Edward Burnett talks to New York singer Elle Sera about her roots, methods for song writing and upcoming projects
RnRR: Hiya, here we are and nice to meet you. Would you mind introducing yourself to the Rock n Roll Reports readers?
ELLE SERA: Hey y’all! I’m an indie-alternative singer-songwriter from Connecticut/New York. I like to span a few genres and float between acoustic and full productions.
RnRR: What made you first want to become a singer? And why did you settle on the indie-alternative genre instead of any other?
ELLE SERA: I was bitten by the bug at about 4 years old after seeing a local child’s production of Alice in Wonderland. I wanted to “do that” I exclaimed. The singer-songwriter in me took a stronger hold last my year of college. I’ve always played with styles and fusing my influences led me to writing that way. I enjoy exploration and expression in my music so I let the song lead me. I don’t fit in any one box so alternative/indie feels like a happy way to include all I do.
RnRR: Yes, the ‘jack of all trades’ musical attitude is evident in many of your songs. In particular, your single “Come On Down”, seems to both embody numerous styles including almost a country-esque vibe, as well as strong and powerful vocals. Tell us more about the song, what was behind the lyrics?
ELLE SERA: I had the bones of the song laid out and months later found myself in a mood on a plane and wrote it. First and only tune I’ve written on a plane so far. The song reaches into depression and not letting it consume you. Similarly with my next single “You” I had the outline of the tune and the mood struck me to go ahead and finish it. I didn’t know what it would be about, but I lived in the moment with the first line as the sun was peeking out from some clouds and then it came together quite easily.
RnRR: So when it comes to song writing, would you describe your policy as being spur of the moment?
ELLE SERA: I tend to be spur of the moment, yeah, I guess I could say that. I can have ramblings and strums that get catalogued for a future tune to come out of it. So there’s quite a list of voice memos in my phone!
RnRR: What are the benefits of doing it this way, do you feel it is this that helps to create that sense of true originality that is evidently present in your songs?
ELLE SERA: The benefit is that I have the ideas to return to and decide if I actually like the idea I started with. Being original is too complicated to figure out, but I try to write honestly, no matter the topic or tune and just write it. I don’t decide if it’s great or not; an original idea or not. I keep it easy and creative and connected to my heart and usually that connects with listeners. Thank you for thinking I’m original!
RnRR: That’s great to hear and to many, how music should be done. So tell us more about where you are from and where you live now and how that, if so, has inspired your music?
ELLE SERA: I grew up between Connecticut and NYC, having started to work professionally at about 8 yrs old in theatre, tv, film, radio, etc. NYC is a second home to me and having spent most of my life living there I’m a New Yorker at this point. However, I officially moved back to Connecticut a few years ago and love the change of pace. I partially did it for my last dog to have better quality of life when she was older. I feel being around nature more has inspired me differently than the city vibe and I’m loving it. The woods and the beach are huge for me to retreat to and I feel I connect deeper here right now.
RnRR: So let’s talk about the future then, both distant and close. For starters, there’s a new single entitled ‘You’ coming out soon. Tell us all about it and when we can expect to listen to it and what to expect?
ELLE SERA: Thank you and I love taking about what’s fresh and on the horizon. “You” will be out August 16th. It’s a fun summertime tune about opening up to love again. A bit more in my traditional singer-songwriter vein with hints of country in there. It’s off the upcoming EP: “Once Was”, all sponsored by Warm Audio. “You” has a video along with it also with Warm Audio’s support and filmed by Midtown Motion. I recorded it in Nashville with some excellent players and people. The full EP will be out this fall so stay tuned for more on that. It has 5 songs, one of which has already been released, “Beautiful Girl”.
RnRR: Exciting times indeed and along with this EP, can we expect a tour and some live gigs?
ELLE SERA: Working on it, fingers crossed! I’d likely hit Nashville, LA and northeast first. But I’m open to recommendations from listeners. Europe is always on my radar as well so I include it all in these big dreams. In the meantime I’m working on setting up some online shows to be sure I can share the acoustic flavor in a more immediate sense. The idea is to work in some afternoon as well as evening performances to get on everyone’s schedule.
