The Ellis Collective
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The Ellis Collective

| Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

| INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Acoustic

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"Star Stands Up to be Counted"

See link for full article - Norther Territory News


"Time Off Magazine Review"

See link for full article - Time Off Magazine


"Drum Media Album Review"

See link for Full Article - Drum Media


"Inpress Magazine Album Review"

See link for full article - Inpress Magazine


"Review of Merry Fest 3: Rock vs Folk"

Local, original, world class,’ read the stamp on punters’ wrists as they came in from cooler climes and into the school hall-esque warmth of the Polish White Eagle Club for the 3rd Merry Fest. On the menu was a smorgasbord of local bands – The Ellis Collective, Waterford, Mr Fibby, Fire On The Hill (a late replacement for Voss) and Super Best Friends – representing the opposing sides of folk and rock. Which side would emerge victorious?

Local folksters The Ellis Collective took to the stage first, promising to try and warm things up a bit, though lead singer and guitarist Matty Ellis, seemed to be warm enough in his trademark blue singlet. The Ellis Collective offered up a laidback take on folk, with Ellis’ voice, raw and honest, blending perfectly with the rich sounds of cello, fiddle, the odd bit of musical saw, bass, slide guitar and the slinky sound of drums played with brushes. Emma Kelly, on fiddle and musical saw, harmonised well with Ellis, bringing additional life to the wonderful storytelling inherent in so many of The Ellis Collective’s well-honed tunes such as What it Means and Wanderings.

Representing the first of the night’s rock contenders, Waterford continued to warm up the crowd with talk of the (allegedly) coming Rapture and allusions to fire and brimstone, with lead singer Glen Martin quipping that those who ended up in Purgatory would likely be stuck in open plan offices in Civic for eternity. Luckily before that could happen, the crowd was treated to a wealth of new material from the band, which seemed to get increasingly rockier with each track. Despite Martin’s warning that the fact that they were playing a new song was code for “…we don’t know how it goes yet,” the band pulled off an energetic set of undeniably rocking songs, intricately weaving together Martin’s distinctive voice with guitars, bass and drums in a steadily increasing wall of sound.

Mr Fibby proffered a unique brand of folk, complete with theatre and crowd participation, choosing to perform at ground level rather than onstage. Familiar faces from The Ellis Collective made an appearance alongside an animated storyteller, who would have been as equally at home in a circus tent as the ringleader as he was in the centre of the floor of the White Eagle. Mariette, a love story told in two halves, got the crowd chuckling with its story of a lovesick poet eaten by a crocodile, while another song told the story of Lucia, a woman both unlucky in love and in receiving a cup of tea at the correct temperature.

The members of Fire On The Hill filled the stage of the White Eagle (close to overflowing), while their music got some of the more enthusiastic members of the crowd to the dance floor. The band played a blend of cruisy rock and roots that would be the perfect soundtrack to a late night highway drive, complete with a 12 string pedal steel guitar which Lachlan Coventry put to good use in a few of the band’s earlier numbers.

After a longer interlude than the previous changes, Super Best Friends took to the stage. The trio launched a shock and awe rock attack on the audience, with the lead singer’s guitar strapped across his back like a weapon at the ready while he played a small keyboard and roared into the microphone in Karma Karma. Super Best Friends, whilst clearly representing the side of rock in the night’s battle, also showed hints of electro and punk influences, with the bass player at one stage exchanging his bass to play the Tetris theme on his new rather folk toy, a piano accordion. These “super best friends since year eight,” gave the stayers in the audience a real treat, breaking out tracks like the upbeat Ready Aim Fire, keeping the crowd entertained until the very end by rocking out all over the stage.

It was a close match between rock and folk at the White Eagle, perhaps too close to call, but if you were in the crowd, you certainly enjoyed a night full of local, original, world class music. - Fasterlouder


"Bloke Folk Unearthed: The Ellis Collective Says What It Means and Means What It Means"

See link for scanned article - Rhythms Magazine


"Fly Magazine Album Review: Means What It Means"

See image link for full article - The Canberra Times


"Rave Magazine Indie Review: The Ellis Collective"

