Meet Elli Ingram – an independent singer and songwriter, whose voice, lyrics and energy take you on a deeply personal, emotionally raw and joyful ride.
Elli is our latest guest for the Lazy Women of the Music Industry talking about the hustle, the value of rest, her artistic process, mental health, fashion and so much more.
I was lucky to talk to Elli at the very start of her Plan A tour and right before the anticipated release of her sophomore album Bad Behaviour. Reflecting on her journey, Elli talked to me about how she navigates the contemporary music industry full of distractions and the pressure to conform.
From her music to her fashion and even to her funny baking videos I was instantly charmed by Elli’s all-around captivating personality and artistry. I believe seeing her journey with ups and downs, will help others keep pursuing their passions with honesty, openness and courage.
You’re starting your tour next weekend. Congratulations, I hope you feel really hyped up for it. What is ‘Plan A’, and what’s the story behind it? Can we say that plan is being accomplished in real-time?
Yeah, finally, Plan A is being implemented, which is amazing. Because for such a long time, it felt like it wasn’t and it couldn’t. I’ve got this song called No Plan B, which is about not having a backup plan. And it just kind of felt so fitting to have this tour called the Plan A tour because this is my only plan. There’s no plan B. And this is the plan A and the plan is to get out, play shows, and reconnect with fans like music forever. So this is me showcasing to the world. I’m excited to stand on stage and just be like, This is my Plan A, guys. Get on board!
About the song ‘No Plan B’, pursuing careers in creativity, and even so for women comes with a mix of self-doubt, other insecurities and the hustle. How do you relate to it?
It’s a very literal song. The first line is, I’m starting to freak out. I want to jump out of the window. And that is literally what happened. In COVID, I had to go back to a part-time job, and I’ve been doing music full-time for years. So going back to a part-time job was such a heads-up for me. I just went to a coffee shop and got a job there. And I remember on the bus home, I started to freak out. I experienced my first-ever panic attack. I just felt so overwhelmed with what the fuck am I doing? It was the first time ever in my life, I really questioned myself about music. I was just so scared not because I was working in a coffee shop, I love working in a coffee shop. I just felt like, what am I going to do if I can’t do this?
And it feels kind of like a full circle moment and very empowering for me now to be going on this Plan A tour for myself.
To be like You did it girl, you didn’t have a plan B, you were freaking the fuck out. But now look at you, you’re about to go on tour. I really hope this motivates and inspires other people because like you said, anyone in the creative industry, if you’ve got a dream and a passion, there is nothing more frightening than when you think that’s going to be taken away. So I just want people to know that if you just hold on. Hopefully, it pays off, you know, and if it means you have to get a job and find other ways to make money, do what you need to do. I mean, what are we doing if we end up just giving up on what we love?
Now that you’re back to planning and working on your new singles, do you experience the hustle culture of the music industry itself?
100% It’s like, it’s go, go, go now is hustle, hustle, hustle. I feel like in this day and age, which is scary, but everyone is so capable of so much, creating so much content and being so accessible all of the time. So I do feel like I have to sometimes keep up with everything that everybody else is doing. But I also try not to put that much pressure on myself to do that. I can’t spread myself too thin, because then otherwise, my art won’t be as good. So it’s kind of a balance, and a bit conflicting of being like, I have to do everything and I have to hustle and I have to make fucking Tiktoks every single day and keep up with all these young, creative content makers. But then I’m also like, really, I don’t really care about that. And if people like me, like my music, I feel like that will be enough. Right now, I’m up for the hustle and my energy is high. But give it a few weeks. So I might be under the duvet just like no I can’t do any more for a while.
I also want to ask about this on the track ‘Heavy’ because it deals with quite raw challenges. How does it feel to share these vulnerable parts of your life experiences? How do you translate this personal story to music?
I think the most important and powerful thing about music is being able to connect with people and share these really vulnerable, scary times. That’s my favourite music to listen to. I feel like Oh, my God, those lyrics were written for me, thank you to whoever wrote that song. So I never hold back on those moments in my life, because I know how that sort of music helps me. And I’m a very emotional person, I struggle with my mental health.
If I was shying away from writing about those things, I don’t think I would feel like I was being my true authentic self as a writer.
It’s hard to write those songs and it’s, it’s hard to perform those songs because you wrote them such a long time ago, and then you kind of have to relive those moments. For me, it’s just all part of my role as a singer, and as a writer, to share these moments with people so they can relate and not feel so alone.
What do you usually do not to burn out, like what are your ways to recharge when you’re not working?
