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Ellie rehearsing in her mum's front room
Ellie releases CD - by popular demand
By Laura Joint
Devon singer-songwriter Ellie Williams is releasing her debut album - with a little help from her friends.
Exeter singer-songwriter Ellie Williams sits in the front room at her mum's house on the first day of rehearsals for her debut album, and wonders where her band is.
"They should've been here at 10 o'clock this morning, and it's now one o'clock in the afternoon," she says. "I'll ring them on the mobile."
Her band, from Plymouth, arrives at 1.20pm and it transpires that bass player Dave Hodge had slept through three alarm clocks.
He knows he's in the doghouse: "Sorry, sorry, sorry. I can't believe I could have slept through three alarm clocks. It's never happened before."
Dave Hodge, Ellie, John Eschbaecher, John Gardner
Within half an hour, the band is all set up in the front room, and going through the songs which are scheduled for inclusion on Ellie's album.
The first song they perform is Firefly, and when you hear it you can understand why so many people have invested in Ellie's CD.
Ellie put herself onto the Sellaband website, where artists upload their songs and invite listeners to invest in them so that they can record an album.
The target figure is $50,000 (approximately £27,000), and Ellie raised it in record time - just 49 days.
The money pays for her to make an album with a top producer, in her case, Tony Platt. Tony has worked with acts including Bob Marley, Paul McCartney, The Who, The Rolling Stones and Traffic.
With Tony due to arrive at Ellie's mother's house just outside Exeter on the second day of rehearsals, this session is really the last chance for Ellie and her band to work on the songs.
Ellie harmonising with her mum, Sue
All the tracks for the CD are written by Ellie, and there are some fresh ones which might also make it onto the album: "I wrote a new song last night," said Ellie. "It's called Broken - but it's not as sad as it sounds.
"Most of my songs are sad - melancholic. They're not all slit your wrist though."
Ellie's mum, Sue, has been busy making tea and cake for the band, but comes into the front room to sing a duet with her daughter. She begs to differ: "Oh yes they are all slit your wrist!
"We've always harmonised together and we won Best Duet at Exeter Festival once.
"I've always sung and I'm so glad Ellie has taken it on."
Ellie started songwriting at an early age and remembers vividly her first ever song: "It sounds quite sad really but I wrote my first song just after my nan died when I was 12, which obviously set off some kind of trigger and I've been writing songs ever since."
Smidge the cat making himself comfy with the drums
Sixteen years on, and here she is, rehearsing for her first CD with the band she has just put together - Dave (the oversleeper), John Gardner on acoustic guitar, and John Eschbaecher on drums.
There can't be many more relaxing places to play music: there are views all around of the East Devon countryside; there's the lovely smell of freshly baked cakes; and there's Smidge the cat making himself at home...until the drums started.
Ellie has already received positive feedback from Tony Platt, and from fellow Devonian, Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin: "He heard about me and sent me an e-mail wishing me well.
"And he said he'd love to hear the album when it comes out."
She hopes to release the CD in February 2009, to coincide with her 29th birthday.
For Ellie, releasing her debut CD is a dream come true - but she's hoping this is just a start: "I'm really excited. It's one of those things which doesn't really sink in at all. I wake up some mornings and think 'goodness, I'm actually making an album.
"In a dream world for me, if I could just make a career out of writing the music and touring with the music, that would just be everything for me."
You can listen to a live set by Ellie on BBC Radio Devon, using the audio link.
last updated: 27/08/2008 at 18:08