An underground hero in alt-country and Americana circles, Rory Ellis has released seven independent albums to date and is a veteran of the hard road of tough trails across Australia, The UK and Europe. He has begun the Aussie tour of his latest album Rah Rah, which hits the Gold Coast in July. Natalie O’Driscoll hung five with the master Australian singer / songwriter.
Do you have a favourite Aussie festival?
I have no particular favourites, but have had many amazing experiences at various festivals throughout the years. One of my favourite performances was with Dave Steel and Stuart Speed at the Apollo Bay Festival way way back around the early 2000’s. We started at 11am with barely a soul in the room, and within minutes, the room was jammed packed, and they were hanging on every word.
What is it about playing acoustically that you love?
I love the intimacy of performing acoustically and the ability to not always have to use a PA system, and yet, still be able to draw the audience in to your sound. When I play acoustically, it really does travel me back to where I wrote the song, and the instrument I wrote it on. You can’t beat that feeling – it gives me comfort and it gives me warmth.
You seem to have quite a love affair with England. What keep drawing you back there?
England has so much to offer. Great festivals, at which I have performed at many, amazing small venues and art centres, with really appreciative audiences. Over the years, I have had some terrific opportunities to perform with some fantastic artists – for example, my show at the Brook in Southampton with Richie Havens – the guy who opened Woodstock.
What inspired the lyrics on Rah Rah? Does the album have a theme?
Oohhh – this one comes from a happy place. Need I say more? It’s a cute little love song, but if I told you the truth, I’d have to kill you… 😉 Or shall I start building the dog house now?
Yes, the Album does have a theme – refer to the above answer….haha
Who are some of your biggest musical heroes?
Johnny Cash for his raw truth and sound, particularly in the American Recordings. Everyone loves Elvis…me included. In recent years, I have loved listening to Keiran Kane and Kevin Welch for their great lyrics, and darker, almost Appalachian sound. Greg Brown is another personal favourite.
Rory plays the NightQuarter stage on Friday 15 July, and entry is free.