NELLA – Ireland’s Ellie Goulding in the making
Our editor-in-chief managed to get a hold of one of Ireland’s most promising singer songwriters, Nella. With a smooth and velvet-like voice, her music is passionate and well defined taking the listener on a melodic journey to the core essence of what makes the music so emotive, so captivating.
So, tell us a little about your music Nella.
I’m a singer songwriter from Cork. I moved to Dublin part time nearly 5 years ago; half of my time in Cork and half in Dublin. Last year I released my EP, Revolution, which went to #1 on pre-order and on the iTunes charts. I was in LA in December which was an incredible trip. I met Quincy Jones, Diane Warren and stayed and wrote music in Skywalker Ranch in San Francisco with Emmy winning composer Russell Brower. It has been a really busy year thankfully!
How, when and why did you start singing?
I’ve always sang. I’ve always, always sang. Even as a kid my dad with the camcorder would record me when I was about 3 years old singing twinkle-twinkle little star at my grandmother’s house. And in primary school I would always sing in the school plays. I also used to play a little piano, well tried to play; there’s a piano at home. Yeah so I just started to study it in school and I started doing things like open mic nights when I was a teenager. And then I started gigging when I was 17 in Cork. Then I went to college in Cork to study music. Well,I went straight to Business Studies but I dropped out of that because I was busy gigging. It was just before the recession hit and we were very busy gigging with another band. It was original music. So yeah, then I went to study in Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa, People like Mick Flannery went there! So that was an amazing course. We studied performance, songwriting, sound engineering, instruments and music law. It was incredible experience, and it was an incredible course. So I did that and then I studied music in UCC. Then I gigged a lot around Cork and before I decided to go to Dublin; I studied in Ballyfermot College, another well known music college in Ireland. I studied there for a few months and then I started gigging in Dublin. Yeah I just met lots of different people. I met a producer and we started working together. So in August 2014 I met producer Greg Malocca and then we started recording. So that brought me up to releasing the EP and then last year, April 2015. So that has been pretty cool.
Your genre; do you compose only your music, the lyrics or both?
I always wrote my own music and my own songs and wrote my music with lyrics. And then when I met my producer he had a really good way of writing. Sometimes I would bring a finished song to him and he would just edit it a little bit, you know we’d just kind of change the chords just a little bit or else we’d come up with ideas in his studio. Two songs on my EP, Beautiful and I Want to Know were songs I brought to him. I gigged with Beautiful which used to called another song. I used to call it All about You. So they were just different chords and we would tweak the verses so it was a finished song until we changed the chords and tweaked a few things but it’s a much better song now, it makes much more sense to me personally now. And I Wanna Know was the same. I came to him with the verses and we worked on it together from there. With Revolution he started playing a riff and I was like “oh I like that” and I started singing the melody. He said “what do you want to write about it. Is there anything going on with you” you know, and I said “Well actually I was writing this last week” and he says something “Oh I need to get out” and yeah…it’s different. The style is I suppose alternative pop with a bit of folk and soul in it I think. I think my voice people say there’s a lot of soul in it. I haven’t thought of it much but I know I have an emotional voice, people always say when they listen to my voice they say it’s quite emotive. Some people say you have to be pigeon-holed by genre, I don’t think so. Not these days. I mean, Revolution has a great beat, it’s Drum n Bass, the chords are Drum and Bass, it’s not like I went out to be a Drum n Bass artist, it’s just what suited at the time. Music is music so, if certain sounds sound good, or a certain instrument sounds good on its own, you know, I’m gonna put it there and not worry about if it’s going off genre. It’s interesting because I’ve always said I’ve wanted to write about 5 different albums, like an Irish folk album cause I write Irish ballads as well just for myself, I love that. Then a kind of poppy album, maybe I’d write that for somebody else I don’t know. And then I love Reggae, a bit of Dubstep and…[Ioan: So a bit of everything]…yeah. I suppose it’s just a combination of the fact that when I was a teenager I listened to the radio, that’s all I listened to. You know, my brothers were like “listen to good music, here” giving me Bob Marley or Glen Hansard. No no, I’m listening to Britney and Maria Carey, you know (laughs). And then now I wouldn’t really listen to that so it’s just funny. Then I really got into singer songwriters and then certain types of Minimal Techno. People are probably really surprised at that. A little bit of Electro, folk music, like old Irish folk music. So yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ve written in as many genres as I’ve wanted to. I’ve so many different types of songs in my head that I don’t feel I’m just writing one or trying to write one. I didn’t know what the EP would be after we wrote it like I don’t know what type of EP it was gonna be. I mean it was going to be what it was going to be. We put alternative pop as the genre when it went up on on itunes and I was “yeah, ok, that’s cool”. I think with my music and from what other people have told me, people say that my voice is unique. So I suppose that if my voice is in every song it’s the common thread and there are common themes within the EP of course, like strings, but we’re evolving that and changing sounds all the time.
