and then it would be an excuse to come back and forth all the time? (laughs) It would check two boxes.

You can find either of those while you’re here on the Chris tour…

That is so true. The next two weeks could be very busy (laughs).

Life changing…

Yes life changing completely. (laughs) We will be looking at real estate and looking at potential boyfriends. (laughs). My whole team is shaking their heads!

Do you have anything else planned that you’re going to squeeze in before Christmas?

I can’t believe it’s already May. The summer is upon us. We’re playing tons of festivals this year. I’m being able to tour with Brantley, which I’m really excited about. I think I may be able to squeeze a few things in in the fall potentially (laughs), whether that ends up being another little headlining run myself or there’s been talks of maybe doing some Christmas music and so maybe near the end of the year! Who knows? I mean it’s May at this point so the rest the year is still our oyster and knowing me I always find the last little bit of free time and fill it with something. So who knows?

It’s never too early to think about Christmas music!

Never too early to think about Christmas music. If you want to record a Christmas album, you pretty much need to start it in July. It’s sort of the rule they talk about and so who knows. We may do a few Christmas songs this year.

I was trying to convince Cassadee to do a Christmas album when I saw her last year…

Yes! She needs to! What did she say?

I think you should do something together…

Maybe we should. That’s a good idea.

Lindsay Ell’s album The Project is available now. She is currently on tour with Chris Young in the UK until Thursday 9th May 2019. Watch the video for Criminal below:

Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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