To say Lindsay Ell is a firecracker is an understatement. As suggested by her brand new single "Trippin' On Us," the lead-in to her yet-untitled debut record, the 24-year-old holds all her sass and grit in her voice. Co-written with two of her good friends, Vicky McGeHee and David Fanning, is not your typical love anthem. "We just wanted to go and write a song about love, that’s positive for once. It’s a little country, and it’s a little rock," Ell tells NashvilleGab.
The song samples many of her influences, including Jimi Hendrix, Chet Atkins and Keith Urban. "As a musician, I’ve been playing shows and gigs across town and the U.S. for the past 10 or 12 years. I’ve been waiting for so long to finally release something to radio," she says, breathing a sigh of relief.
On the song's music video, which has not been released, she promises that fans will absolutely love it. "We worked with Roman White," she reveals. "He’s done lots of videos for Carrie [Underwood] and Taylor [Swift]. He’s just so, so talented. I think we made something really beautiful."
"I never really acted before, but when we got the treatment, it was such an amazing idea. Roman makes such beautiful videos. We were like ‘well, let’s do this!’ It was my first stint at acting. I’m happy with how it turned out."
Previously, Ell had the opportunity of opening for Urban on a slew of dates. "He’s been one of my idols for a long time, given how he molds so perfectly the worlds of blues and country sometimes in his shows," she notes. "We were able to play a few shows with Keith, and I definitely hope that we can play more in the future. He’s such a sweetheart, too. What a good guy."
Ell has also had the chance of performing alongside legend Buddy Guy. "I was able to do a little bit of a Canadian tour with him. He invited me down to his club Legends in Chicago a couple times to play," she recalls. "The second night of the tour, I just wanted to say thank you to him. I just wanted to be like ‘Buddy, I appreciate you so much, love being out on the road with you.’ I guess he came a little early to see my set on the first night, because at the second show, I was by the merch table. I walked back to the dressing room and the guys in my band were like ‘Lindsay, we just met Buddy. He came to give us high fives.’ I was like ‘are you kidding me? I missed it,'" she laughs.
"Later on that night, the three of us are sitting side stage watching him," she continues. "He looks over and sees us and was like ‘how ‘bout that Lindsay Ell?’ Everybody claps. He’s like ‘I might have her out in a bit.’ We were like ‘what?’ and started looking at each other. I had no idea that he was going to do that."
"So, I got my guitar all rigged up and walked out onstage. He said ‘honey, we are in G.’ Those were the first words he said to me," she adds. The song they performed together? "Who's Gonna Fill Those Shoes," one of Guy's performances.
"The cool part about Buddy is he’s so humble in his demeanor, but when he takes up a guitar, it’s like he’s flipped a switch. He turns into an electric five-year-old boy and has all this energy. He’s jumping around stage and doing all these crazy guitar solos."
"For a guy that’s in his late 70s now, he is busy. You gotta give it to him," she says.
At just 13 years old, Ell began her pursuit of music. "I started working with Randy Bachman [of The Who]. Then, I just worked on a couple independent projects. I was still a young girl trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to say. Really, this [song] feels like my first record. It feels like my first day of school," she chuckles.
Being so young and trying to figure her musical chops out, Ell managed to have an incredibly supportive family, who was as musically included as she is. "My dad played guitar, mandolin and violin. My mom played piano, and my brother played guitar. We all are very musical," she says. "Music was just in our blood from the start, and so, it didn’t really bother them."
"However, in the car, I always needed it to be on a country station. I would throw a fit. Early on, my brother was into rap music — he loves country now. We would always fight on whatever the dial would land on."
"[At that age,] I was in the mindset that hard work pays off," she details, with a smirk. "I didn’t really have a life growing up. I spent most weekends in my bedroom with my guitar until all hours of the night. I loved playing shows; I would perform wherever I could. If there was a refrigerator door opening, I would be there. [laughs] I’ve kind of been a sponge everywhere I’ve been, you know."
Three years ago, the singer-songwriter made the trek to Nashville and quickly realized she needed to up her game. She explains, "The first time I came to town (three years ago), I was like ‘oh, that’s how you play guitar. Well, OK, I have a lot to learn then.’ It just keeps you humble, you know. I always try to surround myself with people who are better than me that can really show me how it’s done. They keep you on your toes and keep your grounded."
While her influences do include the likes of Atkins and Hendrix, Ell is quick to admit that her style is drawn from a vast collection of performers. "I hope it’s not cliche to say…but I was a huge Shania [Twain] fan. She was one of my idols. Dixie Chicks. Faith Hill, too. I knew every word to every single song."
Last fall, Ell landed a high-profile opening gig for The Band Perry for a slew of dates, kicking off in Europe and continuing until March. She recounts how the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came to fruition, "I first saw them perform when they opened for Keith Urban a couple years ago. I got to meet them briefly. Then, I went to see them again at the Riverside for July 4th in Nashville. I got to talk to them literally for about 15 minutes backstage."
"After that, they asked me ‘hey, do you want to come to Europe with us?’ I remember that day, pinching myself like ‘is this actually happening? This is crazy; this is crazy; this is crazy.’ Getting to tour with them for a month over in Europe was so amazing," she gushes.
Does she have a favorite Eurpoean city? Well, of course, she laughs, "Well, I’ll have to give you a couple. I’d love Paris. It was just so incredible. It was my first time, so I became the epitome of a tourist. I was taking pictures of everything. I also loved Germany…Munich and Cologne were so beautiful, so much history and the country music fans over there are crazy."
She adds, "They just love country music so much. It comes to the point when you get to the second chorus and they are already singing along."
Not everyone is equipped for a life on the road, but Ell promises that it was always in her nature: "I love sleeping on a bus. I love sleeping in a bunk. I just really am used to the routine of being on the road, you know. It’s almost to the point when I’m home, it doesn’t feel natural. It’s kind of the opposite."
Of course, being a female, there is a higher barrier to entry in the business. "Being a female in this industry, as we both know, is a challenge, for sure, especially up and coming ones, to boot," she says. "I never let myself get intimidated by it. I look at is more of a challenge and accept the task. It is what it is and know that I’m going to have to work a little harder and put in those extra hours."
"At the end of the day, I love it. It’s so rewarding to get that feeling from fans or that response from certain things."
Ell doesn't let the uphill climb stop her. In fact, she's expecting to release her officiall debut record — previously, she released two independent records "Alone" and "Consider This" — this fall. "We don’t have an official release date yet, but I’m expecting hopefully in the fall. I’m hoping for around September," she teases.
"We’ve cut half of it already, and I’ll be going back into the studio in March, probably, to record the rest. Now, it’s about narrowing down the list of songs that I want on it. We’ll see what makes the cut."
Even being a songwriter herself, she admits that she's "definitely open for outside cuts, especially In a town with so many amazing songwriters. I’d be crazy not to be. I’ve written or co-written everything we’ve cut so far. I love that as a songwriter, you can really mold the record that you want to make and say what you wanna say."
Photo Courtesy of Stoney Creek Records