Ellie Herring was once a young girl, growing up in the deep south, listening to mildly progressive bands like R.E.M. and INXS (in the 1990s)… and then her friend gave her a Robert Miles CD and she began her obsession with electronic music. “I became obsessed with Underworld and Orbital,” she tells me in a recent interview. By this point it was the late 90s and she was quite thankful for the world wide web: “At that point the internet started to exist, which really helped find cool new music, when you’re in the middle of nowhere.” She is currently one of the most intriguing electronic musicians/DJs/producers (She’s all of them.) in the country, blending IDM and ambient in a manner satisfying to even those not in the electronic-know (much like her heroes, Underworld). She has an upcoming full-length, Kite Day, due out Tuesday, July 23rd, on RaceCar Productions.
Herring currently resides in Lexington, Kentucky… not somewhere I would expect to have a plethora of electronic music. She confirms this for me: “It’s really really hit or miss. As far as states go, it’s really more of a regional thing. It’s like Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, are all kind of in the same musical network.” However, she does tell me that there are benefits to being one of the few electronic artists in the area… primarily, that when a big electronic act comes to the area, she’s one of the few choices for local support (She has shared stages with MEN, Class Actress, and Dieselboy.) However, she admits, “You never know what you’re gonna get. The way to go is just play a lot of shows, but it is definitely getting better.”
Although Herring technically already has an EP (Flailing in Attraction) and LP (Satiate) she admits that she’s still a bit new to the process of making music: “I’m probably still under three years at this, but it feels like a lot longer.” She tells me that one of the highlights of her career was when she finally sent the masters of Kite Day off to the label. She also tells me that she feels like this is her most complete record and the one that she’s most proud of. When I ask her if she could characterize the sound of Kite Day, she tells me, “It’s pretty much if I took everything that I listen to genre-wise and put it in a huge bucket. It’s a little down-tempo, there’s a big hip-hop element, it’s dancey at times, it’s all over the place.” She goes on to confess, “I still feel like I’m trying to find a direction,” but says that she kind of enjoys being in-flux, not knowing to where she’ll be pulled.
When I ask Herring if the album contains any songs that she’s especially proud of, or that particularly represent the direction she wants to go in, she’s more than happy to go into a track-by-track commentary of her favorite works. I tell her that my favorite track is “Don’t Fall” (Likely the most popular and lyrically-driven track on the album, as if a present day piano-pop chanteuse was sucked up, deconstructed, and reconstructed by a morbid-leaning postmodernist mastermind of audio.) She tells me that the song is actually probably the first song that was completed for the album and tells me that, while she really likes the song, it’s a bit much for her to take.
“It’s more of an emotional vibe. There’s something in there that has a lot of feeling to. It’s something you can dance to, but is also kind of sad for me. That’s the gut-wrenching one for me”
She also says that she’s quite fond of “Always Just Okay,” because it allows her to indulge in her love of percussion. However, she tells me that her favorite track is “Thinking JFK,” (Which resembles a remix of the heaviest-hearted kind of dream pop, meant for the end of a long night of existential introspection.): “’Thinking JFK’ I love in terms of the songwriting process. And it has a lot of meaning to me.” She tells me that she actually woke up in the middle of the night and came up with the song and was surprised the next morning how happy she was with it. She ultimately went on to do very little more with the track, while she still remains terribly fond of it: “That’s definitely my favorite. It’s all I wanted it to be. It’s really stripped down.”
Herring tells me that what she’s most excited for is the possibility of getting out on the road: “I’m really hoping a tour happens.” She describes her live show as, “A little bit dancier and a little bit more exciting.” Apparently the mid-Atlantic is the first place on her radar, so there’s a decent chance we’ll get to see her before the year’s end. And, I must admit, I’m quite excited to see the badass anarchism of what her live show seems to be: “I take the material I’ve produced off of Kite Day and my earlier recordings, chop up all of the songs, and remix it on the fly.”