So you are from Asheville, and now based in Austin. Would you say your music is more influenced by your upbringing, or your current situation?
Jelly- Asheville will always remain to be a deeply-rooted source of inspiration. There, mystic Blue Ridge mountains exude a very unique vibe that naturally seeps into my songwriting. Most recently I have gained a lot of inspiration from the talented musicians and tightly knit community who make up the Austin scene. Austin is very guitar-centric, and has inspired songs like “Set Me Free” and “Crosstown,” while my acoustic arrangements have been greatly inspired by the mountain landscape of Asheville. I would say my musical inspiration comes from a mixture of both cities, which individually have a very strong vibration.
Most people go through a phase in life, when music helps them overcome an obstacle, was there a time when a band or a song really got you through something?
Jelly- Most definitely, I feel like the music we listen to yields great insight into a certain period of our lives. In high school I remember breaking my wrist playing basketball. In my recovery I played the Red Hot Chili Peppers Live at Slane Castle DVD on repeat. During that time, I made the decision that I wanted to play music for the rest of my life after seeing the deep connection and chemistry that the band had with both the fans and with each other on stage. I desired to feel that connection one day with my band mates and fans. Something about that concert was magical, and that’s what I love about music.
What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Jelly- Two words: LED ZEPPELIN. I’m so thankful that while growing up my dad would blast Led Zeppelin on the stereo. In my younger years I played only classical guitar, and when I heard Jimmy Page incorporate elements of classical guitar into rock n’ roll, I was immediately hooked and knew that’s exactly what I wanted to do. I had the chance to meet Jimmy back in 2014, and was able to thank him for his inspiration that feeds me daily as a musician.
If you and your favorite band had to cover one of each other’s songs, which musician would you choose, and which songs would you exchange to play for each other?
Jelly- My favorite band currently is Rival Sons, they seriously kick ass. If we had to cover each other’s songs I would have to pick their lead singer Jay Buchanan. I would love for him to sing with me on my tune “Crosstown” with his soaring and earth-shattering bluesy voice. If I were to play one of their songs, I would love to play on their Zeppelin-esque tune “Open My Eyes,” a very dynamic tune with one of my favorite guitar riffs.
Defining your own music is always difficult, so let’s switch it up! If you had to compare your album to a piece of art in a different medium (film, fine art, theater, etc.) which piece of art would you choose?
Jelly- Great question, I feel that my music would be best compared to a watercolor painting that incorporates many different colors that blend into each other, while still keeping an underlying theme. This debut album was a chance for me to reveal my many musical personalities. I wanted to show my true colors as a songwriter, producer, and singer. Most people view me as a “guitar player,” and it was a goal of mine to reach beyond just being known as that. The underlying theme a mist all the different types of songs is that I hoped to keep it rock n’ roll at the core.
You are on tour, and you just came back from the North East. Do you have a story from tour (past or present) you would like to share?
Jelly- Yes the North East was a really great time, it’s always great to get back up there to play in NYC and Boston, some of my favorite cities to play. A highlight of the this recent run is we played at a very unique venue in Marlboro, NY called The Falcon. They have a rock n’ roll museum inside the venue of really rare concert posters and memorabilia from Woodstock of 69′. The venue is only an hour away from Bethel, NY where Woodstock took place They had one of Bob Dylan’s old guitars that he played in the poet Alan Ginsberg’s NYC apartment back in 1969. They had a vintage bass that was played at the actual Woodstock festival, as well as a few Grammy’s that were donated by Rick Danko, guitarist of The Band. It was a really cool vibe and experience to play in a room with such rich rock n’ roll history. Woodstock was such a groundbreaking event for not only music, but for all of the counterculture movement.
Thanks for your time! What is the next big move for Jelly Ellington?
Jelly- Thanks for having me and featuring my debut album! I’m currently shooting a new music video to “Let Go” off the debut album. I was able to link up with my good friend Philly G (who is featured on the song) while I was in Boston to be apart of the filming, and I’m very excited to put it out here in the next couple of weeks! I’m currently writing for the next album, which already is turning out to be a pretty spicy batch of tunes! – SE