I’ve really, really, really fallen in love with my bedroom lately. I think it’s coming from COVID, where we’ve got to spend so much time in bed.
It really hits differently.
If I have a day off, I get so excited because I’m spending the whole day in bed, and I won’t feel bad about it. 100% like my heart, I have a real love for my bedroom.
Three years ago, you released the cover for Kendrick Lamar, ‘Poetic Justice’. It still gathers a lot of views on YouTube. Last time I checked it was 1.3 million. What’s your relationship with this song now? And how do you feel about the whole idea of virality on YouTube or other social media as well?
That song was the cover that kickstarted my career. It opened so many extremely heavy doors for me and sort of bought me a path into the music industry. I think not that many people were using YouTube, not like how they are now with everyone blogging and things like that. It was amazing for it to take up so much space on YouTube because not many things were at the time. It was also the start of my journey with Felix (Felix Joseph) and Aston (Aston Rudi) as well who produced all my projects. It was the start of our relationship and our friendship. So it was just a really special time really in my life that I’ll remember forever.
I think you have an incredible fashion sense, which comes out especially in ‘Bad Behaviour’. I think it’s such a fun and joyful video. What role does fashion play in your self-expression? How do you approach styling yourself? Do you do it on your own?
Oh, yeah, fashion has always been such a huge thing for me. I wanted to study fashion, but I didn’t get the grades. So my mom was like, What are you going to do? I feel like maybe you like singing. And I was like, Yeah, it’s my thing. Then I went to college and did a music BTech. And that’s how that all started. I was always extremely experimental as a child with the way I dress and my makeup. I think everyone thought I was a bit doolally, but it was such a way of expressing myself. And I’ve always loved colour.
And I love to stand out. I don’t mind if I look a bit mad, and someone looks at me.
Now I do style myself. I would love to have a stylist just because it’s so long, like going on tour. And my house is just full of boxes. Just another thing to think of, but it is fine. It’s just another way of expression, isn’t it, fashion? I love to express myself through words. So it goes hand in hand to then be able to express myself through clothes. It is so much fun. I put things together and hope for the best really, and people think it looks alright, most of the time. I can be even more elaborate and expressive on tour because I feel like I can, as the artist, Elli Ingram. I just have a little bit more of a confidence and kind of an alter ego in some way.
Can you give our lazy reader some of your musical influences? Who do you look up to?
My overall inspiration and favourite artists are Jill Scott, Angie Stone, Erykah Badu, Aretha Franklin, and Gladys Knight, but now, I listen to a lot of SZA and Little Sims, Solange, and Ari Lennox. I love Ari Lennox! Just lots of soul, r&b, hip hop. Old and New. Lots of women on that list. I think I actually just said we’re only women. What can I say, we do it best.
And apart from music, what are your sort of guilty pleasures?
I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I do lots of cooking. I love painting. Or just things that are still very creative. Everything is quite hands-on.
I feel like we have to mention English muffins. I love the cooking videos you put out. Were those like a COVID thing?
It was a COVID thing. My good friend Ellie, it was kind of her idea. We filmed the series once a week in bed and we just had so much fun. I think you can see it in the videos, but it was just the ultimate amount of silliness and stupidity. People are always eager – “do more English muffins!” and I would love to. I feel like the English muffin definitely got something brewing.
So that is the Plan B!
I mean, that is very true. It’s a good plan B for sure. The English muffin!
Bad Behaviour is Elli’s second studio album co-created with long-term friend and collaborator Aston Rudi through her own imprint, PINC (Promoting Independent Newcomers). You can now stream Elli Ingram’s 13-track album featuring songs from the interview and more. Mark your calendars to catch her on the Bad Behavior Tour 2023 with the opening show on the 25th October in Manchester.
Linktree for all things Elli Ingram
Interview by Dinara Satbayeva.
Dinara has a background in Central Asian cultural heritage, art and community engagement. She is a part-time illustrator based in Budapest. Dinara is passionate about the representation of women in art, the independent music scene, as well as the relationships between self-expression, creativity and mental health. As a primarily visual collaborator, this interview is her first (but likely not the last) written contribution to Lazy Women.
Doodles by Eszti Balázs.
Based in Vienna, Eszti is a freelance illustrator and (soon-to-be) community coordination graduate. She is passionate about subcultures, the underground music scene, the music industry, social issues and self-expression – all of which she aims to channel through her illustrations. In her free time, you will probably find her at a local metal/punk show, hanging out with friends at a coffee shop or scribbling out something to post on her Instagram (@st.creates).