Over the past year, your Soundcloud may have algorithymed an Ella Vos tune across your feed. Ella has released a slur of singles and even today the "Down In Flames" (Amazon Original) acoustic music video arrived on VEVO. Whether it was one of her collaborations with mega-producer R3hab or her soft, elegant "In Your Corner," most people have heard the pixie voice of Ella Vos whether they realised it or not. She's risen quickly, and she's risen to the top, but that's all a result of her message and artist identity.
On November 17th, Ella will independently release her debut album titled Words I Never Said. This album came to fruition after a lengthy and trying 22 months of deep reflective thought. EARMILK was able to chat with Ella a few weeks ago about her upcoming album, her plans for the future, and how she creates her intimate sound.
Ella publicises time and time again that her songwriting career began with her pregnancy of her now two-year old son. I wondered if she had planned on being a musician before then or if her pregnancy brought on a divine inspiration.
"Well I grew up playing piano and then in college I started playing in different bands. That's when I wanted to learn how to write music. I've always been writing for myself, but not very seriously. Whenever I was in these bands though, I would never consider myself a songwriter - I was more of a hired musician. I realise now that I was too insecure to pursue songwriting. I was terrified to show my feelings through music so when I would write it wasn't very honest. I wasn't really saying what I wanted to say." Ironically now, Ella Vos has become a fan favourite for her raw, emotional lyrics that sincerely express her feelings at various moments in time. When you listen to the album track by track, you can create a timeline of thought and feeling across the 22 months that she shaped her art.
"When I was pregnant, everything in my life simplified somewhat. I felt more fearless. I felt that I needed to go for it because life moves quickly, and honestly why wouldn't I do this? I wanted to start making the life that I always wanted to have."
You can tell from Ella's album that she turns darkness into beauty often. Many of her songs described frustrating relationships and introspective anger. Ella's first released single "White Noise" depicts a low moment for her; one where she wishes for any situation that wasn't her own. She feels swallowed by white noise, a sound that is meant to calm not irritate.
The album title Words I Never Said definitely strikes a chord; it forces you to think about all the times of regret for not speaking your true feelings. People can release their regret through different channels, but Ella Vos chose songwriting. "One of the defining moments when I realised I needed to be honest with my feelings in songwriting was after I wrote "Little Brother." Before that I never would have spoken to my brother about how I had felt. After I had written it, I couldn't avoid talking to my brother any longer. I just wanted to say that I really care about you even if I don't show it all the time. After that great experience, it was almost addicting to put all of my feelings into these songs."
"I used to be afraid that songwriting would feel selfish and really focused on me. Now I hear stories from strangers about how songs have helped them with anxiety and depression, which made me recognise that it's really for everyone; it's to help people feel together. I could go on and on about the messages and stories from people just telling me all about their lives. I think because I'm so open, they feel that they can be too."
If Ella Vos is anything, it is open. Her craft is uncanny from the tumbling synths to the iridescent piano accompaniment. The lyrics and the melodies swirl together to place you comfortably within her space all while keeping a mirror on your own perceptions.
Although the art of the album is dying a slow and painful death, Ella Vos seemed to design a cohesive and unique work. Each song can stand defiantly alone, but collectively they carry more purpose.
"I was writing each song without even attempting to design an album. I didn't even realise how the songs connected to each other, until my first try placing them together on an album. There just seemed to be a natural flow with a beginning, a middle, and an end without me having to overthink it."
Natural embodies Words I Never Said; the album flows like a river and when you reach the gulf you're both rejuvenated and disappointed that they journey has ended.
"You Don't Know About Me" tells a slightly different story than the rest of the album. "It was different because I wasn't writing about a personal relationship, but more about my relationship with the world and being a woman. The hardest part about writing that song was because I wasn't writing only about myself. I kept coming back to that in my head, but also an inspiring and encouraging aspect of the songwriting. These were feelings I had my whole life, but now was finally time to say it."
The music video for "You Don't Know About Me" portrays undressed women with various statements written along their body. They convey messages circling the conversations of sexual assault, reproductive health, and other women's issues that continue to arise within political discourse today. Among all the video's simplicity, an immense wave of power emits from the images.
"It's not about me, it's about the song. It's about saying how I feel, and about opening up communication."
As mentioned in the feature title, Ella is a force to be reckoned with. She's a grounded artist who has a clear purpose for molding the music she does. Her synth-pop lullabies are refreshing, intriguing, and can soundtrack most of life's moments. Mark your calendars for Words I Never Said available next Friday, November 17th.
Photo by Joanna Rentz