Elliott Morris has a formidable reputation as one of the hardest-working and most sought-after young artists on the acoustic scene, touted by Acoustic Magazine as ‘The Next Big Thing’ for his unique, percussive techniques and original songs, combining elements of folk, roots, blues, jazz and country. Over the last few years Elliott has supported a seemingly endless list of artists including Andy McKee, Frank Turner, Seth Lakeman, Albert Lee, The Levellers, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, The Joy Formidable, Roddy Woomble and Mark Morriss, as well as being joined on stage by Ed Sheeran. We spoke to Elliott as he climbs over halfway towards his target to fund the release of his second album.
1. Welcome back for campaign number two! We’re delighted to have you back but what made you return for your second album? Did you get a lot out of the previous campaign?
I had a blast working on my debut album with PledgeMusic, and I’m delighted to do so again for this one! The way PledgeMusic allows me to connect with my audience to work together on a project is incredible. Having folk with you all the way is a great way to work, as you can constantly share snippets, ideas etc, both as a bit of a tease, but also in order to get some feedback before stuff gets serious!
2. You’ve managed to cultivate a fantastically engaged fanbase, and you’re still very early in your career. What tips could you give other musicians to do the same and is it difficult to maintain?
Gig and write as much as you can! The only way you can refine what you’re doing is by doing it…. a lot! And there’s no substitute for a good song or an entertaining performance. Write a bunch of songs and gig them, and you’ll know if they’re any good by the audience reaction!
3. You’re a great example of how an independent musician can make great strides in an often difficult industry. What are some of the struggles that you face? Do you see yourself taking the traditional path of signing to a label and management eventually?
Not necessarily. I’d never rule it out – there are deals out there that can really help musicians on their way. But not being signed to a management or label gives me a lot of freedom. It means I can write what I want, sound however I like and gig where and when I want to. This obviously comes at a price – but that’s where my audience with PledgeMusic come in! It’s hard as an independent musician to find that money up front to invest in studio sessions, CD printing costs etc. But crowdfunding means that people who like what you do can get involved so you can keep doing it. And it is stressful running a campaign and wondering how you’ll get on – but my lot haven’t failed me yet! I can’t describe how much of a wonderful feeling it is having others believe in my music as much as I do. I couldn’t imagine doing it in any other way.
4. You went on a UK tour after the last album and to Canada too! How has that journey and the musicians you met along the way influenced the new album?
This album again includes Jack Carrack on drums and my brother Bevan on bass. Working as a trio with them has really helped mould my songwriting. I’ve been influenced to play off them more. Although I am a ‘solo artist’, working with those two has meant that I can write a song that works both on my own, but also gives them a nice big canvas to put their stamp on when we’re together. And I hope that the album will reflect that too. I know it’s a silly phrase, but they’re both very ‘musical’ players – they know how to ‘serve a song’ and play what’s needed, but they are also very capable of coming out with an awesome fill or groove, and I feel very lucky (most of the time) to be related to one of them, and to have forged a friendship based on bands, beards and beers with the other.
I also have a few guest appearances on this album, including Rosie Hood from The Dovetail Trio and Stu Hanna from Megson. I’ve known both of them from numerous folk festivals, so it’s been really fun working together on new tracks and I can’t wait for folk to hear them!
5. What other services do you make use of as an indie artist that you could recommend to some of your fellow PledgeMusic artists?
I host my music through Emubabnds, a wicked digital distributor based in Scotland. Great guys and a great platform. And BBC Introducing. They’ve been a huge supporter of my music over the years. I always make sure I upload my new tracks to them. I think every track from ‘Lost & Found’ got played on BBC Radio, local shows to the big ones – even Gaelic BBC station ‘BBC Radio Nan Gàidheal’ and BBC 6 Music! Tom Robinson at 6 Music even played the two instrumentals ‘Lost’ and ‘Found’ back to back. I hadn’t even thought to do that!
6. You’ve decided to sell one of your Tanglewood guitars as part of the campaign, which must be a difficult thing to part with. Where’s that been with you so far and can we hear it on any tracks that you’ve already put out?
If you know any of my (VERY) back catalogue, you’ll have heard it on a lot of my early EP tracks. I had two Tanglewoods that went with me to all my early gigs, and I’ve played some very special shows on them. One of them I sold to my brother, so it’s staying in the family. The other one I’ve decided to put up on here. It was a wonderful companion, but I’m sure there’s another family for it to go and live with now! I may even play it on the record if it sells and the buyer wants us to. We could even sign it in the studio!
7. What are you most excited about with the new album? Are you eagerly anticipating just getting it out there to fans or are you enjoying the journey for the moment?
With ‘Lost & Found’ I had no idea what to expect. The Pledge campaign was stressful – wondering if I’d reach my target etc! I constantly had a tiny voice in the back of my head asking me if people would like the album. No – that voice wasn’t my brother…! But as soon as we got in the studio with Mattie and it all started taking shape it sounded great, and at that point, I guess I could breathe a sigh of relief! So this time I’m way more relaxed and ready to enjoy the journey.
I’m really excited by the range of sounds in the new songs and having a bit of a play with the other musicians to see how they end up. It’s all very exciting at this stage because all the songs are there, but things aren’t fully set in stone. I love that about this stage, I have a good idea of how everything will come out, and yet some things are still developing or evolving.
8. Finally, what’s the future hold for you? Once the album’s out, what can we look forward to from you? Another tour? Back in the studio? Or something new?!
Definitely more gigs – solo, duo and trio shows. And maybe even bigger ones! I also already have some ideas for a future project, but I think one thing at a time is probably best! There’ll hopefully be a lot more online content in the works as well, some collaboration videos and sessions. But let’s get this album made first!!
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