Hi I am Ella Jo. I have been singing my whole life. My fascination with the human voice was sparked off by Shirley Bassey. Hearing that Shirley had broken glass using her voice, I set out on a mission to emulate this feat of magic, at the age of eight.
Later, in my twenties, I met a guitarist and began a period of huge creativity. I was still too unsure to write songs, but gained confidence in singing and learning to express myself. Seven years with him was a true apprenticeship.
I moved around, briefly living in Exeter (Hi girlfriends!) and then Nottingham. I found a guitar and I learned how to play it. Then I went busking and worked on the songs that I knew from my band. Honing them over hours of busking. People in Nottingham are great. They paid my electric bill.
I got the wonder lust and worked it through over a few years. Then fate brought me home to a bloke I half knew. Spon was at a loose end – I tested him out – could he really work that computer thing? – and does a computer mean we have to make pop songs? He turned out to be fantastic. What a talented sound engineer! For a few years he was all mine and we worked so well together – producing three albums. He even understood when I had to run away to charge up my batteries in the middle of a project. I guess he must have needed a break too!
Looking back music was my therapy – from my early fascination of ‘sound projection’ to crafting my experiences into poetry. I have worked with some brilliant musicians – starting all those years ago with Terry Bartlett, a gifted poet, songwriter and an amazing guitarist (I still haven’t met anyone since who can play like him). To Spon who I would call a technical inventor of sound – from beats to song structure and everything in between. He has clear ideas and throws challenges at me which has stretched me – in a good way.
So I guess travelling through different experiences stabilized my outlook and I found some semblance of maturity. Would it affect my music? Well it has changed my songwriting I think. If I was hinting in my poetry before, I now tell it like it is.
So I got interested in historical music. Someone asked me if I was a folk singer and I was forced to think about it and thereupon hatched a plan.
I will be honest here and say that I am thoroughly cheesed off with the music bus. Once the fifth largest industry in the UK it is now nothing. I know tremendously talented people who struggle to do music. People who should be paid and respected. So cynicism has coloured me about music – and it showed in my performances in 2014 (unfortunately for the audiences). I was not really pleasing myself. I still don’t know where I really fit in. I am not a festy drunk wailer – I grew out of it. I wasn’t feeling it. Grew away from it. Recorded it, now wanted to leave it.
I did the best thing and stopped playing for a few months. Made that folk album and it isn’t like folk that much. Well a bit. What matters is it made me work and it made me laugh and has given me a bunch of new songs to swear over. Perhaps Almost Anglo Saxon saved my music career – it stopped me from throwing my guitar of the fire.
Spon was outstanding on this album. I stopped caring so much and let him get on with it. I am truly pleased with the result. If you are going to take a punt on me buy Almost Anglo Saxon – you wont have ever heard no songs like it before. Where else would you hear a song about British taxes, or people metal detecting?
Finally I am pleased to meld my performance skills with being a children’s writer. This has resulted in the production of audio books. ;Barney The Musical’ is nearly completed – I put in three songs and narrated it like a professional actor. I have two cousins who do acting and another one who is Luton’s version to Terry Wogan. Acting is in the blood. Spon has added fantastic sound effects and has discovered a side to me that he didn’t know existed. Comedy. I also have comedy. Its a shame my sister and I didn’t go into the biz as a double act. We would be millon hairs by now.
So in conclusion – running away at seventeen was the best thing I could have done. The internet has been a gift to me. Being an idiot gave me life experience which is songwriting material. Punk is not dead. Hippies are not dead. But the music industry is dead. So is the British public transport system pretty much. Because of this last fact I will continue making music and stories.
I just want to add that I got this far before I was fifty. Just.