Mick Mercer’s show – Almost Anglo Saxon track – another play!

What a lovely surprise to find that Mick Mercer played another track from Almost Anglo Saxon on his show!

Mick Mercer - check out his radio show

Mick Mercer – check out his radio show

I was gobsmacked that he played The Ballad of St Margaret – although I had already clocked that Spon seemed to like this track.

Mick Mercer’s Radio Show Here
I had written this song as I discovered that Margaret was a genuine Saxon princess and her family were invited to continue the Anglo Saxon line of English royalty. Needless to say 1066 was not a good year to turn up. She fled with her mother and ended up in Scotland as her ship was blown off course.

The tale becomes a love story as the Scottish king fell in love with her and she became Queen of Scotland. As she was a very religious Christian I wrote the song as a sort of hymn. I wanted to tell this Anglo Saxon woman’s story as she was greatly loved in her own lifetime and beyond.

I feel very honored to have my work appreciated and played on Mick’s show. Almost Anglo Saxon really is a special project. I hope that the world will one day come to know and love it.

Buy Almost Anglo Saxon Here

New Interview with Ella Jo

Almost Anglo Saxon CD front cover1Starting 2015 – An Interview with Ella Jo about her New Album Almost Anglo Saxon

This year Ella Jo finished the long awaited album ‘Almost Anglo Saxon’ – this is what she said to Diamond Seeds:

“It was a very enjoyable project and a fantastic challenge to learn history, write songs relating to that history and produce an album that is musically credible as well as educational. History has never been so much fun and the research turned up some interesting facts. Choosing subjects like King Ethelred the Unready and the folk tale of Wayland Smithy, I wanted to tell the stories as the Anglo Saxons may have told them.

Reflecting on the material I realize that I was trying to stand in the shoes of those who witnessed historical moments in Anglo Saxon History, like a woman watching the ships land when the Vikings invaded in the song ‘Dragon Ships’. There was also moments when I allowed A modern point of view such as ‘The Hidden Hoard’. In ‘The Minstrel’s Song’ I wanted to embrace the place of music in culture and show how highly it was valued in the past.”

Who is this album for?

“Everyone. The idea was to create a collection of modern day folk songs, but I am from a pop influenced background so the songs strode off into their own directions. We experimented all the way through this project wanting to create something new, but recognizable. I suppose Pink Floyd worked in a similar way when they experimented with the technology of their time. The challenge was to write good authentic songs. One way of keeping true to the idea was to turn things around. If I travelled back in time would the Anglo Saxons approve of my material? Or if I could bring Anglo Saxon musicians into a modern day recording studio would they have performed songs like mine? These ideas set the standards – and on a spiritual level there was an underlying will to please the ancestors.
So I suppose I wrote this album for the Anglo Saxons and all of their descendents and for anyone curious to know about them. All cultures could gain some insight from this album. As a songwriter I looked at the history and added human elements such as irony or joy.”

How did you write the songs?

“I really don’t know. A silent room will eventually allow words or a tune to develop. Some of this album was easy to write once I tapped into the zone – I had ‘The Anglo Saxon Chronicles’ nearby and looked up stories on the net. I didn’t try too hard to make sophisticated songs – I was concerned with telling the stories – in my view that is what folk is.

Mel on Whistle!

Mel on Whistle!

Fiddlin Flick

Fiddlin Flick on ‘Ethelred The Unready Blues’

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was supported by some wonderful musicians who helped on various songs – it was a joy to record with Mel from Tarantism on Flute, Steve Kerr on Guitar, Ed Branch from UK Decay on Bass and Fiddlin Flick on violin. There was a lot of improvisation which was awesome – I loved giving the musicians freedom to interpret the songs, and as we were recording they could do as many takes as they liked. Working with Spon I knew that he would work this way and we would pick through takes and get the best out of everyone.”

Tell us about Steve Spon

Spon recording01

Steve Spon at the controls

“Well we made three albums already, and by the second one I had grown pretty comfortable with working with him as sound engineer. Almost Anglo Saxon was brand new work for both of us and we jumped on it. Spon is senior producer, so I got to work closely with him on the production. To be honest it was stress free – he has so much experience and understood what I was trying to do. He is also interested in Anglo Saxon history so he brought ideas and creative strengths to the project.”

Almost Anglo Saxon Available NowClick Here to purchase Almost Anglo Saxon, the CD Album by Ella Jo

What is different about Almost Anglo Saxon?
“Well technically it is a concept album. Only a few bars of music survive from those times a thousand years ago, but there is evidence of the instruments that they used. We have come so far with today’s technology that once I began to imagine sounds and atmospheres Spon was able to make up versions of my ideas. We twiddled and tweaked and allowed the feelings of the songs to transpire. So while I was tapping into ideas for mead hall songs, Spon would be out trying to record our local owl. I mean this album really is a testament to the saying that your world is as big as your imagination: for example, we made sounds by throwing cutlery around the kitchen and I clog danced on a wooden staircase in my heels…

I want everybody to relate to the subjects covered in this album, its not all heavy, although I couldn’t escape the fact that there was a lot of war and invasion going on. But there is ample opportunity to dance, and sing along. There is even a love song (‘Through the Eyes of an Eagle’). I tried to keep the lyrics historically correct on this album – I think people are sick of listening to bullshit pop. So it should appeal to anyone with some musical sophistication – and I have no doubt there are many out there who love history and music. So I think the album has a broad appeal.

