"CAPE TIMES" ARTICLE
From today's Cape Times:
John ellis goes raw in ‘Rural’
October 12 2012 at 11:05am
“MUSIC and politics are interesting bedfellows,” says musician John Ellis. “A lot can be said with a six-string. You write these songs and then you stop because you can only sing so much before you sound like a stuck record.”
The former frontman of Tree63, Ellis will perform at Studio 7 in Sea Point on Sunday and at Barleycorn Music Club in Lansdowne Road on Monday.
Both gigs will feature songs from his latest album,Rural, an acoustic collection of “poetry and protest”.
Recorded over three days at Peace of Eden in Knysna at the end of last year,Ruralis a departure from what fans may have come to expect from the musician.
“It’s very stripped down. Everything was recorded live and there was no studio trickery. We took a DIY record approach,” Ellis says. “It’s a far cry from what I’ve done before.”
His previous album,Come Out Fighting, was rock. A songwriter at heart, though, Ellis decided that he would create an album that celebrated that side of himself and used traditional songwriting.
“It was so spontaneous and the agenda was so different. I tried to capture something unique to that moment. Because of that spontaneity you’re on your toes the whole time.”
Ellis adds that performing live at a mic without planning to go back later and fix anything meant that he had a completely different attitude going in. The album features Johnny Clegg’s drummer, percussionist Barry van Zyl, who performed live with Ellis in the studio.
What does the artist have up his sleeve for his next studio outing?
“I may be one of those irritating artists where with every album you never know what it’ll be,” he laughs.
What fans can be assured of is that at the Studio 7 and Barleycorn gigs they will be treated to his latest musical offerings. The fluid wayRuralwas put together means that it translates beautifully to a live stage.
“As Bob Dylan once said, the recorded version of a song is just one version, it can go anywhere in a live environment.”
The audience at the intimate Studio 7 can expect a taste of what it was like in studio when Ellis was recording the album, while Barleycorn could take a different route.
“Barleycorn is interesting, it’s a fairly traditional folk environment,” says Ellis. “I’d like to see how my music fits into that environment, put a different frame around it and see how it measures up.”
A challenge he could not have foreseen was the theft last month of his Gibson J200.
“It’s such an odd thing to be launching a CD that was recorded on a guitar that has been stolen. But I have generous friends I can beg and borrow from,” he says, allaying any fears that the loss will affect his performances.
Ellis suspects he may be one of those “lazy creative people”, waiting months until he has time to squeeze some writing into a busy schedule of changing nappies. But when he does sit down to flex his creative muscles, he quite enjoys the process of topical writing, picking a focus and working from there.
Since' Rural’,he has been experimenting with new songs and trying to find a balance between electronic and traditional. “I have quite a nice stockpile, I’m just waiting to see if they’re worth listening to.”
For information, see www.johnellis.co.za