Ellis.
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Ellis.

Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States
Alternative Acoustic

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""'I Am" is IAM-azing!""

Album reviewed by: Andrew Maffettone (Founder/CEO)

Ellis. is a folk/indie group from California and their debut album “I Am” is I Am-azing (did you like that?). In a time where folk is making a comeback with great artists like Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters & Men, and The Lumineers, Ellis. is doing their best to add their name to the greats of today and they are definitely headed in the right direction with this album.
“I Am” opens up with an upbeat and uplifting song called “Deepest Depths”, this track is great. With perfect matching lyrics and melodies and great, yet subtle harmonies added in, this song starts off the album perfectly. Coming in right behind this track is “Drifter”. This song shows you the beautiful voice Elora Jane who is the second vocalist in the band. She has a way of singing that shows she is not just singing every lyric but it almost seems as if she truly feels it as she verbalizes it. Each word is given a small emphasis that utilizes each feeling perfectly. Of course, then you have songs like “Call Me Elee” which is a beautiful and slightly slower song that keeps you relaxed. However this song is not as folk, it seems more as a acoustic alternative song until the snare comes in. “Lover vs. Love Her” is another great track off this album. This song tells a meaningful story that again shows the beautiful voice of Elora Jane and the amazing harmonies of Christopher Hayzel. This track is also sung more similar to a duet in which case Christopher is given the opportunity to show off his very talented voice as well. One of my favorite things of this song is the clever lyrics that give off a true emotion. The entire album seems to have a very high quality to it that shows you that this is an extremely talented band. The production value really comes through with “Toppling”, each instrument, each vocal, every little sound can be heard perfectly. Either this band got lucky or they paid good money to create this album because the sound quality is superb. The album closes with the title track and it does exactly what a closing song should do, leave you wanting more.
This is one of the best quality independent albums I have heard. The production value, the structure of everything song, everything matched up very well. If you like either old folk rock or today’s folk rock than you’ll love Ellis. This is an album to add to your collection. - www.bookedpromotions.com


"Exclusive Interview w/ Ellis."

Recently, I got to have a chat with Chris Hayzel and Elora Jane from Ellis., an alternative pop band in LA. We talked about making the band, influences, and a possible west coast tour. Check out what they had to say below!
Q: What is your writing process for I Am, did you write the lyrics then the music or a different way around?
Chris: Elora and I came together with already written material. She had music she’d written previously and I had music I’d written previously, and we both found that our styles of our music fit well together in sort of an interesting way. It was kind of a miracle that they fit together in a cohesive way. As far as my personal writing process, it really varies. Generally I’ll start with music first. I’ll come up with an idea on the guitar that I like and then I’ll start to put together the structure of the song. Then I’ll start a vocal melody and start trying to fit lyrics into that melody. But then there are times that I’ll write lyrics first, just kind of write them out in a book, and I’ll start writing another song and somehow those lyrics fit into the song that I’m writing. It just depends on where I’m at.
Elora: My writing process is really scattered. Sometimes I’ll just write down what I’m feeling and kind of figure out my favourite lines of what I’ve written down and then pop them together for a song, and sometimes I’ll just play my guitar or ukelele and figure out a melody then sing words, usually that don’t make sense, and then find words that do make sense.

Q: How long have you guys been writing the songs for this album? How long has it taken to get to this stage?
Elora: A year?
Chris: Yeah, it’s been about… Well we’ve been working together for a little over a year, and I know that the songs that I wrote took place within a period of the last three years. Some of the songs like “I Am” or “Never Cry Over Spilled Paint” were written about three years ago. And then some of the songs that I wrote like “Reality” were written right before we started working together so it’s been a long process for me.
Elora: Yeah, same with my songs. “Secret Place” is probably one of the most recent songs that I have, and all the rest of them are between one and three years old. They all just kind of sat in my pocket for a little while until I had a chance to lay them out.
Chris: And as far as putting the album together, and working together, we spent a year in the recording process putting the songs together. Putting a lot of care into them so they came out sounding good because none of the songs had any band composition to them. They were all just acoustic songs that we had with acoustic guitar or ukelele and vocals and none of them had drums or bass or any of that so it was a whole… sitting down with it and putting a band together was actually a whole process of itself. It was like rewriting the songs and restructuring them and adding things, so it was really cool as a creative process that ended up taking about a year.
Q: Walk me through the songs on your album I Am, which are your favourites?
Elora: I mean my favourite song is “Toppling” but that song’s about me which is probably why I like it so much. I mean, “Secret Place” is also my favourite song. I wrote it about my best friend so it’s really nostalgic for me. My best friend is out of the country a lot, I think he’s in Africa right now, so I miss him a lot and when I play it I think of him. Then “Reality” is just a blast to play and sing.
Chris: Yeah we have a lot of good songs to play. It’s really interesting because our favourite songs to play live when we play acoustic and when we have a band are different. Because we’re just now getting a band together, when we’re playing acoustic one of my favourite songs is “Reality” but now with the band… we actually just had rehearsals the other day, and one of the band members just said ‘actually, my favourite song to play is “Never Cry Over Spilled Paint”‘ and I thought about it and yeah actually that’s a really fun song to play with a band. The dynamics change so much when you have other people, different songs sound different and fit together differently. It’s a really fun one to play when you have everybody involved.

Q: How is it different having a band instead of just being acoustic, and what was the process to start finding a band?
Chris: It’s been a really long process.
Elora: It was like a year.
Chris: We literally just started getting our band together.
Elora: This one. This is number two.
Chris: We had a band before. Playing acoustic is fun. It’s fun that our music can break down like that so we can play in coffee shops and places like that, but for me, personally, I grew up playing in a band so I much prefer having other people and the collaboration rather than getting up by myself and playing. The majority of our shows last year were just Elora and myself. We started out with a percussionist, his name is Mike, and he left the band. Then it was just Elora and - honestreviewscorner.com


"Interview w/ Ellis."

