Interview: Ella Henderson
Thu, 02 Apr 2015 08:55:40
Chances are you’ve already heard Ella Henderson’s hit single “Ghost,” however, it’s the entire album, Chapter One, that will really haunt you in the most wonderful way possible. She opened up to us about the record in this exclusive interview. The songwriting remains utterly unbridled and vivid, literally painting pictures with each verse and chorus. Ella’s voice really transfixes the most though. She carries each word with raw and real emotion. As the title says though, this is Chapter One, and we can expect a whole lot for from Ella in the future.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Ella Henderson talks Chapter One and so much more.
What was your vision for Chapter One as a whole?
When I think of the writing process altogether, I was such at such different places throughout. There’s no one sound all the way through. It definitely did change dynamically. I was writing from really vulnerable places—going from real happiness to extreme sadness.
Do you tend to write in the moment as soon as something happens?
It happens differently every time. Most of the time, it happens when I go into the studio. What kind of song I write depends on how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling very angry, I’ll write a very aggressive song. If I’m feeling quite sassy, it could come out like “Mirror Man.” If I’m feeling more vulnerable, a track like “Lay Down” could happen. It depends on that. For “Mirror Man,” I did have a concept for quite a long time. I just had to be very comfortable to share what it was about in the studio. It’s about understanding what kind of songs and music you can write alongside certain producers. I’ve sat at the piano and written songs since a young age, but going into the studio with people from all over the world who are at the top of their game is something else.
What’s the story behind “Missed?”
I wrote that song when I was about 13- or 14-years-old. That was song I auditioned for the X Factor with. That was the first one I put out there to the world publicly. I wanted to put that as the last track on the album to let it finish where I began. It was funny, because it became about my granddad. Lyrically, the song is about hope, regret, and redemption. My grandfather is a massive influence on me in terms of music. He taught me so much. I respected so much. When I was talking about him because I sang that song, and it was so emotional, they were drawn together. It became the song I write about my granddad. I did think about it deeply. It can relate in one way because I did have a lot of resentment for never attending his funeral. It’s about holding something and not letting go. I love him so much though it wasn’t about that. Some of the songs on the record are about my personal experience, and some aren’t. It’s a mixture.
Where did “The First Time” come from?
That’s actually a song I wrote with “Babyface.” He’s incredible. I was so privileged to work with him. This record was a story about a certain situation. You’re a young woman, and you’re putting yourself out there. Sometimes, girls can feel ashamed of themselves. Guys can feel that way too.
What artists shaped you?
It’s a complete mixture. I take it back to the roots of music. I listened to Motown because of my mom and dad listened to it. I’d say Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin. My granddad would listen to a lot of Nat King Cole as well as The Rat Pack. The most influential album for me growing up was probably Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black album. It was something that was so powerful and heartfelt. It sounded like she had a voice that came from a totally different era. I could listen to that and be inspired. It was a mixture of genres. Coming from all these different sounds I loved really helped me make music.
Is it important for you to tell stories in the songs?
I definitely write very honestly. It’s very raw. I would describe it as my diary. The whole album is the first chapter of my career and my personal life as well. I’d love for people’s own imaginations to take them into a completely different place and world.
If Chapter One were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
It would have to be something sweet and that had a lot of heart in it as well. Let’s see. It might be The Notebook mixed with something stupid like a rom-com. It’s a mixture of all different sides. There are snippets and emotional parts of the movie.
Watch Ella’s music videos!