Ella Frank is a London-based soul and jazz singer who I’ve been following for a little while now through appearances on albums such as Intalekt’s It Is What It Is and Richie Saps’ But Who Cares Anyway. Her soothing, angelic voice has been a quality I have admired by the young singer, and I was psyched to learn that she had a new project on the way. Sorrows Into Silk is actually her debut EP and it’s a real breath of fresh air.
With Charly on saxophone and Trevor on trumpet, the opening track “Lime” gives such incredible jazz-filled vibes, an a beautiful, ethereal tone created by Ella through her smoothing vocals. “Kettle,” the lead single is another wonderful track that features gorgeous saxophone and keys throughout, with Ella’s vocals really shining through again. Lyrics about love, sorrow and self-reflection are prevalent throughout this excellent project, but what strikes me is how beautifully layered the soundscape is throughout. Produced by Intalekt, R-Kay and Lester Duval, the EP is stunning to me. The highlight to me is “Luna,” which features some great additional vocals from E ^ R T H. The beat features some excellent guitar leads, and keys and synths that add so much soul. “Mountains,” is a soothing, slow-paced track, while “Able” features Seb Chedick on guitar, and it’s amazing. “Seeds,” the closing track is much more upbeat, with fantastic colourful production from Lester Duval. Overall, Ella Frank exceeds all expectations with this release, and I predict really big things from the wonderfully gifted singer.
I got a chance to ask Ella a few questions about her inspirations, creative process and future projects among other things. Read it below, but before that make sure you stream her new EP Sorrows Into Silk below via Spotify. Don’t forget to support!
Martin: I always like to start by learning about people’s influences, both in music and in life. I’d love to know when the first time was that you fell in love with music, and what inspired you to write and sing?
Ella: I’d say I’ve always been musically inclined. I’m quite fortunate to say the least, as my family love music. From a young age I was introduced to quite a variety of music. Being Turkish Cypriot, there was always a lot of Turkish music being played in the house and at family gatherings, but my parents are super eclectic and would listen to artists such as The Beatles, Gypsy Kings (super big deal at home, haha) T Rex, Joe Cocker, Slade, Bobby Marley, Stevie Wonder, Bonny M, Ray Charles (I could go on forever if I’m honest). My Siblings are quite a few years older than I am and so I got introduced to a lot of cool stuff through them – garage was also a big deal (I love garage with all my heart!). My sister was my biggest Jazz influence and introduced me to the likes of Thelonious Monk, Fats Waller, John Coltrane, and Charles Mingus, just to name a few. Watching her perform with her friends at Uni was probably when I first thought ‘I want to do that’. I started playing the piano and flute quite young, and joined the Orchestra at Redbridge Music School and was lucky enough to play alongside London Symphonic Orchestra. Singing wasn’t really my thing at first; I only really started thinking about singing when I started Uni, as I wasn’t studying anything music related, and so wanted to make sure I still held on to music – I didn’t start writing until the end of Uni.
Listening to your Sorrows Into Silk, I was immediately drawn to the the layered and textured sounds, both in terms of the instrumentals themselves and your gorgeous voice and personal lyrics. I have a few questions off the back of this – what was it like working with Intalekt, R-Kay and Lester Duval, and did they teach you anything in particular about music that struck you?
I feel I’m lucky with the people I have around me, a lot of the people who have worked on this project are friends! I love to try and have things sound as live as they possibly can and they all did this so well and capture what I wanted.
I’m super super comfortable working with Intalekt and R-Kay (maybe a bit too comfortable if I’m honest, haha! I can really be myself around them and not be afraid to say whether I like or dislike something; which wasn’t really the case for me prior to this project. I can be a total stress head around these two and bring out all elements of myself and they will still push me and support me (when I’m feeling really crappy and low in confidence they will tell me what it is, no sugar coating). A lot of what I know today, I’d give a lot of that credit to Intalekt – he’s extremely talented and I’m so lucky I get to pick his brain and learn so many things from him. Out of everyone, he pushes me the most! When working with R-Kay, at times it can be challenging writing to his work because of how full things sound when they’re given to you. I never want to potentially ruin something that already sounds amazing! But I enjoy working with him so much and the challenges he gives me and I have written one of my favourite songs on his own up and coming project. Collectively, I think the three of us bring out the best in each other and contribute some really good ideas to the work and it’s always fun.
