Ellis Turns “Shitty” Experiences into Something She Can Be Proud of – AdHoc

Ellis Turns “Shitty” Experiences into Something She Can Be Proud of

The emo dream-pop artist believes “it’s a really amazing time for women playing rock.”

Linnea Siggelkow, a.k.a. Ellis, is the kind of inspiring, independent woman who can juggle two part-time jobs, a crazy relationship, and making great music all at once. If something’s up, she’s gonna let it all out and do something about it. And she wants you to do the same.

To escape the toxicity of the city, the Canadian singer-songwriter moved from Toronto to the more tranquil setting of Hamilton, Ontario in 2017. Since relocating, she has completed her upcoming debut EP, The Fuzz, which she’s self-releasing on November 9. It’s a six-track collection of the most intense emotions you can think of: self-sabotage, love, emotional oppression, heartbreak, regret, despair, and, ultimately, acceptance.

One of the three singles she has released so far, “Frostbite,” is about a difficult relationship Siggelkow was in, how she felt trapped, and the emotional and physical turmoil it caused. This Halloween, Ellis also released a captivatingly eerie music video for “The Drain,” which speaks of diving deep into a relationship that you know is bad for you and what awaits you when you hit the bottom. Her songs can certainly seem dark at a glance, but the music’s uplifting guitars and Ellis’ poignantly cathartic vocal melodies offer an undeniable sense of hope. It’s music about beholding your emotions and horrible experiences and feeling empowered by them rather than crushed by their weight.

Ahead of her performance at Alphaville on November 15, Ellis chatted with AdHoc about her influences, her thoughts on today’s music, and what it’s like to share your most personal emotions and experiences with the world. Ellis also has a limited run of 50 tapes of The Fuzz available for pre-order on Bandcamp. Grab one here.

AdHoc: What are the positives about the scene in Hamilton that you think were lacking in Toronto? Do you think the Hamilton scene has suited you well so far?

Linnea Siggelkow: I think there’s a bit more of an inclusive feeling in Hamilton; it’s smaller and people are just supportive in a different way and on a deeper level. I was really ready to leave Toronto back then and see what my next move would be. I had some friends here, so I came. It’s really accessible to Toronto, which is really convenient for shows and whatever, yet [Hamilton] is still completely separate from [Toronto]. Rent is much cheaper, and there’s just a way chiller vibe here. I think for my mood and my mental health, it really mellows me up a bit, I’m able to breathe better here, you know what I mean?

You’ve said that “emo dream-pop” is the best descriptor for your music. How much do you identify with the “emo” genre and aesthetic?

Especially in high-school, that was my main “jam.” I think I identify the most with music that is emotional in some way and music that evokes a strong feeling. Connecting with music emotionally has always been important to me. For me to be able to write music that is about my feelings, and put that out there, and hope that someone can connect to that feeling—it’s just a cool, dignifying thing. I think it’s, like, a really human thing. The more raw the emotion, the more I’m into it. When someone described my music to me that way, I was like, “YES!” I liked that and I went with it.

Tell me a bit about your influences and what inspires you.

Over the years, I’ve evolved a lot. When I was younger, I was listening to a lot of folk music, and that’s probably when I got into songwriting and listening to singer-songwriter music, songs that told stories and that were autobiographical. Back then, I loved Laura Marling, and I was listening to a lot of women with acoustic guitars. Often when I write, it’s just me and the guitar. I listen to a lot of music and I go through a lot of phases, and I feel like you can sort of hear [the different influences] in my songs.

I’m always so interested in how other people describe my songs, because I can’t really listen to them objectively; I’m too involved in them. I’m obviously really inspired by what’s happening in music scenes now. I think it’s a really amazing time for women playing rock and female bands and I feel really inspired by that. Seeing women that I admire play music and kill it right now has been a huge motivation for me. People like Mitski selling out multiple nights in the same city is definitely really inspiring.

How do you feel about today’s mainstream music culture?