Triple J Unearthed winners The Ellis Collective have offered up a debut album of unflinchingly honest acoustic indie and bloke folk. Lead vocalist Matty Ellis leads the rag-tag team from our favourite fireworks-and-porn-wielding capital city through a repertoire of bitter songs. Featuring topics like Australian culture’s love of alcohol abuse, as seen in 7 Days Later, vocalist Ellis could be a male version of Missy Higgins, with a blinding Australian accent set to acoustic guitar, violin and cello. The six-piece have created a distinctive album with raw and powerful songwriting; songs like the album’s namesake Means What It Means show passion and a belief in what they’re writing about. It’s full of simple melodies and sweet harmonies courtesy of Alison Oakleigh’s perfect background crooning. Their debut is also packaged in a super soft case, and who can say no to nice wrapping? - Rave Magazine


"Canberra Band Scores Festival Slot"

Full article in link below. - Canberra Chronicle


"Indie Folksters' Talents Unearthed"

Full article in link below - Canberra Weekly


"ABC Radio Album Review: The Ellis Collective"

Most album review on 666 afternoons follow a predictable path: a CD appears, accompanied by a block of chocolate produced by Marcus Kelson and then a gentle half hour of argument and discussion about some people we've never met. Not so this week, when the album in question was Means What it Means by local heroes The Ellis Collective. Genevieve and Marcus were joined in the studio by Matt Ellis and Sam King, and after hearing Wanderings from the album we talked to Matt about the album's long gestation and origins.

It's a piece of work that springs both from a strong sense of place and Matt's sometimes tortured creative process. He spends long periods of time alone working through the feelings behind his compositions and says that the songs have a greater meaning than simply sounding right - they also need to serve an emotional purpose. Matt and Sam played Seven Days Later, which is the current single, and followed that with Not That Kind.

It's been an interesting journey for the band, who recently won Triple J's Unearthed competition. They've avoided touring extensively, preferring the festival circuit, although that may change with increased attention for their music. You can catch the Ellis Collective live at the National Folk Festival on Good Friday and they'll also be at Groovin the Moo in May. - ABC Radio


"Interview: The Ellis Collective Return To Wintermoon"

WHEN The Ellis Collective touched down in Canberra after playing at the Wintermoon Festival last year, front man Matt Ellis sent an email to the organisers saying the band would love to return and perform.

And this year the band will return to the festival, which will be held over the May Day long weekend, at Camerons Pocket.

“It is such a beautiful place, when we went there last year we did not know what to expect, but it had this great hippy vibe and it is such a beautiful spot.

“I think what makes a great festival comes down to its location,” Ellis said.

The band has recently won Triple J Unearthed competition and will launch its debut album Mean What it Mean as part of Wintermoon.

Joining The Ellis Collective will be local talent Charlotte Boumford and Swoon, along with the Lamplights, The Old Boys Gospel Band, The Fat Cigars, Pearl, Dave Flower Band and many more stellar acts. - The Daily Mercury


"Interview: The Ellis Collective at Groovin' The Moo"

Winning the latest Triple J Unearthed competition has given Canberra six piece The Ellis Collective new found fame as well as the opportunity to play at Canberra’s Groovin the Moo (GTM) festival. It lands in the capital on Sunday 8th May and frontman Matty Ellis couldn’t be more excited.

“So many good bands make great music and bust their arse putting it out there. We’re just one amongst the many,” Ellis says modestly. “When it boils down to it, opportunities like this are down to luck. Needless to say we’re stoked that luck went our way.”

Sitting somewhere between folk, indie and country, The Ellis Collective is just as their name describes; a bunch of people Ellis collected to hang out and play music together. After playing around Canberra, Ellis lucked out and found his band amongst an assortment of other local acts. “I’m the musical equivalent of a sad loser using online dating services for years and then suddenly hooking up with a supermodel,” he admits.

Since then, The Ellis Collective has garnered support all over Canberra, playing various festivals and numerous gigs. Their debut album Means What It Means was released exclusively through Landspeed Records last month, with the rest of the country having to wait until June to get their hands on it.

On their debut at GTM, Ellis says The Ellis Collective will be easy to look out for. “I don’t think there’s any other GTM acts that include a string section and a singing saw, but it gives you an idea of why our music is hard to categorise,”

“‘My hat is off to GTM for being a massive touring festival that has given local artists their due credit. I cannot wait to stand front of stage to see that. I think that the audiences turning up to see bigger names would do well to check them all out.”