I enjoyed the challenge of singing what I had created. There were moments when I had to trust to improvisation during the recording process, which is how I came up with the coda of ‘Ethelred The Unready Blues’. I was immersed in a song I had not written an ending for, and just found it – some things I will never understand. So Almost Anglo Saxon is a concept album, but is not contrived like commercial pop.”

Gig-wise?

“I thought I was a bit shaky this year – finding it hot when I performed in the summer, I was very out of practice. I think my best performance was on Xmas Eve – I filled in one song when Garry and Jenny had a break at their gig at the Bedford Arms in Souldrop. I hadn’t prepared anything, so I got the audience to clap along and sung ‘The Raggle-Taggle Gypsies’ which is an old favourite. It was a jam really, but I know all the words so I trusted the flavour of the occasion and went for it! It was a lot of fun entertaining the folks in my local pub!”

Trying to remember how to play on a stage again!

Trying to remember how to play on a stage again!

The Future
“I have a lot of catching up to do on guitar. I felt so much better just singing, perhaps I will find a guitarist who can accompany me to take Almost Anglo Saxon live into the pubs and clubs – I would love to take people on a trip into history!”

Click Here to purchase Almost Anglo Saxon only £10 plus p&p – straight from the manufacturers

Click here to learn more about Anglo Saxon history and it’s music

Almost Anglo Saxon by Ella Jo

 This is a concept album as I wanted to start a brand new project with completely new ideas. It is very satisfying to research a subject, write about it as poetry and then find a tune and craft a song. This is what ‘Almost Anglo Saxon’ has mainly been about.

I wanted to write some songs about Anglo Saxon life as I am interested in the history. Also I wanted to explore a more historical approach to making the music. Nothing remains of Anglo Saxon music. They had certain instruments that we can be sure of, but no one knows what type of music they were playing, and so this gave me the freedom to just write songs as I like to and not look to any particular influence. If a tune moved me and sat with me, I would use it if I was sure it was ‘original’ enough. I don’t listen to any folk music really so just followed what I thought sounded authentic and pretty simple. 

I like to think each song tells a story and gives some insight into the human condition all those years ago. Included on the album are tracks called: The Song of Wayland Smithy, The Hidden Hoard, Dragon Ships, Wassail The Night, Feel Love, Ethelred – The Unready Blues, The Ballard Of St Margaret, The Minstrel’s Song and Vortigern’s Surprise.

In an attempt to deconstruct what we understand as ‘music’ we have used our imagination to visualize what Anglo Saxon musicians may have been inspired by, with modern day recording techniques. Thus we have sampled wolves, owls and other birds. The wind, the sea, bells, anything that we feel is appropriate to the song. Yet I have also included things that please me – we are not Anglo Saxons – the ‘Almost’ in the title gave me permission to sense the songs from a modern perspective.

The aim of this project is to entertain and educate. This project is also a testament to the skill of the sound engineer, Steve Spon, and proof that a simple concept can be such a lot of fun and be well received by music lovers of all types.

Find out more about the Anglo Saxons, their music and instruments in the following link:

Click here to learn more about the subjects tackled in the songs:

This album is available straight from the suppliers – TEN Awe-inspiring  tracks price £10 plus postage and packing!

Click HERE to BUY ALMOST ANGLO SAXON

 Track List:

Swirling and Whirling – A song about women’s magic!

The Hidden Hoard – The story behind buried treasure

Ethelred The Unready Blues – The ruler who consistently got things wrong!

Minstrel’s Song – reflecting on the life of the entertainers in Anglo Saxon Times and their value to society

Wassail The Night With Mead – A joyous adventure into the folk life of long ago

Ballard Of St Margaret – the story of a real Anglo Saxon Princess

Vortigern’s Surprise – A song about the invasions of the Anglo Saxons

Through the Eyes of An Eagle – A simple love song, based on characters from far off days.

The Song of Wayland Smithy – About the ancient folk story of an imprisoned smith

Dragon Ships – A woman sings a song about the Viking invasion of the Anglo Saxons

Ella Jo At Diamond Seeds

Diamond Seeds are pleased to announce the hosting of Ella Jo’s albums on our site through our on line services.
Ella Jo's three albums signed to Diamond SeedsEJ has written and produced four albums to date, each with ten original songs. Limits Of Milkweed, Alter Ego, Attitude is Everything and Almost Anglo Saxon. These albums span the genres as she embraces neo folk to unapologetic popular music but also incorporates drum and bass grooves, acapella, and classic vibes of bond movie stature. All the songs are woven together with al fresco style singing and strong lyrics. The albums are enhanced by amusing sound-scapes, using interesting concepts and montaging techniques.

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