Q) How did the idea for a tweetathon during "Pretty Little Liars" come about?

Chris: It was an idea that we brainstormed on with my mom [Nia Peeples]. We also have a raffle this month where we're giving away a bunch of cool stuff like a pair of shoes that I designed and some original artwork. Also, my mom offered up a signed "Pretty Little Liars" autograph to sweeten the deal. Tuesday came up and the day before she said we should do a test run to see how much of a frenzy we could work up. We just kind of did it to see what the response would be in that scenario. There were a lot of people that came out of the woodworks for that and it was pretty successful!

Q) What other promotions are you planning to do for the album?

Chris: Right now, we're doing a month long raffle with the prizes. As far as promoting the album, we're kind of the musical band where we go out and play a bunch of shows. We try and get our album reviewed and we're shopping it to label. We're looking for radio stations to play it, too. It's all about getting people to listen to it because we feel like we've had a lot of luck with people listening us and liking it when they hear it. The hard part is getting people to listen to it right off the bat. Right now, we want to get the album to as many ears as possible to get them interested in what it is we're doing as a group.

Q) How can fans help promote the album?

Chris: Right now, it's mostly online and local. So, if you go to http://www.enjoyellis.com it's the hub for everything Ellis. We're very, very active on Twitter and Facebook because we really like to interact with our listeners. We try not to miss anyone's questions or tweets.

Q) Where did the inspiration for your album I Am come from?

Elee: We didn't really plan the album. We were debating between "Deepest Depths" and "I Am" and we decided that for our first album title "I Am" would be the best idea because that's kind of like who are - "I am." This is our album. We kind of pieced everything together like a puzzle to have it like a slow story.

Chris: Our history as a group is that we're a young group that has been together for a little over a year. We come from two very different backgrounds. So, we took a lot of the songs from my previous experience as a song writer and Elee's previous experience as a song writer. We came together and figured out that some of our song ideas and concepts fit together really well. Like she said, when we put the album together the concept came out of the idea of who we are and what we want to present to the world. There is a track on the album called "I Am" and it's a song that we used to always open shows with and we figured that's a good first impression.

Q) Talk about the album cover.

Chris: I had seen some artwork by one of my favorite artist and performer Brandon Boyd from Incubus. He had taken ink blots and added on to them. He took Rorschach inkblots and added on to them. He saw what he could see within them and it was kind of a therapeutic thing for him to do. I kind of wanted to try it for myself. I took an inkblot and added wisps to it and little swirls. I just saw what I could within this random blot of ink. It came out looking really, really cool. What better to communicate the idea of "I Am" than a Rorschach inkblot? Everybody who listens to the album hears something different and it's all about how you interpret the music. Art is so subjective and a song can also mean one thing to us and then something completely different to a listener. That's what is so great about it!

Q) What songs are your favorites on the album?

Elee: My favorite song on the album is "Secret Place" because I wrote that song about my best friend and I am really excited to put that on the album. Everyone is having a huge response to "Call Me Elee," which I never thought would be the one that people would really enjoy because it's so personal. It's called "Call Me Elee" so it doesn't resonate with a lot of people because not everyone is named Elee, but I'm assuming it is resonating with people because everyone seems to be liking that song. It's nice to have that kind of reaction to a song that was put on the backburner for a while.

Chris: I know that people respond to "Lover Vs. Love Her." A lot of people love that song. Another song that is a little bit more of a concept track is "Mystery Lovers." People have been wanting to hear that and after they do they realize it is a song that kind of expands throughout the duration of the track. It just gets bigger, bigger and bigger. It seems to draw people's attention.

Q) How did the collaboration between you two come about?

Chris: Elee and I have known each other for almost as long as we have been playi - Starrymag.com


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Ellis. was an accident, born out of each members' individual desire to write and deliver true music from the heart. The band started as a one time gig arrangement, put together last minute for a two hour show in Los Angeles. However, with the ingredients consisting of Elora Jane (vocals/guitar/ukulele) and Christopher Hayzel (vocalist/multi-instrumentalist) it was a subtle but potent mix, and with percussionist Mike Musselman accompanying the duo the cocktail became that much more devious.
"We sat down to play that first show without really knowing what we had... I mean we knew, but we didn't REALLY know," says Chris. "It was like any other gig, people were talking, yapping, but then as soon as we started to play it got dead silent."
"It was like a light suddenly turned on in our heads and said 'Bing, this is good,'" adds Elora.
The group released their debut album "I Am" to much local acclaim in January of 2013 and has hit the live circuit to promote their introduction to the world of music. Selling more than 1000 copies independently, "I Am" is the pinnacle of Ellis.' first year as a group and communicates quite loudly that this is only the beginning of this dynamic band's journey.
Ellis. continuously captures audiences with captivating lyrics, hypnotizing harmonies, and music that ranges from light, bubbly, love songs all the way to dark, foreboding, social eye openers. The duo continues to play shows around the Los Angeles area and branching out through the country, appearing at and playing such events as the "How Sweet It Is" Pre-Grammy party, "Children Uniting Nations" Oscar viewing event and the Susan G Komen "Race For The Cure", however, nine times out of ten you will find them playing at an underground venue, sharing their music with as many people as they can. With the addition of Dylan Lewellyn (keys), Jon Osser (bass) and Jason Weiner (drums), Ellis. is effectively carving out their nitch in the Los Angeles Music Scene and opening doors to their fuller, more unique sound.