- Fasterlouder


"The Ellis Collective Win Triple J Unearthed"

Congratulations to The Ellis Collective.... - Triple J


"Album of the week: The Ellis Collective 'Means What It Means'"

“ Bloke Folk”, it’s an intriguing term. Made up of two nouns which, taken as singular signifiers, bring to mind two very opposing images: a stubbies-wearing, Tooheys-toting, hairy, smelly man’s man; and the gentle, lilting tones of Appalachian mountain music. Yet under the hand of Matty Ellis, of The Ellis Collective, something is created which becomes entirely universal. Means What It Means is the debut album from the Canberra six-piece. It is an hour’s worth of intelligently crafted and achingly honest music: songs of heartbreak, loss, longing and self destruction. An eclectic mix of instrumentation (from guitar and drums, to Hammond organ, flugelhorn and saw) creates a musical layering that mirrors the layering of emotional intensity within the lyrics. Faultless harmonies combine with pizzicato-driven rhythmic tension, as we are propelled along the album’s journey. The penultimate track, Don’t Go (“…stay saving my soul”) ends with two minutes of silence. But just as we shakily exhale, reeling from the preceding songs, the hidden track begins. Guitar strikes up, echoed by simple and steady percussion, and at the heart of it all, Ellis’ raw, emotive and gutsy vocals. And it takes our breath away. - BMA Magazine


"After 15 Years, Ellis Finally Collects"

Interview text available through the link provided. - The Canberra Times


"Any Means Necessary: an interview with The Ellis Collective"

ANY MEANS NECESSARY

1) Your soon to be released (and eagerly anticipated) album Means What It Means has been a few years in the making. Is this album the end of a season for your creative career, or the beginning of something new?

The album is definitely the end of something – there will be some closure in its release. The opening track, 1997, is named after the year I wrote it. For over a decade I’ve held onto these songs like a fucked up Catholic girl and her musical virginity hoping and waiting that the right people would come along and help me make it. I am forever grateful I didn’t rush the album as it led me to this amazing band and an incredible experience recording to analogue tape at Infidel Studios.

2) Why was the track Means What It Means chosen as the figurehead of the album?

If I had to showcase our sound to a stranger with one song – this is it. This is the only track where everyone in the band has a chance to really cut loose. It features layered harmonies, an amazing string arrangement, relentless bass lines and snare chops, a vicious violin solo and a shredding final verse. Add some cranky lyrics and that’s The Ellis Collective to a tee.

3) Canberrans have been watching you perform on our stages and in our backyards for years. But for how long have you been writing music?

I started playing the violin at five. Not a hugely popular instrument in West Queanbeyan at the time. I started dabbling in songwriting when I was 17, but was hugely influenced by the time I spent working at the old Gypsy Bar in the late ‘90s. In my time there, I learnt a lot watching young artists like George, John Butler and Jeff Lang starting out.

4) How and when was The Collective born?

I have always been a pretty average guitarist, so I spent years looking for a band. After a string of awkward jams and failed auditions, I gave up on the band idea and started playing solo. As soon as I stopped looking for a band, it arrived. A year later after a series of bizarre coincidences, we suddenly had this wonderful band. The combination stuck and we’ve been mates ever since.

5) Your songs seem very personal and are often emotionally charged. What is the inspiration of your songwriting process? Do you think you need to be sad to write a good song?

Every songwriter is different, but I often compare my own songwriting process to dreaming. You can’t really explain it, but in its own strange way it clears out the clutter in your soul. I don’t keep songs based on how musically strong they are or how much people like them. I only keep songs if they have a deep cathartic effect on me.

I don’t find that this means I have to be happy or sad to write a song – there just needs to be something that’s strong enough to fight its way out from inside of me.

6) How much do you feel emotional health is wrapped up in the artistic process? Is artistic expression reflective of health, or rather, is it healing?

See above on this one.

7) What is the significance of recurring images, such as beer and cigarettes, or carvings/scratchings, within the album?

This album is a chronology of important moments that have changed me in some way. For good or for bad, I’m marked by what I was walking through or who I was walking with at the time. Some of these scratches heal with time and others a little more indelibly carved into who I am. As for drinking and smoking, I think they’re the hallmark signs of a destructive self pity so they often seem to sneak themselves into my songs.

8) As a band, are songs ever written collaboratively?

The Ellis Collective has a two stage collaborative approach. Even though I wrote most of the album before I met the band, they transformed my tunes with such amazing and sensitive arrangements.

There’s also an indirect collaboration. Working with such an extraordinary group of musicians for so long has dramatically changed my songwriting. The band’s influence is amazing – while I write them, you’ll see their fingerprints are all over the songs on the next album.

