Every once in awhile you see something, straight on, or in a passing, a fleeting moment, and it’s something that stops you. If you have not listened to Lindsay Ell, you need to, and regardless, you are about to, as this is a woman, a pure, genuine performer, rockstar, that is on the verge of becoming legend.
“When you think of all the best attributes you could throw into a blender to create a musical artist, such as soulful vocals, writing chops, ability to play the fire out of a guitar, being gorgeous, not to mention class and kindness, Lindsay is all of it…” - Brad Paisley. Lindsay Ell is a woman on fire. Billboard names “The Project, The Best Country Album of 2017.” From a headlining tour, opening for Keith Urban’s “Graffiti U” Tour, and so much more, Lindsay Ell is IT.”
Dane Kennedy: I had the opportunity to see you at the Santa Barbara Bowl with Keith Urban. What did you think of performing at the Bowl? I ask as the best such as Mayer say that the top two venues to perform in the States are Red Rocks and the Bowl in Santa Barbara.
Lindsay Ell: Absolutely, the Santa Barbara Bowl is such a legendary venue, it sent chills down my spine when I walked out on that stage. There are so many artists that I’ve looked up to and have inspired me in my whole career, so to be able to walk out on that stage and to play for one of my own idols, Keith Urban, it was a really memorable night; there’s nothing like being able to perform on a stage and look out and see the ocean...it’s pretty perfect!”
Speaking of Mayer, “The Continuum Project.” Amazing. What inspired you to create that “Project,” and amazingly all solo in your studio for 2 weeks? Personal connection to John or to his music or both?
So I was about to go into the studio to record my own record and I was kind of a nut. Just using time as an artist to figure out what you really wanted your record to sound like sonically...there was just so much going through my mind at that time, and so my producer, Kristian Bush, sat me down and said “Lindsay, stop worrying about all that, what’s your favorite record, what do you like to listen to?” “Continuum, it’s my favorite album, I’ve listened to it so many times…” “Perfect, I want you to record the whole thing front to back, I want you to lock yourself in your studio by yourself, I want you to play every single instrument…”
That must have been a very intense, motivating, and beautiful thing for you to do.
It was, it was something that I had never done before, so to be able to take music that I love, because sometimes we love a piece of music, while we don’t really know why, we don’t understand, and so it was amazing to really pick apart the music that I love and the record that I love and figure out why I love it so much.
Performing with Keith this year on the Graffiti U tour, which was fire, how was that?!
It was so amazing. It was a dream come true to be able to open up for one of my idols and to tour...it was really just a bucket list moment to be able to do that with Keith, it will definitely be something I never forget.
I love an image you posted on IG with a megaphone, you have an unbridled sense of self, of straight up rock ‘n roll; when did you first feel that and what made you chase it?
It’s crazy when I think of the music that has inspired me since I started playing and when I was a little girl I went to bluegrass with my dad and would run around and you’d see this little blonde girl play guitar, up there, I’ve got Randy Bachman on my team, super guy...and I’d look at Randy as he was playing and say ‘Randy, what is that?!’ And that opened up my mind.
So you’re featured on Brantley Gilbert’s new single, etc., you’re featured on so much else, you’re a woman on fire, what else does Lindsay Ell have planned in 2019?
I’m so excited about the new Brantley song, he’s so wonderful to collaborate with, I cannot wait for the world to hear it! We’re also gonna be back on my headlining tour, beginning of the year...having such a crazy year touring with Brad Paisley, Sugarland, and Keith Urban, it’s really very cool to be out on my first headlining tour...as well as going over to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, as well as working on my own record out in spring…”
Having your first headlining tour, what does that feel like?
It’s such a cool feeling to walk into a venue to know that they came in for me. They’ve listened to the record...to know that everyone in that front row, a fan of mine, a fan of mine enough to buy a ticket to my own show...it’s a groovy weird feeling...to know they’ve listened to my records...I’m so grateful to wake up every morning and still call this a “job.” To play a full 75 minute show to fans that our so captivated, it’s a really special moment. Those moments, when people are screaming, it makes everything. It makes all of the unglamorous moments of touring pay off.
You have this, Lindsay, this very unreal way of getting on the stage and blowing it up. Where does that come from? What courses through you, in that moment, those moments, just before you are about to go on stage, whether a smaller Santa Barbara Bowl Venue or a huge stadium? The energy, the mindset, what is that? What’s in that moment?
There’s something so exciting to me when the lights go down and just before I walk up on stage, there’s tension in the audience. It’s so hard to describe, it’s one of my favorite parts of life...there’s this thing in the room, everyone is waiting for the show to start, for the music to explode...I don’t really get nervous anymore, it’s more of a feeling of adrenaline, and walking out on stage, and I’m grateful that I’m a musician, and I can play guitar, because it gives me another arm on my body so to speak. Another tool to communicate to an audience. You can write lyrics. You can hear songs. You can record a song. You can perform up on stage. But, to also be able to play instruments. The guitar solo is the unfinished piece to every song. Adding the extra dimension. The other thing I love as a musician is being able to take things to a different place. When I record a guitar solo for a record, I will only play a certain length. But, when I’m live? It can take a whole new dimension. I can bring it to a completely different place. I can go on solo for 8 minutes if I want...I can go on for 15 minutes! In the lives shows, it’s a different gift, so being able to being able to explode on stage is a gift.
When you can get on stage and capture it, when you can watch someone such as yourself, Keith Urban, Jared Leto, that’s when you know you are watching a true artist.
Thank you for saying that, that means a lot to me. It’s when I do live shows that I’m truly inspired. John Mayer, Keith, Jared Leto great example...their full artists, it’s not every single dimension of what they do, it’s the full package.
Besides John Mayer, what’s on your personal playlist?
John Mayer, Shawn Mendes, The Clash, Kacey Musgraves, Anderson East, Larry Into Lauv.