RnRR: Well there you have it, a new EP and a tour in the works! It’s been a pleasure getting an insight into your song writing technique and geographical inspirations. All the best in your future ventures!
You can find out more about Elle, as well as information on upcoming shows via her website: http://www.elleseramusic.com
Edward Burnett chats to Australian gig photographer Deb Kloeden about her love for photography, festivals and the Aussie music scene
RnRR: So, first of all, nice to meet you Deb, would you mind introducing yourself and your profession to our readers?
DEB: Hi, my name is Deb and I am an Australian concert photographer, based in Adelaide & Melbourne. I go by the name of debkloedenphotography.
RnRR: So how did you first get into the job you do. Was it always gigs and concerts you photographed?
DEB: I studied photography as part of my Fine Arts course when training to be a teacher back in the days of film. I cut my concert photography teeth shooting friends in local bands in rural Mt Gambier, South Australia in my early 20s. After years of teaching Art, Photography and Graphic Design, I decided to leave the teaching game and follow my dream of becoming a concert photographer. I started shooting from the crowd at concerts and festivals and also joined an online concert photography group, quickly making new friends & contacts who invited me to use their publications to help get a start in the industry. I now work for 3 online media outlets, providing concert photography galleries and sometimes reviews.
RnRR: Very impressive, especially when starting off in the dissimilar profession of teaching. What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of your job? The aspect that encourages you to stick at it?
DEB: I love music and photography, so this is a dream job for me. I love discovering new artists and love the reward I get from followers who like my work. I always try to improve the quality of my photos & learn to use my cameras better in concert conditions. I love going to concerts and festivals for free (complimentary tickets / photo passes). Sometimes I get paid to do what I love doing best.
RnRR: Now, you’re based in Australia. How would you describe the Australian music scene? Lively? Up-and-coming?
DEB: The Australian music scene is very active. We have concerts and festivals all year round. There is an amazing amount of new talent coming on the scene regularly from all genres of music. Naturally our capital cities are the places to go for the best music, but some of our bigger regional centres also attract touring bands & local musicians. We hold some of the best festivals in the world, which attract incredible international artists. Our weather is very favourable for outdoor events. Our national ABC radio station, Triple J, promotes new music through their ‘Unearthed’ program. This is often how up-and-coming musicians get their lucky break.
RnRR: Initiatives such as ‘Unearthed’ are starting to pop up throughout the globe such as ‘BBC Introducing’ in the UK and, as you say, they are a great way for artists to get discovered. Now for the main question that everyone will want to know the answer to. In your time, you’ve attended and photographed countless gigs but what was the best gig you’ve ever been to?
DEB: I love shooting festivals, and my favourites are Byron Bay Bluesfest, Splendour In The Grass and Womadelaide. You get to see so many ‘big name’ artists all at the one event. Sound & lighting as always very good. I shoot these festivals each year. But my highlight gig shoot would have to be Roger Waters from Pink Floyd. I used to be a huge Pink Floyd fan in my younger days, so to earn the honour of photographing his concert in Adelaide last year was definitely a bucket list item crossed off. The whole show was amazing with so many huge props & visuals.
RnRR: Finally, what are your plans for the future? What gigs do you have lined up?
DEB: Next weekend I’m shooting The Melbourne Guitar Show, a 2 day event which showcases some of Australia’s finest guitarists. I have also applied for several other gigs in Adelaide during August, but I’m still waiting for approval. The next festival on my calendar is The Queenscliff Music Festival (Victoria) held in late November. I have just returned from Splendour In The Grass (Byron Bay) and am still buzzing!
RnRR: A very busy schedule then indeed! Well all the best in your future photography and thank you for this great insight into the gig scene through the lens of a concert photographer.
You can find out more about Deb and view her photography via her social media channels, as well as her website: https://www.debkloedenphotography.com
Edward Burnett discusses music, pizza and Liverpool life with Ormskirk indie-pop artist Charity Shop Pop
RnRR: So, here we are, very nice to meet you. Would you mind introducing yourself and what you do to our readers?
CHARITY SHOP POP: Hey, I’m Charity Shop Pop and I’m a bedroom indie-pop solo artist from Ormskirk (it’s near Liverpool).