Like pop music, like Top 40? I don’t listen to a ton of it, to be honest. I’m probably really out of touch with it, actually. But, like, pop music is sick. [Laughs] If it comes on the radio, I’m down for it, but I don’t actively listen to it. I love to dig for music on Bandcamp; I definitely prefer underground music, because I think I don’t really write “pop” music, or whatever. The internet, you know, is like a never-ending abyss of amazing artists. There’s lots to choose from. It doesn’t have to be whatever the media shoves in your face.

Is there any particular group of people you think your music will speak to? Do you see yourself as trying to reach out to a specific group of people, or a scene?

To be honest, there’s nothing super-intentional about the music I make. It’s really autobiographical; it’s really feeling-based and personal, and I’m just sort of putting it out there and hoping that it will resonate with someone. It’s been really interesting to see the kinds of people that have reached out so far; it’s been a pretty wide demographic, and that is really cool for me. People like older men [Laughs] and, like, teenage girls. When I’m writing I often think about how I wish I could have listened to these songs when I was younger. It’s a sort of mourning for my past, or something like that. If younger people listen to it and take something away from it, that would be really cool, but it’s not an intentional thing.

You’ve also said that “Frostbite” was about the worst night of your life. How does it feel to share such an intimate experience with the world, and what sort of reaction do you think others might have when they hear it?

Yeah, thanks for asking, because that song is particular. I wrote it a little while ago about a night that happened quite a while ago, so writing it has helped me deal with things. It’s a way for me to get them out, package them up, and move beyond them. That song in particular I feel pretty separate from at this point, but there are other songs that are still a little part of me and are harder for sure to share. I think, eventually, they’ll all sort of be a piece of me that I don’t carry around anymore, and being detached in that way makes it a lot easier to share, as well.

But also, I’m a pretty open person in general. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’ve always been fairly comfortable to do that. So it’s kind of a cool thing for me to write about experiences and to make something of them and to share them. It’s a powerful thing to turn shitty things into something that I can be proud of. It can be empowering in that way.

What do the people who reach out to you tell you they like about your music?

Some people comment on the lyrics. I’ve had a couple people already say that they’re going through breakups and that the songs resonate with them, and that is such a special thing for me. I think that it’s about acknowledging this common humanity—the shitty things that happen to us all, and maybe feeling left alone in those moments. It’s a meaningful experience, and if I were able to have anything to do that, that would be very special for me.

What advice would you give to young women who are trying to get noticed in the music industry?

Hmmm… getting noticed in the music industry… Well, I think just keep making music that you’re proud of, and even if you’re not proud of it, just keep making more. Surround yourself with a team of people that you really trust, people who believe in your art. I think it’s really important to work with people that you care about and people who care about you.

I’m so grateful for everyone that I’ve been working with, and how respectful they are of this as my project, and how much they’re willing to put into it to make it the best that it can be. It’s been a really awesome experience so far. The people in my band have changed up a little bit, and I’m not sure exactly how it’s gonna go in future shows, because it’s tricky to match up touring schedules. But it’s been so far only friends that I’ve played with, and it’s been really nice.

On that note, you must be really excited to play your first Brooklyn show.

Yeah, so excited! [Laughs]

Have you ever been to New York? What are your thoughts on the scene here?

Yeah, I’ve been a few times, but I’ve never played music there. I love so many artists from New York. I don’t know a ton about the scene, but I reached out to Thanks 4 Coming and Yours Are The Only Ears to play that show. They’re just both bands that I really admire, and I’m really so excited that we get to play together. They’re both really lovely, so I think it’s gonna be a cool show.

We’re also releasing a zine to go alongside the new EP that me and my friend, Sean Richman, made together, and I’m really excited to show that to everyone.

Oh wow, that’s a really good idea! What’s it gonna include?

Well, it’s got some photographs I’ve taken. It’s got some handwritten lyrics. It’s sort of got a spread for each song on the EP. Sean did all of the design work for Ellis, and he helped me put it all together. There’s also some GPS coordinates in there for the really particular places that are significant to each song. So it’s a pretty personal thing, and I hope that it sort of helps to connect each song to the world.