9) The local Canberra music scene is rich in diversity and also contains a lot of cross-genre collaboration. Do you think that this tendency for collaboration has created a uniquely “Canberran” sound?

I think that strong collaboration has certainly led to shared musical ideals and standards amongst Canberra bands. For us, and I think generally within our genre, this is characterised by avoiding over-production with a greater focus on capturing genuine musical performances. It’s a very honest approach to recording.

10) What do you see as the future of Canberra’s local music scene?

Across all genres, Canberra bands are some of the best in the country. I think this will continue. Canberra audiences are beautiful. They embrace the music, not ‘the scene’ and I think this makes them less fickle compared to audiences in larger cities. I think this will continue. Bands seeking a national or international profile will continue to find leaving Canberra an attractive option.

In the future, you may not be able to stop bands leaving Canberra but you’ll also never stop good music being made here.

The Ellis Collective will be launching their album Means What It Means live at The Street Theatre on Saturday March 26. Support will be provided by Mikelangelo, Vorn Doolette and Tom Woodward. Tickets are $33 and can be purchased via the venue’s website. - BMA Magazine


"The Ellis Collective - Any Means Necessary"

ANY MEANS NECESSARY

1) Your soon to be released (and eagerly anticipated) album Means What It Means has been a few years in the making. Is this album the end of a season for your creative career, or the beginning of something new?

The album is definitely the end of something – there will be some closure in its release. The opening track, 1997, is named after the year I wrote it. For over a decade I’ve held onto these songs like a fucked up Catholic girl and her musical virginity hoping and waiting that the right people would come along and help me make it. I am forever grateful I didn’t rush the album as it led me to this amazing band and an incredible experience recording to analogue tape at Infidel Studios.

2) Why was the track Means What It Means chosen as the figurehead of the album?

If I had to showcase our sound to a stranger with one song – this is it. This is the only track where everyone in the band has a chance to really cut loose. It features layered harmonies, an amazing string arrangement, relentless bass lines and snare chops, a vicious violin solo and a shredding final verse. Add some cranky lyrics and that’s The Ellis Collective to a tee.

3) Canberrans have been watching you perform on our stages and in our backyards for years. But for how long have you been writing music?

I started playing the violin at five. Not a hugely popular instrument in West Queanbeyan at the time. I started dabbling in songwriting when I was 17, but was hugely influenced by the time I spent working at the old Gypsy Bar in the late ‘90s. In my time there, I learnt a lot watching young artists like George, John Butler and Jeff Lang starting out.

4) How and when was The Collective born?

I have always been a pretty average guitarist, so I spent years looking for a band. After a string of awkward jams and failed auditions, I gave up on the band idea and started playing solo. As soon as I stopped looking for a band, it arrived. A year later after a series of bizarre coincidences, we suddenly had this wonderful band. The combination stuck and we’ve been mates ever since.

5) Your songs seem very personal and are often emotionally charged. What is the inspiration of your songwriting process? Do you think you need to be sad to write a good song?

Every songwriter is different, but I often compare my own songwriting process to dreaming. You can’t really explain it, but in its own strange way it clears out the clutter in your soul. I don’t keep songs based on how musically strong they are or how much people like them. I only keep songs if they have a deep cathartic effect on me.

I don’t find that this means I have to be happy or sad to write a song – there just needs to be something that’s strong enough to fight its way out from inside of me.

6) How much do you feel emotional health is wrapped up in the artistic process? Is artistic expression reflective of health, or rather, is it healing?

See above on this one.

7) What is the significance of recurring images, such as beer and cigarettes, or carvings/scratchings, within the album?

This album is a chronology of important moments that have changed me in some way. For good or for bad, I’m marked by what I was walking through or who I was walking with at the time. Some of these scratches heal with time and others a little more indelibly carved into who I am. As for drinking and smoking, I think they’re the hallmark signs of a destructive self pity so they often seem to sneak themselves into my songs.

8) As a band, are songs ever written collaboratively?

The Ellis Collective has a two stage collaborative approach. Even though I wrote most of the album before I met the band, they transformed my tunes with such amazing and sensitive arrangements.

There’s also an indirect collaboration. Working with such an extraordinary group of musicians for so long has dramatically changed my songwriting. The band’s influence is amazing – while I write them, you’ll see their fingerprints are all over the songs on the next album.