RnRR: Starting off, what inspired you to write and produce music? Liverpool is obviously a famed location for producing artists, such as The Beatles, Wombats and Miles Kane, among others. Were any of these acts an inspiration to you personally?
CHARITY SHOP POP: I don’t really know to be honest, I’ve always loved listening to music, like, the music I listen to I feel expresses who I am, so I think it was just wanting to express myself. I’d say artist wise, it was more artists outside the city like The 1975 that inspired me a lot, others like Jaws and Swim Deep. A few round here I’m influenced by are Spinn and Paris Youth Foundation.
RnRR: That’s intriguing as, upon first listening, your music did remind me a lot of jaws and especially their track Gold. These light and soft vocals which are used a lot in your songs are also similar to those of Sundara Karma. One song which arguably shows this a lot is your single “Always You”. What was your inspiration for this song in particular, is it a personal story for you or a love song for others to connect to?
CHARITY SHOP POP: I’ve gotten that Jaws link before, quite weird when they were probably the biggest inspiration for my first set of tunes. Always You was about my girlfriend at the time, and just about my feelings towards her, how amazing she was and what she meant to me. However, the meaning changed and after that it was over to be about my feelings towards pizza, especially pepperoni.
RnRR: Pizza is always a good way to mend a broken heart. What’s your favourite flavour and do you consider it acceptable behaviour to eat pizza with pineapple on it?
CHARITY SHOP POP: Well, it was pepperoni, but I’m kind of going through a veggie phase at the moment, so anything that is veggie, no mushrooms though. I am partial to a bit of pineapple on pizza to be honest, I think the sweet and savoury mix does work well!
RnRR: Glad to hear it, not a fan of mushrooms myself either. So while we’re on a break from talking music, tell us about your home. What’s it like living in Ormskirk and more largely, Liverpool? Has this enhanced your want to make it as a musician, living in such a vibrant city of culture?
CHARITY SHOP POP: Ormskirk’s a small market town, not really a lot going on at all to be honest. Liverpool on the other hand, it’s amazing. Before I was doing music myself, I’d always be in town for gigs, soaking it up and dreaming of being on the stage. It’s definitely given me more confidence in doing what I’m doing, like, the amount of quality acts playing in Liverpool today is incredible, so it’s quite humbling to be a part of that.
RnRR: It’s so great to hear that and see how the music community in Liverpool continues to give out so much talent. Talking of which, let’s talk about your new single “Crazy About Her”. This is a great little upbeat tune which fast paced demeanour could be likened to Scouting For Girls. Now tell us more about this recent release?
CHARITY SHOP POP: Yeah, it’s got a weird drum beat that has quite a dance feel to it, some people have said it’s like disco pop in that essence. It’s actually quite an old song though, I wrote it back in 2017, about the same girl as before, the old version (Gold) is on Spotify so you can compare, but I got the opportunity to re-record it and so here we are. I’m quite a fan of cheesy pop songs, so I wanted the lyrics to be true, but cheesy, and I think it worked, haha. It’s a fun song to play live, gets people going.
RnRR: Yes that’s very imaginable, it’s not too heavy at all like your whole catalogue of music so that is always a plus when trying to get that balance between the cheesiness and getting the crowds going. So finally, what can we expect from you in the coming year? Any plans yet for a full debut album? Where are you gigging? What are your plans?
CHARITY SHOP POP: Recorded a new track, people that know my live set will know it already and will love it! Going to write some more tunes like that one, maybe get an EP out before the end of the year, I’m not sure, we’ll see how it work. Gig wise, I’m playing a festival in Ormskirk at the beginning of August, after that I have got plans, but can’t announce them yet, so watch this space. A music video for Crazy About Her will be out soon, with more links to pizza, so everyone will enjoy that.
RnRR: Great stuff, it has been a pleasure chatting to you and getting an insight into Charity Shop Pop! All the best for the future- we will be sure to update the page with latest updates on new releases.
You can find out more about Charity Shop Pop including the brand new music video for "Crazy About Her" via his website at https://www.charityshoppop.co.uk