Last week DJ, musician and producer Ellis Lawrie released his new tune “Start Over”, featuring vocals by American singer-songwriter Laura Brehm.
The Birmingham based artist started producing EDM in 2016 and has since built a credible name for himself within the genre. As well as making original tracks, he’s put out popular remixes including a rework of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”, which currently has 45 million plays on Youtube.
Now Ellis is taking his music in a different direction with a fresh new sound. “Start Over” symbolises the beginning of this transition (makes sense), acting as a foundation for new music lined up for the rest of the year.
We spoke to him about his evolution as an artist and what we should expect next.
Your new song with Laura Brehm’s called “Start Over”, what’s the story behind it?
I’ve always loved Laura Brehm’s vocal. I managed to get in contact with her through my management and we just got writing on this song together. It’s a bit darker than the stuff I usually make and it’s a bit deeper I guess. Also it’s called “Start Over” because we’re rebranding the whole Ellis project. We’ve literally just completely restarted the whole social media and everything. Also the vocalist herself is starting over as well – she’s just moved over to the UK, she’s from Colorado so it’s quite a way for her to come.
So new beginnings for both of you. What was the idea behind going for a new, darker sound?
I’m part of a band as well – when I started doing the electronic music I never really combined the two but I’m starting to experiment a little bit more now combining the sounds together. It’s very different and I just wanted to start something new really.
What’s is it like balancing band and solo life?
At the start it was really difficult because we were on tour twice in one year and I was taking my exams, and then I had the whole solo thing sort of kicking off a bit. But at the moment it’s OK, I do more of the solo stuff and we’re all really good mates anyway so we all get together and jam occasionally.
Have you always envisioned yourself as a solo artist or in a band?
No, I’ve never envisioned myself as a solo artist. I’ve always wanted to be in a band since I first got into music properly. The whole solo thing’s really interesting I think though, but I also love working as a group.
When did you first start writing and trying to do your own kind of stuff?
Probably about three years ago. We used to go in and out of the studio all the time as a band and I was just always really interested in what the guy was doing. He showed me some of the basics and I just wanted to learn how to record my bass into software and then put drums or something behind it. I had no idea that you could make an entire song just by yourself through a computer. So that’s just when I became obsessed with it.
What made you want to give it a go going solo?
I think just the fact that I have the creativity in my hands. Being in a band is great but not everyone agrees on everything.
Is it quite pressuring when it’s just you?
Yeah it is, but now I’ve got so many creative friends and we help each other out. I’ll play the bass on my mate’s track, he’ll play guitar on my track. You have to have more than one person on the track if you want to make it a good one is what I say.
So going back, when did you first get interested in music? Has it always kind of been a part of your life?
Yeah, it’s always been quite a main part. Like my dad, he’s never really been a musician as such, but he’s always been heavily into music and different sorts of sounds that not a lot of people listen to. So I’ve been brought up listening to a lot of that stuff. He actually had a bass that he bought from an old friend and I used to just play it at home, not knowing how it worked or anything. He taught me a few basic things and then I just started playing.
Who influences you musically?
A lot of different people. At the start it was a lot of EDM stuff like Martin Garrix and all of those people. But now I’m sort of combining those sounds that I’ve picked up from the early days of electronic music with the other stuff that I used to listen to, like all the bands. I used to love pop-punk and I also used to love a lot of the slower, chilled out stuff. There’s a group called Zero Seven, who are quite old now – I don’t even know if they’re still together – but they’re definitely a heavy influence on the way I make music.
Song writing wise, where do you pull inspiration for your lyrics?
Well, I’m not a big lyric writer to be honest, so I wouldn’t trust myself to write the lyrics but I do contribute. When I’m working with a vocalist on a track we always have a call and talk about the direction that we both want to take it. I find that always gives a better result instead of someone giving me a top line that’s already written and I just put a track behind it. It always gives a better outcome when you both work on it together and share each others’ influences.
Would there be a dream vocalist to work with, if you could pick anyone?
It depends. In the pop world Dua Lipa and Arianna Grande are massive right now and I love what they do. Musically, I always thought Sia was an insane vocalist and I just love the way she sings and the way she writes lyrics.
What are you working on now, do you have work in the pipeline?
Yeah there’s a lot of tracks ready to be released. The first one that comes out is “Start Over” obviously, that’s part of the whole new brand. Then there’s other ones that are finished and ready to go out and we’re just finishing up some new stuff.
Is there going to be an EP or an album, or just single releases at the moment?
I’m focusing on single releases at the minute, just building up a fan base. When I’ve got that fan base then I’ll definitely consider making an album. It might be worth releasing an EP with some of the stuff that’s coming out; three or four of the tracks are a bit different to the rest and an EP might be something that could happen in the near future.
What would you say is the “Ellis sound”?
At the moment it’s very energetic, club sounds. Not too heavy but stuff you can also listen to while you’re just chilling, having a few drinks. It’s got a bit of a funk influence. The new sound is a bit different so I’m excited to see how it goes.
Has it been a difficult transition?
Yeah, very difficult. Which is why we decided to start with this single as it’s like “Start Over”. And we’ve had to carefully lay out the releases so everything sort of does flow into each other.
Do you think previous fans will be confused?
I know that’s going to happen, but I’m just hoping that people will accept it. For people who genuinely like my music I hope they’ll just come along with the journey, the same journey that I’m going on I guess.
How do you want people to feel after they’ve listened to one of your songs?
A lot of people have said that comment about the music being quite emotional, even though there’s not always lyrics. And I don’t know how I’ve done that, but it seems to be something in the way I just write. So I think that’s definitely something that’s part of the sound.
And finally, what else have you got planned for the rest of the year?
We’re still vocalist hunting for this one track that we think is probably one of the best up and coming tunes in the pipeline. So we’re looking for a big vocal for that. We’re also looking to go more on the live end of things, because I don’t play a lot of shows at the minute and that’s something that I really want to do this year.