9) The local Canberra music scene is rich in diversity and also contains a lot of cross-genre collaboration. Do you think that this tendency for collaboration has created a uniquely “Canberran” sound?

I think that strong collaboration has certainly led to shared musical ideals and standards amongst Canberra bands. For us, and I think generally within our genre, this is characterised by avoiding over-production with a greater focus on capturing genuine musical performances. It’s a very honest approach to recording.

10) What do you see as the future of Canberra’s local music scene?

Across all genres, Canberra bands are some of the best in the country. I think this will continue. Canberra audiences are beautiful. They embrace the music, not ‘the scene’ and I think this makes them less fickle compared to audiences in larger cities. I think this will continue. Bands seeking a national or international profile will continue to find leaving Canberra an attractive option.

In the future, you may not be able to stop bands leaving Canberra but you’ll also never stop good music being made here.

The Ellis Collective will be launching their album Means What It Means live at The Street Theatre on Saturday March 26. Support will be provided by Mikelangelo, Vorn Doolette and Tom Woodward. Tickets are $33 and can be purchased via the venue’s website. - BMA Magazine


"The Ellis Collective Single Launch with Special Guests Waterford @ The"

After braving a line so long that passing hectic kids mistook it for Mooseheads, myself and what felt like hundreds of punters were finally embraced by that old familiar mildew smell of The Phoenix for a show that was well worth the wait.

Kicking things off were Phoenix regulars Waterford. The boys played their hearts out for a rowdy yet respectful crowd who lapped up the smart lyrics and Britpop vibes with as much gusto as they lapped up their beers. Waterford’s infectious indie sounds make the dance floor seem an irresistible option, even in a venue as crowded as The Phoenix. While only a few brave souls, possibly a few drinks ahead of the rest fully succumbed to the temptation, the entire crowd bopped along in their seats for the whole set – more than warmed up and ready for the main show.

Thankfully, the buzz was long-lasting, as a few technical issues pushed The Ellis Collective’s starting time back a fair bit. A few microphone squeals and expletives later, however and the group had the whole bar under their spell. Frontman Matty Ellis may very well be a bald-headed behemoth who could snap his guitar in one hand while punching you with the other, but his powerful voice injected life and emotion into the beautifully crafted lyrics. Add to this the combination of folk, gypsy, indie and pub rock that forms the talented Collective’s distinctive sound and barely an eye was left dry in the house.

Of course, Matty Ellis doesn’t get his best blue singlet on for nothing and there was a point to all the fun – Means What it Means, the title track off the band’s debut album, had its very first public outing on Friday night. The track is typically Ellis; poetry and gravel-voiced vocals that perfectly encapsulate the ‘bloke-folk’ label the band has adopted and it offers a tantalising taste of what is surely going to be a highly sought-after album.

So if you’re a fan of folk-rock, local music, or even just guys in singlets, then grab a copy of the single – available now. For those who still can’t get enough of The Ellis Collective, get to the Means What it Means album launch, I’ll see you there.

The Ellis Collective Means What it Means album launch @ The Street Theatre, Canberra, Saturday 26th March - Fasterlouder


"Mojo Juju & The Ellis Collective @ The Phoenix - 24.04.08"

Canberra hosted a double-header from the aural and visual feast that is Newcastle’s Gypsy band Mojo Juju & the Snake Oil Merchants. Playing on Wednesday night with folk band The Ellis Collective at the Phoenix they followed this up with a Thursday night gig at the Transit Bar with Mr. Fibby and the Andi & George Band. Those who braved the chilling Canberra autumn nights received a special two shows of melancholy, spoken word, and joyful dance. Each night was conducive to dreams and banished everything but feeling as elements of Newcastle’s music collective met with members of Canberra’s to play lots of music.

The Wednesday night crowd at the Phoenix was small but intense for visitors Mojo Juju & the Snake Oil Merchants, playing with Canberra’s The Ellis Collective. Opening the night Matty Ellis, Grahame Thompson, Sam King, Emma Kelly, Alison Procter and Dan Kempers combined vocals and instruments into a melancholy that offered glimpse of beautiful despair – Don’t Go obviously loved by the crowd.

Mojo Juju & the Snake Oil Merchants followed, their visual and aural ensemble easing the crowd from the heartbreaking intensity of the Ellis Collective into their world of Gypsy dance and inspired storytelling. Mojo Juju and the Snake Oil Merchants had a small host up and moving, including the most reticent of Canberra’s dancers, all absorbed to the point of painful joy within their dancing sides.