“I always wrote my own music and my own songs”
Do you have a band or it’s all electronic?
So I’m really excited about this. Basically last year I wasn’t gigging too much, I got vocal nodules so I had to get laser surgery in London . It was a sort of blessing because it gave me time to think how we’re going to do this live. Then a friend of mine Eamonn Barrett, (guitarist in former award winning band Royseven) was my mentor for about a year talking to me about different sounds and set ups for the live set. He’s been through music on a big scale so he was always able to give me good advice. When I said to Eamonn I need to look for a dedicated guitar player, he was like “you know what, I’ve been listening to you for a year now and I’m loving the music, I want to come on board. And I was like “Brilliant!” So now Eamonn is my live producer. So what we’re doing is, I’m going to the studio a few days a week with Greg and we’re writing and we’re recording and then what we do is I go to rehearsals with Eamon, so Eamon is there with his electric guitar. And then we’ve a guy there called Aodh O Sullivan. Eamonn is on the electric guitar and then we have the original bassist from My Bloody Valentine, Mark, he’s really good at playing the bass. So for the last five months we’ve all been rehearsing loads. I’ve written four more tracks in the last few months as well that we’re currently recording. It’s a long process, but when it’s done, it’s going to be really exciting! The sounds being creatived are just incredible. So what we’re doing is we’re taking all the tracks from the studio and recreating them live. Yno when you have somebody’s album and then you go see them live and the songs are all reworked but they’re really cool? Yeah, so we just want something really big so to answer your question “Is there a band?” – There’ll be Eamonn playing the electric guitar, Mark on the bass, and also I’ll have a keyboard. And then we’ll have Aodh there playing too. It’s just using all the influences in music from my whole life. It’s an incredible dynamic with what everybody is doing in rehearsals. If somebody suggests something everybody agrees and we’re all very strong minded so if we didn’t agree we wouldn’t agree. It just works. We’re gonna have a launch of the new set! [Ioan: Don’t forget to invite me] No no of course I will I will! I’ll be inviting everyone yeah! So we’re gonna have a cool launch in Dublin, Cork and maybe London or L.A.
What’s the hardest part of being a singer songwriter in Ireland?
The hardest part about being a singer/songwriter in Ireland is that you’re not earning most of the time. But I’m so happy. You have to believe in yourself. I don’t find the not having money part hard because I’ve made a choice to dedicate everything to the music, but the hardest thing is I know there are certain things I could do with the music if I had the money. That’s what’s hard. That was deep huh? (Laughs)
“The hardest part about being a singer in Ireland is that you’re not earning most of the time”
Where can people find your songs if they want to listen to them?
You can listen to them on soundcloud.com/nellasmusic or buy them on iTunes Nella Revolution, www.facebook.com/nellasmusic www.instagram.com/nellasmusic Twitter @nellasmusic . I’ve a video on Youtube so if you look up Nella Revolution you’ll be able to watch that.
Where do you see yourself in the next year?
I see myself gigging a lot. I want to perform as much as possible this year.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on another EP and the live set. I’m really excited about it! I’m just really eager to get back to gigging now that my voice is sorted. I’m excited to have people come to the next live show and going “ok that’s different” to what they would have seen me play before which would have been more acoustic. It’s a great team and everybody there is very talented at what they do and we have so much respect for each other because one person can’t do what the other person does so everyone is just buzzing after a rehearsal! I’m going to hold off at the moment releasing an album. I want to focus mainly on gigging live and getting out there on more live shows!
Photos by Ioan Hiliuta, MUA: Gillian Stapleton, Clothing: Elie Boutique Sandymount, Styling: Lara Mooney & Carina Cunningham, Accessories: Elie Boutique, Jewellery: Rowdy Jewellery
@Wrights Venue, Swords