Working with Lester Duval was actually quite scary for me! It was one of the first times I’d agreed to go to a session and work with a new producer. When I had arrived at his studio, I was super quiet and my biggest fears were starting to come true – what if I get to the session and can’t think of anything, he’s going to think this whole thing was a waste of time and that I’m rubbish! To my surprise – we got along so well and worked really well together! He started playing around with the guitar and I was shocked when he started writing too! We wrote Seeds together and recorded the whole song in the session. It was such a big moment for me and I’m super grateful I got to work with Lester – he’s extremely cool! And shattered my fears of working with new people!
Lyrically you seem to touch on quite a few personal themes of love, sorrow and healing. Would you say that the making of this album represented a therapeutic, healing session for you?
You know, I don’t think I knew what this project was for me until it was actually finished and I listened to the project for the first time and looked at the names. I could only really talk about what the project meant after it was done. I feel this is much like my writing style – I tend to go through an experience and then write about it, rather than write through an experience. I prefer to have more clarity in my emotions and know exactly what emotions I have felt during that experience; it gives me more room to play around with metaphors and lyrics that people have to think about and can pull more than one meaning from. So with this EP I can really say that subconsciously I was writing about things I had been through on a journey of self-discovery, that, I guess, hasn’t quite ended yet (maybe it won’t end). It has definitely helped put a lot of things into perspective, for sure.
Where did the title “Sorrows into Silk” originate from?
The title was something I found the hardest as I was scared I was never going to think of anything. It kind of just came to me – I called Intalekt straight away and I was like “I think i’ve got it” and as soon as I told him, he said “That’s it then, that’s definitely it”.
I feel it really does summarise the project well and not jus mine, but anyones journey. I think we get so caught up in things happening around us, especially the bad things; we forget that we have the power to turn even some of our worst moments into something beautiful. It’s really down to you – you can choose to wallow in the misery and cry until you can’t cry anymore (which is definitely something I’ve done), or you can decide to make a change and grow and use your experiences as lessons learned. You have the power!
The album cover to me is a beautiful metaphor for self-healing and the importance of purifying yourself in a way. My thoughts are that the bowl with water represents all your sorrows, through tears, and it’s sat between two silk covers that represent the two conflicting sides of a person’s character/state of mind. Would you say my theory is accurate, and how did the idea initially come about?
I like you’re theory a lot! And I’m super glad that you’ve managed to get all of that from the art work – my aim is to give people things to think about, regardless of if it is close to my own ideas or not.
The fishbowl full of water does represent my ‘sorrows’ and the silk fabrics do represent what they could become. When you look at the bowl you can see two reflections caused by myself sitting behind the bowl. These reflections, as well as myself, are representative of different phases of self and different tenses (past, present and future).
I also wanted to bring something forward that was super pretty and really aesthetically pleasing to the eye!
Are there any shoutouts you want to make towards people within your creative circle and the music scene in general?
I’ve never got to do a shout out before so this will be fun! There’s so many people!!
Absolutely massive shout out to Intalekt – he is the most amazing person I know and without him I wouldn’t be able to achieve half of what I have! To the Moon and back!
To everyone who has worked on the project: R-Kay, Lester Duval, Seb Chedick, E ^ R T H, Charly, Trevor, Kenan, Duane and Rich!! You guys are the coolest and you really exceeded my own expectations of what this project could be!
Adiktive, who mixed and mastered the project – thank you for putting up with all my picky requests! You’re the best!
Seinna – thank you for coming through when I needed you the most! Letting me use the studio, helping me record and bring new ideas to life! You always keep it real!
Sabodé, E ^ R T H and Soul Surge – thank you for your unconditional love and support!
My sister and brother in-law helped with all the visuals and art work – thank you for the late nights and continuously believing in me!
My family and The real homies!! Man, I am so so lucky to have every single one of you – the support over the years has been unimaginable and I feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world to have you all around me!
Okay I’m going to stop now haha!
Do you have any plans to perform live? I’d love to see you perform tracks like “Kettle,” “Luna” and “Seeds” live with a full band! If not I might have to put an event together for it soon 🙂
100% I’m super excited to perform again as I haven’t since I headlined Emerald Live September 2017. It’s been such a long time and so I’m super excited to perform new material. I can’t wait to perform Luna live with E ^ R T H (one of my favourites). Definitely a headline show in the cards – watch this space!
And finally, are you working on anything else at the moment or in the near future that you’d want to share now?
As this is my first project, it’s been quite hard to focus on anything else – but my aim is to get together with a bunch of new people and create new sounds and learn new things!
Thanks a lot for the music, it’s such a beautiful body of work and I wish you nothing but success moving forward.