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INTERVIEW: Ellen Starski

Pic by Amelia Booth

Hi Ellen, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hello there. Things are beautiful here in Nashville, TN. Livin’ and loving life.

Can you talk to us more about your song “Miss You Mary”?

“Miss You Mary” is a song I wrote as a tribute to my mother’s incredible devotion to a troubled daughter, a.k.a. me.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

During my teenage years, I proved to be a difficult child to say the least, and got myself into troublesome situations. It’s amazing to me what a 16-year-old can get their hands on in rural America. My “drug years” were a terrifying time, but my mother’s determination and love pulled me out of that dark world. This song was written for her as a dedication to her strength and that time in our lives.

Any plans to release a video for the track?

I’m actually working on a video concept for the song “Ode to Nanny & Cookie” right now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t release a “Miss You Mary” video in the future.

The song comes off of your new album The Days When Peonies Prayed For The Ants – what’s the story behind the title?

I suppose the title of the record came to me years ago as my father described the symbiotic relationship between the ants, and peonies. Sitting in the garden that day, he described how the peony couldn’t bloom without the help from those little black ants, and my fascination with their relationship has always stuck with me. The songs on the  album are influenced by family, friendships, and love; all of these relationships require that “give and take” that the peonies and ants reveal to us in the springtime every year.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing behind these songs was a process that took years to reach fruition. There are a couple songs on this album that had been sitting in my closet for years, awaiting the day I’d find the strength to introduce them to the world. When I approached Anne McCue about producing the album, I probably had seven songs at the helm, and began writing feverishly after she agreed to take the project on.  We recorded the songs in two days at Joe McMahan’s Wow & Flutter Studio here in Nashville, and Anne worked on overdubs at her Flying Machine Studio afterwards. Watching this process unfold was magical and rewarding. I’m forever grateful for all the support I’ve received while making this project come to life.

What role does Nashville play in your music?

Nashville is such an inspiring city, and the musical community here has been incredibly supportive. I’m blessed to be working with some talented agencies, and have been awarded opportunities in this city I couldn’t find anywhere else. This city has become a home to me.

How did Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan influence your writing?

They are two of the greatest songwriters in the universe! These gentleman had an incredible influence on my writing, and still do. On the drives to the studio in preparation for the recordings, I listened to Bob Dylan’s Desire album. “One More Cup of Coffee,” “Oh Sister,” and “Sara” are all songs that have had a major impact on my life… to just name a few. The care that was put into the lyrics from both Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan is what influenced me most of all. There’s a depth in the places they reach that is intangible by most.

What aspect of yourself did you get to explore on this record?

This record is autobiographical on so many fronts that it’s hard to pinpoint just one aspect. The amount of growth that has occurred in my personal life after releasing this album is exponential, and the courage I’ve found has been truly transformational. 

Any plans to hit the road?

We have a few solid dates in the books for next year, and opportunities are presenting themselves around many corners. I truly hope to play a few festivals next year!

What else is happening next in Ellen Starski’s world?

I’m currently in the process of meeting with producers right now, and I plan to go back in the studio next spring. There are so many musical ideas creeping up on me daily, and I can’t wait for the sounds to find their true form! Ain’t life beautiful!

Website:  www.ellenstarski.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/ellenstarski

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/starskiellen

Instagram:  www.instagram.com/ellenstarski

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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