With this song, the writing process was a bit different from my usual way of doing things. (...) I was able to conjure up imagery based around lights in a big city, and it just so happened that 'Piccadilly Circus' featured and I then built my story around that. The sentiment is based upon personal experiences but the detail somewhat borrowed. I think it fuses well to create a unique and special narrative.
Marie: Tell me more about how did you start out as an artist - how and when did it begin?
Elliot: My journey began when I was made redundant from my job at HMV. I had been performing for a couple of years at Open Mics and compiling a few original songs when I thought it was about time I knuckled down and started to take it seriously so I bought a stage piano and set out to make it my career. The same day I was told I was being made redundant, so I took it as a sign, took my redundancy money, my piano and set off for a career in music!
Marie: Tell me more about the new single - the recording process, who produced/engineered it and if they have any other successes?
Elliot: The new single 'Lights of Piccadilly' is one of my personal favourites from the album 'Lanes'. It is a slightly different approach to the one I have traditionally taken and more driven by the guitars - electric and acoustic. It is still a story based acoustic song, but it packs a bit more of a punch when it gets going and is a different arrangement to many of my other songs.
It was produced and engineered by Dave Gerard and features Alex Reeves (Elbow) on drums. I play most of the other instruments apart from Electric Guitar - Charlie Morton and Bass - Dan Rogers(Unthanks). Dave has considerable success from his time as 'Gerard and the Watchmen' and is now a songwriter/producer working in the industry for the likes of Universal and EMI etc. Alex on drums needs no introduction as Elbow are a top band!
The recording process was similar to many of my projects, starting off with a demo and then slowly piecing together the arrangement and layering different sounds. We had more time with all the album songs than usual as we wanted to get the right sound, so we were able to experiment with synths and different guitar sounds. I am very happy with how this one turned out. It captures the essence of what I was going for.
Marie: What is the single inspired by? What is the story behind it?
Elliot: Broadly speaking, it is a song about a blossoming love affair in a city (London). London features very heavily in the imagery and in the video, produced by Dan Lumley, we captured landmarks and things like the Red Buses/Christmas lights.
It also deals with my feelings about living in and around London for a short period, which again can be equated to any major city in the world really - that feeling of needing to get away from the madness, but missing it and always wanting to return.
Marie: Tell me a little more about the writing process. Is it stream of consciousness type writing or more planned and thought out? Is there an underlining theme in your music?
Elliot: With this song, the writing process was a bit different from my usual way of doing things. I am usually a stream of consciousness writer, but with this one I was with a collaborator and we were trying a different writing exercise.
Basically you take a story, in this case an article from a newspaper magazine which was about cycling in a city or something and you delete words to create your own story. From doing this I was able to conjure up imagery based around lights in a big city, and it just so happened that 'Piccadilly Circus' featured and I then built my story around that. The sentiment is based upon personal experiences but the detail somewhat borrowed. I think it fuses well to create a unique and special narrative.
Marie: Where was the new release written? How does place and time influence you and your writing process?
Elliot: This one was actually written in a cafe in Cambridge - another city I have lived in for a while and also studied in. I then finished it in London. Place and time is not always a big influence to be honest, but I do find a nice quiet London or Country pub on a winters day with an open fire helps! I also like to write abroad when I get the chance.
Marie: Were you listening or watching anything in particular quite a bit during the recording and writing process?
Elliot: During the writing process I was listening a lot to the likes of Bears Den and indie/folk artists like that so I guess that maybe shows in some of the production. But with this song, I find it hard to pinpoint a particular influence. During the recording process we often have a reference point but only at the start before we go in our own direction!
Marie: Do you think there is a perfect time and place to listen to the single, does it lend itself to a particular listening experience?
Elliot: Yes - everywhere! Haha
But seriously, I think this one works quite well in all places. If I was to pinpoint one or two I would say on a train, or walking through a park or a city because it moves around quite a bit.
Marie: If you could hope that your music inspires someone to do something, what would that be?
Elliot: I would hope that my music inspires people to feel something emotionally. Whether that is to smile or cry, I am happy with that because then I feel I have dome my job as a songwriter. I would hope this would inspire people to also check out London - a beautiful city and there is a nod to that in the video which myself and Dan have created.
If I can inspire people to write and enjoy music on any level as well, then that would also be a nice thought.
Marie: Tell me more about your musical influences? Are you hoping to achieve a certain sound or theme on your new release?
Elliot: My influences are far and wide, but I can pinpoint some artists in particular - Damien Rice, Ryan Adams, Neil Young, David Gray and The Beatles. I am also influenced by my musical family and other great artists who I am privileged to call friends.
With the overall release, I think it is a sound based on acoustic story telling, emotion and the odd country influence. I hope it is a journey people can enjoy and get something out of.
Marie: Tell me more about you and your successes as an artist?
Elliot: To date I have enjoyed a very fruitful career spanning two EP's, multiple singles and now this new Album 'Lanes'. I have also been lucky to be nominated for the NMG Awards in Cambridge for three years running and also enjoyed a number one of their unsigned chart.
Other particular highlights include plays from BBC Introducing Cambridge, getting played by Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2 and also playing the BBC Introducing stage at Green Meadows Festival.
Marie: What are your hobbies/interests outside of music? Anything else I should know about you?
Elliot: Outside of music I like to travel and read (I'm a terrible reader if I am not travelling so I try to travel as much as I can). I also have a keen interest in philosophy and I am a massive Arsenal fan, so I watch a lot of football when I get the chance.
Credit: John Turner Photography
Credit: Laurie Edwards-Ryer
Credit: Laurie Edwards-Ryer
New Single available to stream here: