Ella Fence emerges from her new creative space to play the Gold Coast Showcase at BIGSOUND.
When we last spoke you’d just bagged two Gold Coast Music Awards – did that recognition open any doors for you?
In terms of process, definitely. More people become aware of who you are so there’s greater familiarity with your work and that’s led to more opportunities for projects. Personally though it’s been the acknowledgement from my peers that’s been most gratifying.
And where do those trophies sit now?
I actually have a bit of a vibe cave under my house, it’s a new addition in my life. I’m basically building a studio where I live now in Brisbane.
Does the council know about this?
(Laughs) I just need sound proofing and there won’t be any questions. I’ve got a keyboard and guitars down there – basically I go there to escape and write. Sometimes you’re down there working away thinking “this is great, this is great”, then “no it’s not, this is shit, I’m shit”. Music is so subjective you’re always wondering “does this translate? Will they like this?” But then it’s cool, I can walk away from it, leave it alone for a while and come back to it later with new perspective.
I also have a plushy toy dragon in there because every cave needs a dragon. I’m basically Danerys Targaryen, the mother of dragons in my own little realm.
You played Snow White for the La Boite Theatre Company in the Brisbane Festival last year. It was a dark twist on an all too familiar tale – did you relish the opportunity to explore that side of your creative muse?
Definitely. Even though I’d already explored darker themes in my own music playing that character gave me license to go further by unlocking elements within my own artistic expression. It made me think more about myself in terms of performance, not just as a singer. That’s made a huge difference in the way I approach videos now from the direction of the film to what I’m doing within it because your physical performance is such a huge aspect of that – it’s all part of the package.
This year your music has taken on a more atmospheric tone, firstly with the trance like electro groove of Dancer and then the lo-fi downbeat wash that envelopes Cocaine, a song you say isn’t about drugs – what is it about?
I was invited to a party in Toronto as part of Canadian Music Week with some people that I’d just met and we ended up in a photo booth. While we were in there they started chopping out lines of cocaine and I was like “whoah, this is not my scene!” They offered me some, but I really didn’t know these guys, so I began to question whether it would be such a good idea. I said no thanks and they were cool with that so it was no big deal at the time, but afterwards I began to think about how attracted I am to people who are really free within themselves to do whatever it is that they want to do with their life choices. I’m attracted to the idea of being in the moment because it’s something I want to nurture within myself. It’s not about doing drugs, but the mindset within yourself to be free to do what you want to do. The song is about being on the outside, but wanting to be able to let go to live within the moment without having to question or second guess your motivations. It’s basically me wanting to be free of my very organized and structured self. This morning I got a new tattoo on my arm. It simply says: “today”. It’s all about living in the moment.
Both songs were collaborations with Vinnie LaDuce – what has he brought to your music?
He was a great sounding board for ideas. My management in the UK had begun to take a very controlling position over the way they wanted to package me and my music and it was becoming clear that they saw me as a product, rather than a creative person. So after removing myself from that environment I was able to reinvigorate my sense of who I was as an artist. Vinnie became a facilitator of what I felt was my natural progression as an artist.
From an artist’s perspective how important is BIGSOUND?
Oh it’s huge, not just for the live performances, but the conference itself. I’ve been coming to BIGSOUND for years and I’ve always drawn on the shared experience from the guest speakers and panel discussions. This year as one of the performers it’s a great opportunity for me and I’m really looking forward to it.
BIGSOUND is also a fantastic networking opportunity. Are you a good schmoozer?
(Laughs). I don’t know Trevor, do you think I’m a good schmoozer? If you haven’t noticed it yet, then I think that’s a yes.
Catch Ella Fence at the Gold Coast BIGSOUND Showcase alongside IVEY and Eliza and the Delusionals at the Brightside on Thursday 7 September from 12.30pm
IMAGE (c) Stuart Chapman