This was the first trip to Canberra for the Newcastle Band and as they played through their very first set in Canberra including obvious crowd favourite Public Announcement as well as The Warning the band looked to be enjoying their set and left the crowd begging for more.

http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/events/13087/Mojo-Juju-the-Ellis-Collective-the-Andi--George-Band-MrFibby-Transit-Bar-23-240408.htm - Fasterlouder


"The Ellis Collective, The Understudy & A Disappointing Fireworks Display @ The Phoenix 22.11.08"

The Phoenix and The Lass O’Gowrie Hotel continue their passively collaborative ways; The Lass fostering bands, those bands then arriving at the Phoenix to wow us. This Saturday night it was courtesy of Canberra’s The Ellis Collective. Twice now I have seen the Ellis Collective perform alongside amazing bands from Newcastle - earlier in the year with Mojo Juju & the Snake Oil Merchants, now with The Understudy and A Disappointing Fireworks Display.

Canberra’s temperature had dropped substantially over the nights preceding the Phoenix shindig - it felt cold enough to snow as a small rugged up crowd warmed to the thunder of strings and the beer tuned voice of Matty Ellis. Outside the air made you feel bare-boned. Inside the Ellis Collective shifted you somewhere else in time to cry. Storytelling is the focus of the band, and Matty Ellis conveyed that you had better be listening. Then it was over too soon, the crowd returned to the cold with the strong smell of spilled beer and disinfectant lingering in the air.

Marching in after came the Understudy with some cold hard songs of dislocation and exploration of an alien world. Amusingly bitter and twisted views of all that is nice and good flowed from Pegs as the Understudy took the audience for a ride through melodramatic catharsis with a beautiful pop sensibility. A hymn for nice weather after the Ellis Collective, the Understudy gave up some of the splendour that Newcastle holds.

A Disappointing Fireworks Display with their amazing vocalist Georgie-Rose delivered tight drum driven music courtesy of Alex. Imagine Broken Social Scene shrunk and blended with the Brunettes. To quote one aural witness “It is intense”…Blink… The Phoenix crowd certainly didn’t, fixed intently on ADFD. The crowd was entranced by the lead singer as the band played their way through an eclectic and experimental mix of music. Highlights included Architecture and Monster Theme. Talking with the band members revealed the drummer Alex as the creative force behind the band’s music. Having ascended from a successful band collapse, he described them as the anti-thesis of their last heavy incarnation. ADFD cite the Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, Nick Cave and Bronski Beat as inspiring their musical persuasion. For me, Kate Bush is most definitely there, but listening to their sampler give away I can hear an echo of more distant heritage - Talking Heads and the evolution of the Clash.

Newcastle keeps spawning these interesting and powerful bands – may they always find their way to Canberra and the Phoenix. The Understudy and A Disappointing Fireworks Display continue their east coast tour taking in the Espy and the Wesley-Ann in Melbourne, The Hopetoun in Sydney, the Troubadour in Brisbane, and The Lass and the View Factory in Newcastle.

http://www.culturazi.com/?p=1321 - Culturazi


"The Ellis Collective - Album Review: The Orange EP"

Band: The Ellis Collective

Album: Orange EP (2007 Independent)
Rating: (9/10)

The Ellis Collective, a folky community of some of Canberra’s best known and most well respected musicians, put out a quiet and unassuming EP last year to go along with their likewise nature, and managed to make it right up to the top of my favourite Canberran releases of 2007.

Lead singer and guitarist Matt Ellis has been kicking around the Canberra music scene for many years now, formerly a Gypsy Bar regular, but only really had the guts to get up and perform his self proclaimed ‘bloke-folk’ onstage in the last couple. He trooped around as a solo singer-songwriter for a while, more than happy to be just pushing his music out of his lungs and into the air. Drafting in the affable Alison Proctor (The Cashews) and multi-faceted drummer Dan Kempers (Fire On The Hill) to play and jam with him every now and then, Matt continued on his merry, relaxed way, playing the Phoenix and other such lonely local establishments. However, at the 2007 Folk Festival, he had a chance meet up with the now former members of local folk superstars One Night Jam, with vocalist Vorn Doolette moving onto supposedly greener pastures in Adelaide and taking his songs with him. Guitarist/vocalist Sam King, violinist/vocalist Emma Kelly and cello virtuoso Grahame Thompson found themselves suddenly without a frontman, and although that’s something that’s hardly a problem for these musical lifers, they immediately fell in love with Matt’s songs. After some solidly beer-fuelled rehearsals, Matty suddenly found his songs fleshed out larger than he ever imagined.

