We are almost at the halfway point of 2023 and some of us are wondering where the year went, while others are looking back at their achievements and wondering how they did so much in such a short period of time.
Ella Hooper is the latter after releasing her second solo album Small Town Temple, topping the ARIA Charts, touring her album, and setting off on the Way Out West Tour with James Reyne. We spoke with Ella about COVID-19, healing and feeling through music, and of course her second tour of the year.
First of all, we wanted to know what her secret was. Surely, she has some kind of superpower helping her achieve so many great things in one six-month period. Alas, there is no secret – Ella tells us she is making up for lost time.
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“Does it look like somebody post-COVID trying to make up for lost time? Everyone’s just scrambling. Every musician I know is working so hard to regain ground or build something new. It’s a crazy time for us but it just has to be that way. You know what? I love it! So yes, it’s been a huge year, but I kind of don’t really want to be doing anything else either, so I’m cool with it.”
“I think everyone’s in a similar mood to just sort of live in the moment and buy the shoes, so to speak. You know, eat the cake, buy the shoes, buy the tickets, let’s do it.”
Ella started working on her new record before COVID-19, not yet knowing that it would be Small Town Temple. She said she was too busy to get into the flow and had trouble finishing her songs. COVID-19 afforded her the time to slow down and put pen to paper. Within 6 months Small Town Temple was a fully realised vision waiting for lockdown to end.
Ella describes the album as her healing process. Small Town Temple is a love letter to her hometown Violet Town, as well as a profoundly personal expression of family, friendship and her younger self. Ella took us through why she found writing this album so freeing.
“I think it’s like a form of self-therapy when you write it down and you sing it and you commit to sort of analysing your feelings it really helps. A psychologist told me to let the subconscious know that you’re listening to it, whether that’s through journaling or meditation, or writing down your dreams. For me it’s songwriting. It lets your inner, inner person that’s deep, stuck in there that doesn’t always show its face day-to-day. know that you are aware of it, know that you’re listening and that you sort of care.”
Sharing her true self with the audience has been a turning point in her career. Knowing that the audience relates to the most vulnerable parts of her is freeing.
‘I enjoy getting vulnerable and feeling that intensity because you know we just rush around and we do so much sort of humdrum, day-to-day shit. It’s a real privilege to sort of get intense with people and feel your feelings. So part of me just loves that even though it’s intense. The feedback is incredible, it’s actually never been better in my whole career. Like people are really responding to these songs, maybe because they are so honest. Or I’m, you know, I’m sharing a lot more of who I really am.”
In contrast to the emotional side of things, Ella also describes touring as her joy and her life. After getting a little bit teary talking through the album and what it means to people, we were able to segway into the Way Out West tour.
“I think I’ve always just loved performing and I’ve loved you know the joy that that brings to other people, or all the tears. I’ll take either; I’ll take laughter, I’ll take tears as long as they’re feeling something. I feel really like I’ve got a reason for being basically. So yeah, it’s such an amazing job and it’s a hard job.”
The Way Out West Tour was rescheduled earlier this year after James Reyne who is headlining alongside Ella broke his ankle. When we spoke with Ella she was keen to get the show on the road.
“I’m itching! I mean, I saw James this morning as I was doing promo and we both agreed that it’s about time! We’re just really looking forward to having some fun and hopefully we will stay safe and not fall off anything or do anything too risky the whole time we’re out there.” Ella then added that when she finally sees James on the tour they are going to “high-five like nobody’s business”.
Ella guarantees a high level and classy night of music. Speaking of James Reyne and herself she said “we’re both into the classics, we both love incredible musicianship, and the musicians are just amazing. The songs are good! You know, they’re just good quality. We’re not really relying on trends, and we’re not trying to be hip or cool. Do you want to know that you’re gonna have an awesome night of really high-quality music? If the answer is yes, this is the gig for you!”
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