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    Ellie Lawson

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    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1Open Up The Door lyrics
    2L.A. lyrics
    3Friends lyrics
    4Why The Fighting lyrics
    5Inside Out lyrics
    6Down With You lyrics
    7A Day Without Rain lyrics
    Ferry Corsten feat. Ellie Lawson
    8Gotta Get Up from Here lyrics
    9Hour Of Need lyrics
    10Never Be The Same lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    Philosophy Tree [2005]


    Today and I'm taking control again
    Patch on my arm in the bright sunlight
    There's no way that I'm gonna go under now
    Plenty of ways to make a wrong right
    No more negative thinking around me
    I don't wanna live my life that way...

    From "Gotta Get Up From Here"

    Born in South London and raised on welfare by her single mother, vocalist/lyricist/musician/ composer Ellie Lawson is an artist whose compelling voice and rich sonic landscape reflect a life journey of personal determination and self-discovery. With musical influences ranging from Kate Bush to A Tribe Called Quest, Tracy Chapman to KRS-One, Nick Drake to the Fugees, Ellie has invented a unique musical world that is both beat-driven and organic, lyrical and edgy, thoughtful and entrancing.

    The songs on "THE PHILOSOPHY TREE," her debut album, were largely composed by Ellie in her bedroom in her mother's council estate house. "This was my escape," she says. "My mum would be screaming and shouting, and I'd be on my 16-track writing songs - making my own beats and melodies, inventing harmonies."

    While she collaborated with producer DJ Lethal on the final album (with contributions from William Orbit on two tracks), "THE PHILOSOPHY TREE" has grown entirely from Ellie's imagination and individualism - a collection of captivating songs marked by principles and beliefs.

    "I always felt I was different from other singer/songwriters because I started out by writing conscious rap lyrics," says Ellie. "My writing has always been about me having something to say rather than about me writing catchy pop songs, but I've ended up doing both on this album."

    * * * * * *


    On learning music

    I was always singing from when I was very young, and me and my brother would make our own radio show on a cassette tape recorder at my aunt's house. I would amuse myself for hours making up songs. I'd play the piano at my grandparents' house whenever we visited, and my dad bought me a small keyboard, which had automatic chord sequences that I sang along to. Music got forgotten when I went to secondary school though. I found music class completely uninspiring. The songs they taught us were dreary and I didn't understand music theory.

    On discovering hip-hop

    I got back into making music in my last year at secondary school, when I discovered hip-hop. I started listening to A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and KRS-One on mix tapes that my boyfriend at the time gave me. I always wrote poetry at school, and so I started writing my own rap lyrics. It made sense... I wrote poetry, I had a voice, and I had issues. So I starting buying hip-hop records and would make up lyrics for the instrumental versions of the tracks, and from there I made my first demo tape of me rapping and singing.

    I started going to UK hip-hop jams, and I got talking to the rappers and the DJs and I was inspired by their sense of creative community. They were into their poetry and messages and expression, and that was the place I wanted to be. There weren't many women there, so I made it my duty to get up on stage and freestyle and recite my rhymes. I was developing my own style and my own voice, and I realized from people's reactions to me and my tape that I had something different.

    I was always searching for something in other artists, but I knew that I had my own thing going on - which started out with UK rap and ended up somewhere totally different. At the end of the day, rap music is about feeling alienated and misunderstood and is an expression of a disempowered person. That's how I felt, and like good conscious rap artists, I wanted to use my verbal expression to uplift my self and transcend my reality. However I don't look like a rapper (ha ha) or even sound like a rapper, so I had to find my own sound and style to project where I was coming from.

    On art and bills

    I always knew that I had to do something artistic with my life, as I was always good at Art and English in school. My battle was that I wanted to be creative but didn't want to end up on welfare in the process. I was never sure if making money from music was a realistic option, so I always felt like I had to have something to fall back on. I chose to do a degree in Communications and Audio Visual Production, as this was close to music and I knew that having a degree couldn't be a bad thing for getting a job and sharpening up my brain. I ended up with about three jobs, on the go working 7 days a week, including studying and writing my music. I worked in call centers, phone shops, and canvassing door-to-door, and in one job, I worked my way up from a telemarketer to photographer and shop manager.

    On guitar, singing, and songwriting

    About five years ago, I bought a 16-track recorder and a guitar and taught myself to play. I was disillusioned with the UK rap scene and the producers that I had met, and I wanted to make my own music. Within a week I was writing songs on my guitar - the first one was "999," which is on the album. I played my brother's bass and keys and began making my own beats and recordings. I went from hip-hop nights to singer-songwriter nights, performing at acoustic clubs around London. I met a whole new group of people and started listening to music that I would never have listened to previously, like Kate Bush, Nick Drake, and Björk. I got into harmonies, acoustic guitars, and string arrangements, and I now wanted to focus on making my music beautiful and otherworldly. This became my escape, and I would lock myself away for hours just freestyling and wailing. I would record everything and then take the best bits and write songs.

    On getting the deal

    I'd sent my bedroom demo tape to a few people and was waiting back on some independents. Around the same time, a friend of mine who is a computer consultant moved to New York, and he said he'd take my demo and give it to a few people. I was grateful, but I thought it was unlikely anything would happen, since he's not even in the music business. So I forgot about it. Meanwhile, he had covered half of Manhattan with a flyer for his computer repair business. A top music lawyer saw it and called my friend to fix his computer. When my friend walked into the office, he saw all these gold disks on the wall. So he told the lawyer that he knew a girl in England that had some great music. The lawyer agreed to listen to the demo, and, amazingly, he is now my manager.

    We made a new demo with producer DJ Lethal, who is also the partner in my manager's production company, and we re-recorded some of my songs from my bedroom and wrote some new ones. I produced two songs on my own as well. So I finally got to work with a brilliant producer and make some polished demos. So polished, in fact, that they became the final album, alongside some recordings I had done previously. I was signed by Atlantic Records, one of the best and most legendary labels, and so I truly feel that my hard work has finally paid off.


    "THE PHILOSOPHY TREE" is a mixture of concepts, beliefs, and principles that I live by, and is a tapestry of my sound and eclectic style. People can come and take what they want from it. It is varied, but really works as a whole piece, too. It is about me searching for adventure and trying to find my own way in this confusing life. Songs such as "Inside Out," "Open Up The Door," and "Why The Fighting" [also included on the Babyface and Russell Simmons benefit album, "WAKE UP EVERYBODY" keep me connected. Songs like "Bigger Than You Ever Imagined" and "Get What's Mine" have been like self-fulfilling prophecies for me, keeping me on my life's journey when other people have let me down. "Down With You," "L.A.," "Never Be The Same," and "Friends" are more fun and are about me finding out what I like and don't like. With all of my songs, I am literally discovering myself as I am writing. I'm in the story when I am telling it, and I hope that immediacy and in-the-momentness comes across.

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