Four of the Ellis Collective’s catchiest, most heart-string-tugging-est songs have found their way onto the apparently self-titled, but wonderfully coloured, Orange EP. Originally pieced together only to have something to apply to folk festivals with, the opening ‘Forgotten Song’ breaks those shackles easily by the end of the first chorus. Dealing with personal topics of lost love and relationships, his song writing holds such an amazing maturity, that you’d swear Matt has been living and playing his music in venues and pubs across the world for years. His voice holds a certain timbre that makes his words sound wiser, well beyond his current number of years onstage. ‘Don’t Go’ soars with chilling beauty (Don’t go, stay saving my soul), accented so mournfully and chillingly by Emma’s violin. Adding a vocalist with each chorus, the song builds to a strangely sing-along ending, probably the saddest sing-along I’ve ever wanted to join in on. ‘7 Days Later’ shows the more traditional folk side of the EP, skipping along with stone-skimming melody (I can see you walking, just look how fast I’m talking, you take time and you get older. You believe the things I told ya.). Matt’s ‘bloke-folk’ tag surely refers to the “occa-ness” of his accent, which adds a calm innocence to his lyrics that makes you want to hear the next line urgently. Closing with ‘Uh-Oh’, a staccato-guitar’d acoustic pop tune, they leave you on a positive note with Emma and Grahame’s classical instruments urging you to see them nuzzle the necks of their strings on a stage somewhere soon.

The Orange EP is a prime example of the class that is held in Canberra’s quiet but active folk scene, and its’ performers show their ability to blend the sincere folk of the tunes with a myriad of styles and musical virtuosity. Go see them and buy Matt multiple beers. He’ll chat with you for hours.

http://the-riotact.com/?p=6607 - The Riot Act


"The National Folk Festival"

You wander around, accosted by children busking with tin whistles stuck up their noses, guys on stilts, and guys dressed up as Irish Setters. There’s a wide variety of eco-friendly stalls selling knitted hats. The smell of hot kransky, hot orange, and hot hippies wafts through the air. It’s the National. The Nash. Folkies. Whatever you choose to call it, it always turns out to be a weekend to not remember very well because you’ve drunk too much alcoholic ginger beer.

Friday was a red-letter day for not paying much attention because I wrote myself off Thursday night. Still, I managed to drag myself to the Marquee to see Kate Burke and Ruth Hazelton play, and Thank Christ Who Died For Our Sins that I did. Their pure harmonies are the perfect antidote to sour head and sour breath (although their wrenching version of The Wreck of the Dandenong is perhaps a little too cry-making for a hungover lass to handle.

Saturday was Disappointment Day (viz: Klezmer Connection, who had no accordion, and The Duhks, who were the big news of the Festival but who were as interesting as a mash-up of the Dixie Chicks and lame fiddle music can be) which luckily bled into Night of Awesome Radness (CYT’s HiJinx, then The Counterfeit Gypsies, The Crooked Fiddle Band and Dahahoo one after the other at the Mallee, a line-up which sent everyone into paroxysms of spaz-dancing fun).

Sunday I schlepped around the Festival trying madly to make up lost time by catching the last 20 minutes of every band at the Fitzroy, seeing some Unidentified Bush Poetry at the Budawang, and slurping down caffeine in an effort to stay awake. The Spooky Men’s Chorale were enjoyable as always, and Rory McLeod played some mean harmonica, while Truckstop Honeymoon lived up to every expectation of K-rad awesome bluegrass-country. The pick of the festival. Or at least one of them. The other was Canberra’s own The Ellis Collective. These bloke-folkies take the crown for local talent and top-shelf festival performances. I caught two of their sets and, though I’ve seen them play before around town, I was blown away afresh by the beauty and honest wit of their songs.

T’was a good festival. I can’t remember much, but what I do remember is sheer fun, virtuoso musicianship, and a lot of delicious cider.

http://www.bmamag.com/?p=265 - BMA Magazine


"Sam King & The Ellis Collective @ The Merry Muse 19.10.08"

The first folk club I ever went to was in Balmain.” It was above a shop, a dusty room of unpolished floorboards and tiny tables, with a small bar that sold dark red wine to a crowd of serious people who all seemed to know each other.” Being Balmain in the early 80’s it was probably just a front for the communist party.”

