Who are you and how long have you been active?
Ellen M. Wilson. I’ve been performing professionally for more than 30 years…it all started with a rock band in high school while I was also studying classical music.
What trends will be big in the next year?
I wouldn’t bank on my opinion, but increased diversity that will be harder to categorize, and more independent artists moving to the forefront, thanks to the many digital means for promoting their music as well as the ability to create a higher-end product that is more competitive.
How does a track move from initial thought to finished effort?
For me, the songwriting and recording journey reflects a collaborative effort. I write down lots of ideas, often as prose, rarely as poetry at first. Once I did have an early-morning idea that came as a complete song, words and music, but that is rare for me (that is a song we are putting on the next album). When T. L. (T.L. Brown, my producer and songwriting partner) and I write a song together, one of us will have an initial idea of what we want the song to be about. Sometimes I am the one to have the musical idea first; sometimes T. L. does. We bat around ideas at first, then sit down to more formally construct a song. Once we sit down to write the song, it gets done pretty quickly, since I usually will not stop until the song is done. T.L. then goes into his studio lair and arranges the song so we have a map for the musicians to follow in the studio. Next he coaches my vocal performance of the song, telling me how he envisions me singing it. Sometimes that can be tough, because I may have had the original idea and then I have to essentially re-learn my own song! But he is always right; the song is always on another level completely by the time we finish the recording. He understands my voice incredibly well and he gets me to do all kinds of new vocal stylizations. Invariably, the finished product is often one I might not have anticipated, which is absolutely magical. What more could a performer and songwriter want?
How has your style evolved and changed over the time since you first started? Where do you think that your overall sound will go to in the months and years in the future?
First, I have to clarify that, although I was writing songs in high school and college, my focus was on classical music studies and professional musical theater and other kinds of performance after college for a long time. I only started writing songs again in the last few years, but I’ve been absorbing different musical styles as well as writing prosaically for various jobs all these years. I’ve also been journaling for years, and all the influences and ideas are coming out in the songs. I don’t like to anticipate where my writing will go-that would only limit what might suddenly inspire me. I’m continually being touched by new things all the time, but I’m also reaching into the past, pulling from my greatest influences, such as my fascination with the music of the psychedelic 60s, which you will hear in a couple of songs on the next album, although the songs will have been “TLified”, my term for the magical way that TL arranges songs I’ve brought to him. Also, for this next project, T.L. and I will continue to explore symphonic styles, electronic sounds, world components, pure rock elements, and as many other stylistically diverse ways to express our lyric ideas as possible.
On any Youtube video, there are countless genres thrown around for any song. How does that help or hurt music and musicians, and what genre(s) would your music fall into?
We decided to label the music Adult Contemporary, although some songs lean toward soft rock, some toward pop. The countless genres being thrown around reflect every musician jumping into the marketplace and having to label his/her own music. It’s a challenge. Labels are part of the marketing aspect, to direct listeners or rather, to aim the music at a particular demographic. It’s necessary for marketing purposes, but really, it’s a false label. Think of some of your favorite bands – they are hard to categorize or you may have your own way of describing the sound that your best friend would completely contradict – and that’s fantastic, that is creative.
How do you feel things are different musically and culturally between parts of the United States and the rest of the world?
Since I spend time in academia as well as the popular music scene, this is a particularly interesting question to me. The world is getting smaller, for sure, and popular music is growing around the world. Thanks to the Internet, there is more give and take between artists around the world, with more collaborations taking place between artists of different countries. I have connected with artists from South American countries, for example, and discussed potential joint projects, which is so much easier to do these days without even traveling.
Musicians usually talk about a dream concert, or those earlier acts they would like to play with. What would be your dream lineup?
Seriously, my dream concert would involve having Sir George Martin arrange my songs for chorus and orchestra, then conduct the orchestra and chorus in a live performance.
What role does alcohol and other recreational drugs play in regards to music?
For me? None. I have a ten-year old. Really. Besides, I’m far crazier sober…
What does the rest of 2012 hold for you, and how can readers connect with you and your music?
Continuing to perform at new venues and introducing the music to new listeners is the focus for the rest of this year, as well as starting songwriting for the next album. I recently sat down with a philanthropist friend to discuss possible collaborations with area non-profits, and we discussed creating a new model for the way I perform my music. We will be developing this idea further in the coming year, so stay tuned… Non-profits or volunteer organizations that wish to host a concert should send a request through the ellenmwilson.com website contact form.
Joining my email list through my Website and liking my Facebook page are two easy ways to connect. Love to hear from our listeners…
Any other thoughts for NeuFutur readers?
Well, in this age of single downloads over an entire album, this recording was created to be enjoyed from start to finish. Take a listen and then tell me on my Facebook page what you think? Do you like the entire album? Are there certain songs you connect with? I’m also fascinated by the idea of seeking points of connection between ourselves and others, especially those with whom we think we have nothing in common. The more we see what we share with others, without needing to be the same, the closer we just might get to finding solutions to our world problems that will benefit everyone.
How can people contact you?
My website, www.ellenmwilson.com is a great place to start. From there, you can get to the Ellen M. Wilson Facebook page, Reverbnation, Youtube, etc. and connect to me and T.L., as well as to other people who like the music.