I recently had the privilege of reviewing the latest CD by Ellen Tipper entitled "The Juggler" From start to finish “The Juggler” is an amazing collection of music by Ellen Tipper. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really a weak piece on this entire catalogue. All pieces are short & sweet musical experiences, each one possessing its own signature groove, & musical personality to call its own. The writing & playing abilities of this band are rock solid, the catalogue is highly diversified. But last but not least the vocal presence & amazing piano playing & songwriting abilities of Ellen Tipper just makes the whole thing work. She is infectious artists that knows how to play the piano, sing you a song a occupy a special place in your heart with her amazing artistry.
"Sweet & Delicate"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST -
IMD I really enjoyed your latest CD “The Juggler” How does this release differ from your others?
ET Thank you! The Juggler is my second full-length release. This album differs from my first release in a few significant ways. There is more instrumentation and the arrangements are more layered. The first CD was a more stripped down sound. I worked with producer John Kurgan on this release, whereas I largely self-produced my first CD. John encouraged me to take a few more musical risks than I might have on my own and I think he helped me stay very present within each song. As with my first release, The Juggler is pretty diverse, spanning many different musical genres. I have a broad range of musical interests and my songwriting tends to reflect multiple influences.
IMD Who have been some of your top musical influences over the years? Whoa re some of the female vocalists who have had an influence? I hear a bit of Suzanne Vega, & Amy Grant & Sara McLaughlin.
ET The female vocalists that I never tire of listening to are Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin (especially early recordings), and Ricki Lee Jones – their delivery is so powerful, soulful and nuanced. Suzanne Vega was definitely an influence, along with Jonatha Brooke, Nicolette Larson, Bonnie Raitt, The Indigo Girls, Sarah McLaughlin, Diana Krall, and Annie Lenox. The female vocalists I really dig right now are Grace Potter, Sara Bareilles, and Liz Longley. In terms of overall musical influences, I really am all over the map. I grew up as a classically trained pianist, so I love Bach, Gershwin, and Debussy, but I also love Herbie Hancock, Little Feat, Steely Dan, Stan Getz, Martin Sexton, Lou Reed, the Doors, Lyle Lovett, Alicia Keys, Radiohead, Ray LaMontagne, Five for Fighting, and Stevie Wonder.
IMD Who gets to be your top vocal influence?
ET Although I don’t listen to him as much now, I’d have to say Jackson Browne.
IMD What was the best concert you have ever been to?
ET Les Freres Coulibaly in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso. I lived in West Africa for several years and was able to see some incredible music there. Les Freres Coulibaly are two brothers that play the djembe. They gave the most powerful performance I’ve ever seen.
IMD What’s the one thing you want fans to take from your music?
ET A sense that the world is connected – that little things matter – that we can find beauty even in pain and sorrow.
How’s the music
scene in your neck of the woods?
ET Maine is a great place for songwriters. There’s a lot of good creative energy. Portland has become a thriving music scene. I live north of Portland, on the “midcoast” so there’s a bit less going on, but there’s no shortage of talented musicians to play with. In the summer, more venues/parties open up looking for solos/duos and bands.
IMD I especially enjoyed the song “The Juggler” & “Dig Down Deep” could you tell us what inspired this amazing piece of music? “
ET Dig Down Deep was inspired by friendship. A lot of my friends are gardeners – serious food gardeners – and I’ve always been taken by their dedication in the spring to getting the earth ready for planting. It just felt like the right metaphor for the way that friends help renew each other. The Juggler is about life, real life – my life, everyone’s life. We all keep too many balls in the air and when they fall down, the only thing we can do is to carry on.
IMD Is there one song that really sticks out in your mind as being your personal favorite on this catalogue?
ET I loved making the song Non La come to life from a riff I started creating while working on a project in Hanoi, Vietnam. But I think my personal favorite is The Juggler. That song just poured right out of me. Caroline and Sweet Love are close seconds, but every song has its own story to fall into.
IMD What was the first song you ever wrote?
ET It was a song about spring that I wrote when I was about 5. My mother had recorded it and found it a while ago. It was pretty funny hearing it, actually.
IMD What’s next for Ellen Tipper?
ET I’m looking forward to doing some mini-tours in support of “The Juggler” release. After being a New Folk Finalist at the Kerrville Music Festival in Texas last May 2010, I was asked to come back to Texas this summer to play at some house concerts and as an opener at Uncle Calvin’s. I’m always writing new music, so I’ll be looking toward the next CD as well.
interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.
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