The White Eagle Club is operated by the Australian Polish Club and offers a far more salubrious venue in which to see a musical performance, without losing any of the homey and comfortable qualities necessary for a good folk venue.” And they sell very interesting beer.

But it was a largely”empty room I stepped into at 7.30pm last Friday.” Oh no, first again.” There goes that Virgo Ascendant.” I mentioned I had a complimentary ticket from loadedog, but I made a $5 donation anyway - ’support Canberra Music all you can’ is my motto.” While the band set-up I amused myself with practising my pronunciation of “ywiec and then by drinking some.” Very entertaining.

Then, in the dim auditorium, Sam King’s guitar caught the light off the spots, and the music began.” Sam looks at home on stage - as well he might with such an impressive CV”- and he engages the audience in a modest and self-effacing way that is very charming.” His songs have a misleading simplicity; a combination of polished and original guitar work, a good voice and lyrical veracity.” Humour, too, and it was a”smiling audience that greeted The Ellis Collective’s performance.

I like Matty Ellis:” his songs, his voice, and his enthusiasm.” During this performance I heard two phrases that sum up perfectly his persona and his musical style:” they are, respectively, the tasteful bogan and bloke folk.

Matty gave a long introduction, full of his customary warmth, until Sam asked him if he was ready to shut up, and I heard the familiar songs come to life with the support of a truly wonderful band; the aforementioned virtuoso Sam King, Emma Kelly on a violin that dances around Matty and Sam’s”guitars; the sensitive Dan Kempers and his steady drums; and the indomitable Alison Proctor with her gorgeous harmonies and her cheeky accordion.

There’s a lot of authenticity to Matty’s songs, and as in all good music, the melody and words speak to each other:” there’s a lot of mood and even a little drama lurking beneath the blokey exterior.” Witness the lyric which perfectly describes the end-days of a relationship, “like a cheap hotel, full of things that scratch and bite”.

It was very easy to immerse myself in their performance; stories told by happy Australian gypsies, by turns sweet, melancholic, irreverent and unselfconscious.

Winning the lucky door prize (a fabulous pictorial tribute to the E.C. which I had the band autograph - it could be worth a fortune one day!) was the icing on the cake for me.” I left”on my bicycle and made my way back to Ainslie, with only a minor mishap and minimal bruising to show from the effects of the “ywiec.”

http://www.culturazi.com/?p=812 - Culturazi


Discography

'Carry' (LP) Release TBC 2013/14
'Means What It Means' (LP) Released July 2011
'Don't Go' (Single) released 2011'
'7 Days Later (Single)' released 2011
Means What It Means (Single)' released 2011

Photos

Bio

'Black Words' is the new single let loose from the lips of The Ellis Collective, the second release from their forthcoming album 'Carry'

 

'Black Words' is a sentiment that features heavily on their second album - a patchwork of emotion that recounts the sadness, sickness, love and indecision that weaves its way through the fabric of everyday Australian life.

 

On 'Black Words' the band introduces a carefully crafted dark and melancholic sound - a sound that is as emotive as it is difficult to characterise. 

 

While The Ellis Collective’s brutally honest take on Australian song writing is hard to pigeon hole, it has been described as:

 

  • 'an unplugged drones' - Jeff  Apter, The Sydney Morning Herald
  • 'a classic Australian sound' - Richard Kingsmill, Triple J
  • 'an acoustic roots slice of Australian Gothic’ - Chris Cobcroft, 4ZZZ Music Director

 

Descriptions aside, The Ellis Collective's unmistakeably Australian sound continues to resonate with audiences across the country.  After being 'Unearthed' by Triple J in 2011 the band have been lucky enough to find their way into the country’s most respected festivals including Groovin' The Moo, Woodford Music Festival and The National Folk Festival, sharing stages with some of the best in the biz including Architecture In Helsinki, Data Rock, House of Pain, Gotye and Washington.

 

  • 'one of the most intelligent, compelling and honest male singer/songwriters to emerge in a long while' – Megan Rowe - Rhythms Magazine
  • 'Emotive and gutsy... it takes our breath away' - BMA Magazine (Canberra)
  • 'Unflinchingly honest... raw and powerful songwriting' - Rave Magazine (Brisbane)

 

The second single ‘Black Words’ is off The Ellis Collective’s upcoming album ‘Carry’ and is released this July through iTunes and Bandcamp.