Ella Henderson has performed at V festival this year, she will be at Sundown in Norfolk tomorrow and has her own headlining tour happening in October. GrapevineLIVE’s Tony Bell caught up with her for a quick chat…
Many of us know Ella Henderson through X-Factor but you have been singing for a lot longer and indeed studying music for a lot longer than that, haven’t you?
I have, music has always been a huge part of my life, we always had a piano in the house growing up. No one in my family is necessarily musically talented but I was definitely influenced by music everybody was very much into different types of music growin’ up. I was the youngest so I was always around be Jazz music, Soul music or Reggae music – I was always listening to great albums.
That first X-Factor audition, what was it like walking onto that stage?
Nerve-wracking, I think I was terrified at the time especially knowing that I was going out there in front of judges that are part of the music industry. And also knowing that I was singing my own song, it is nerve-wracking doing a cover!
Singing your own song on X-Factor was very different, wan’t it?
Yeah – it was scary. I remember thinking: just do it and see what happens! The whole reason I went for that show, the reason why I auditioned was because they introduced the new rules and you could play your own songs and play an instrument. And it massively changed my whole life.
And overnight, as if by magic you have a number one album!
Oh yeah – absolutely, that’s how it works….
How much fun was it, creating your own album?
It was fun, it was a long journey, longer than I think any of us anticipated. But I think the biggest thing with me is that I left X-FActor when I was sixteen and I wanted to just take the time to work out what type of artist I wanted to be. Time to let me grow into the type of music I wanted to develop and not rush or feel pressurised. That was so important, especially having the privilege of being able to create a body of work. You have to experience things to be able to write and everything I’ve ever done has just been me sat at a piano on my own writing and letting my thoughts run wild. Meeting all these different producers and writers it was important for me to feel relaxed and comfortable and get into the groove I guess of just actually enjoying it. When you reach that point that is when the best songs begin to happen.
The album, “Chapter 1” is a collaboration with a lot of people isn’t it?
We collaborated with lots of people traveling the US and UK. I met some incredible writers and producers, people who have been at the top of their game for years, whether it be “Babyface” (Kenny Edmonds) or Ryan Tedder or Salaam Remi it was just unbelieveable.
Which do you prefer, being in the recording studio or playing live? Or is there a differennce?
I would say that they are both very different, for different reasons but I guess I do love being out on the stage because, at the moment especially because I’ve spent almost two years in a studio and writing for so long and now being up on a stage performing my music it does a full circle – you are getting a reaction to the songs, you imagined people singing the lyrics back to you in a studio, and there you are doing it. Its like that sort of certification of this is whats its for.
But they are both amazing in their own different ways – I love the studio because I can just be myself, I feel very relaxed and comfortable and I feel safe within those four walls and I can say anything I want, I can express anything I want and nobody can stop me. That’s my space, whereas performing is just like the biggest adrenaline rush!
And I suppose the ultimate adrenaline rush is having your very own headlining show which starts in October in Rhyl. But you are warming up for that tour by guesting alongside Take That! Not many people get that opportunity..
No! It is definitely an opportunity I could not possibily turn down, I can remember getting the phone call from the boys and actually being invited onto the tour! It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. First off the experience is priceless, doing an arena show night after night in front of such a loyal and hard core crowd. But also experiencing life on the road. Me and my band have become a lot closer, so much tighter in our performances and actually seeing how my voice can hold up doing a long set night after night. It has been such a good experience for me.
Tell us about your own tour and the band.
My band – they are all guys, not much older than me some of them. They are just so talented, they are like my brothers I guess. We are constantly rehearsing whether it be for something to do with radio or a show or a one off gig or a tour – we’ll be going into a long stretch of rehearsal after the festival season getting ready for my own tour. That is going to be so much fun – I can’t wait!
What is the best or worst thing about touring?
The best thing is that it doesn’t matter what has happened during your whole day, good or bad, you know that when you go out on stage you suck it up, walk out there and the roar of the crowd makes you forget about everything that has happened that day – the crowd reminds you why you make the sacrifices.
I suppose the worst thing… I don’t know. Luckily on this tour we’ve been staying in hotels so I haven’t had to experience smelly boys on a tour bus yet… but I guess that will happen!
The album is beautifully sung and produced, big punchy numbers but I came across your Capital FM acoustic sessions – have you a preference for that raw cut back style over the studio productions?
I guess I like to mix it up depending on what the environment is. With my own tour I want people to experience an intimate version of the album and for people to get to know me more. I want it to almost be a live lounge sit down version of the record and I want people to come away feeling like they know more about me and my life which is basically what the record is about. I talk about being a child all the way up to where I am right now. With my music and my voice I get to do acoustic performances and relay a different feel to a track than when it is produced on the record.
That sound like it sums up perfectly the Ella Henderson tour! Thank you for taking the time to talk to GrapevineLIVE Ella.
You can catch Ella’s show in our region at Cambridge Corn Exchange on October 31st or Cliffs Pavilion Southend on 3rd November – if you are very quick she also plays at the Sundown Festival in Norwich tomorrow!