We spoke to the amazing Ella Henderson about her latest release Dream On Me, collaborating with Roger Sanchez, charging family an entry fee to watch her perform as a kid, and how the arts and entertainment community must stick together during these difficult times.
Interview by Ben Farrin
Hey Ella, thanks for your time! Let’s get straight to it… you’ve just released a new track called Dream on Me with Roger Sanchez (which has made me very happy)! Your voice and his style and sound suit perfectly. How did this collaboration come about?
This year has been a completely unpredictable time for all of us and if you’d have said I was going to meet and collaborate on a record with Roger Sanchez during a worldwide pandemic I wouldn’t have believed you! I started this idea in London during the summer, I’ve always been a huge fan of Roger’s Another Chance so I started messing around with the record and we sampled it up, I then ended up writing the majority of Dream On Me in the space of about 40 minutes!
Wow! Is this song about a specific person in your life and/or a personal situation to you?
I feel like this year felt like it was the summer we all missed out on. I missed hanging out with my friends, socialising and going out during lockdown, so the main inspiration for this record was writing a tune about missing what life felt like before and dreaming about us all reuniting.
So many people have been unable to meet friends, loved ones and family due to COVID. How have you managed to cope during these difficult and challenging times?
It has definitely been a very strange time of uncertainty for a lot of us, and I think COVID has made me realise just how important my closest friends and family members are to me. I spent the majority of lockdown at my parents back in Lincolnshire, so I was able to disconnect from work and everything that normally consumes me. Spending quality time with my family really helped me stay sane and happy. Staying in touch with my nearest and dearest and also checking in on people that I know live alone has definitely been something I made sure of.
COVID has struck the music and arts industry extremely badly and it’s so sad that many talented people (including many singers) are having to find alternative ways to earn a living. What advice might you give, or what message would you send to musicians who are struggling right now?
It absolutely baffles me that the creative arts and entertainment industry is not being taken seriously. Don’t get me wrong, there are 100% more vital job roles going on right now during this pandemic, but I think it is so key for everyone to understand just how important and influential the arts are on us as a human race. A world without art or creativity would be such a bland, boring one, and also there wouldn’t be anyone forming any individuality. As an artist myself, it isn’t just me that goes on the road and makes my shows happen, there are so many people involved within live shows/touring/performing in the backline who have trained or worked to get to where they are their whole lives! Those people – just like anyone else in any other job are currently struggling to feed their own families due to no work going on during this time. I think anyone struggling right now should know that you are not alone and if we stick together as a community, we will get through this.
Do you find making music as being a kind of “escape”?
Absolutely! I’ve often described my song-writing as my form of therapy. I don’t know what I would do without it.
It’s mesmerising and inspirational watching how much you enjoy what you do. You look so happy “doing your thing”, especially in the Dream on Me video – your energy and sound is infectious. Would you say that you were born to sing? (From what age did you start to sing and perform)?
I think I always knew I was going to be involved in music somehow or some way. As a kid I used to put on shows in the living room and make my family members pay an entry fee to come in and watch me sing for them, haha! I loved the feeling of performing and putting a smile on people’s faces when doing it.
I wish I was born with such a gift that you have. In fact, if I could choose any natural born talent, singing would be my number one! Followed closely by football. To score a goal for your country, wow! Do you have any other amazing talents that we don’t know about?
Errmm… I’m not sure I would class it as a talent, but I am pretty good in the kitchen! I absolutely love cooking.
If you could choose another amazing natural born talent, what would it be?
I think if I could have any other natural born talent it would be really cool to be able to draw really well. I am so rubbish at drawing, but it would come in handy when I want to visually show my team how I envision my staging for shows or even outfit looks for my stylist and being able to design them!
Do you walk around the house singing a lot? I know I would, if I could (sing)!
I probably don’t think I do, but I guess I do without realising! I’m always one for singing in the shower haha.
Despite not singing “a lot”, I still do sing around the house, just not much, and very badly. It’s kind of a bad habit. Do you have any bad habits?
I am terrible for talking to myself out loud. I do this a lot when I’m in my own home back in London.
What’s been the stand-out moment so far for you in your career?
Probably performing in front of Beyoncé & JAY Z in America, that was pretty amazing. She is my idol so that was a real starstruck moment for me.
What are your plans for the rest of this year and 2021?
Well I would love to say I am going on tour, but right now I am not sure how soon we can make that happen! However, 2021 is definitely going to be a good year for new music from me and fingers crossed I can eventually tour and travel again once it is safe to do so!
Play or download Dream On Me by Ella Henderson here: https://lnk.to/DreamOnMeAW