November 23rd, 2015
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girl's room ellie herring

After a summer spent churning out excellent remixes of her favorite artists (Painted Palms, Shy Girls, Rainy Milo), producer/goddess Ellie Herring is finally back to releasing her own material.

“Why’d You” and “Maze” are her two newest singles off her upcoming two-track EP. Equally suited for intricate headphone listening sessions as they are for the dancefloor, her dreamy synths,insistently  impressionistic beats and consistent homage to hip-hop propel listeners through an upbeat sonic roller coaster from start to finish.

“Why’d You” is arguably the grandest departure from her extensive catalog of earlier material; it’s noticeably more melodic and structured, and also marks the first time she sings on her on tracks, signaling a more intimate, constructed direction from the queen of acid beats. Is she getting bolder; more refined? Survey says yes.

I recently caught up with her to talk about her new EP and the progression from more abstract acid beats to her current territory of warmly melodic dance-ready singles. She even let me on some secrets from her Myst-inspired new video for “Why’d You,” how listening to white noise formulates her sound, dealing with anxiety, and the existential joy of her Mom experiencing her music on Soundcloud.

Check it out:

“Why’d You” has a drastically different sound than “Maze,” yet they’re off the same EP. So what’s been inspiring you lately?

I don’t think I’m ever totally aware of what’s doing the inspiring. It’s more of, what else is going on in my day-to-day at the time that I work on something. “Maze” was around the time that I was touring, DJing mostly, and constantly looking for material that would hold up at this club, that bar, this festival, etc. … it was finished on the road and a super intense reflection of my life at the time.  “Why’d You” was a very different situation and written over the course of a couple of days in my house.  The entire track was built around the growly bass (very pro talk) and instead of spending endless amounts of time digging for vocal samples that might work (and clear), I decided to add those using my own voice.  These are what you hear in the track and one shots that I sang / shouted / spoke directly into the laptop input and rolled with.  I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say.  It freed my entire process up and I’m trying to continue to approach things a bit more like “Why’d You” for the EP.

Speaking of,  “Why’d You” the video is insane! Can you tell us about how you got the concept? That throwback Mac desktop is slaying me

I’m a big Kid Robot fan and collect a lot of their special edition vinyl figures; The Simpsons, TMNT, OG Dummys, etc. …  So, I started building this story about a person who was working super late and listening to TV shows for background noise.  (The TV shows correspond to the vinyl figures.) The person starts noticing that “Why’d You” is stated throughout the shows and writes down the time signatures from each show, trying to make correlations between them, and rearranging numbers.  Turns out, they’re geo-coordinates.  So, the journey begins, and that’s the basic concept for the video.  The Mac is mine from 2002 and still works!  It was actually running the mp4 video files that I loaded via USB with no issue, but won’t load a single URL in whatever version of Internet Explorer is still on it. And of course the Myst tie-in, I was soooo obsessed with that game.  It wasn’t available for Mac but I played it on my parent’s dinosaur PC way back. And the vid was shot all within an hour or so of where I live.

What can we expect from the new EP that we haven’t heard from the latest singles?

More chill. I’m working out a way that I’m cool with that lets me hold on to the “Why’d You” vibe alongside tracks that are a little more off-kilter, yet still trying to have all of that remain cohesive.

What’s one thing you want everyone to know about the EP?

That I’m taking my time while simultaneously living as the one of the most impatient people ever.  So, things are getting super interesting over here.

What music do you listen to when you’re writing music?

I don’t listen to much when I’m writing. I mostly turn on movies or shows for background noise. Recently, I’ve been listening to The Wizard, Funny Farm, Short Circuit, Wicker Park, The Simpsons, Batman Returns. If I do listen to music it’s grabbing a track to see what’s working compositionally. The new Rizzla or Cyril Hahn are two that I recall very recently.

What’s the most challenging part of making music for you? What about the most rewarding?

Anxiety is a big challenge. I always go through this thing when I sit down to work on a track, or even start thinking about when I might work on a track, where I’ll delay or procrastinate because … what if I hate everything I’ve done after sitting for hours?  I realize producers don’t walk away loving what they do from every session, but that realization does not make it easier. Haha. Most rewarding is having someone reach out and tell me that one of my tracks really helped them through something or inspired them to start making music.

How do your parents feel about you being a musician? I don’t think they totally know what’s going on.

My Mom has always pushed and allowed music to be a big part of my life.  I was fortunate enough to have someone that would buy me tapes and CDs without any questions asked or some form of censorship.  REM’s Automatic for the People (i.e., “Everybody Hurts”) was the first CD I begged to have and she drove out of her way, while we were on vacation, to pick it up so that kid me could probably cry and be super angsty on vacation.  Recently she signed up for a Soundcloud account and commented that she “loved” one of my tracks in a comment.  That was super cute.  This is also the woman that stood on my Dad’s shoulders in 1977 to see where Elvis was buried after his body was moved to Graceland in Memphis.

What do you think is special about the music you make?

I don’t think anything is special about what I make, I’ll never really be that person.  I just enjoy it and it makes me feel better.  If someone else thinks it’s cool enough to listen to and comes out to shows then that’s pretty special.

If you could change one thing about the music industry/culture what would it be?

The glaringly obvious for me, equality between genders on pretty much every single front.  I won’t expand on this because it’s been done and in a much better way than I can articulate. e.g. The Black Madonna’s interview with Electronic Beats back in March of this year was huge for me.

If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing instead?

Design. I still have a job where I’m a graphic and web designer.  More of a web developer now I guess.

Tell us one thing no one knows about you.

I went by “Christy” until about 10 years ago when I wanted to switch to my first name, “Ellie.”

Any upcoming projects we can obsess about?

A collaboration that should wrap up in the coming weeks, I don’t want to mention names because it still needs to play out and actually release.  The EP.  Another video.  A track for a dope compilation that I also can’t mention the name of.  Damn, I’m of no help.  Haha.