“You have to just keep making music because you love it and not let a lack of subscribers or followers make you think your music isn’t special.” – Ellie Dixon
At just 18 years old, Ellie Dixon is already a superstar. The rest of the world just doesn’t know it yet. I don’t claim to know the formula for success in the music biz, but I do know musical talent when I hear it (and see it). As soon as I heard Ellie’s music and witnessed her videos with my own two eyes, I knew I had stumbled onto someone special who has all the makings of a superstar. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised to see that many of Ellie’s videos had view counts in the hundreds, instead of the thousands or hundreds of thousands of views that they deserve.
If you were to only focus on the play count on her videos or the amount of subscribers she has, you may disagree with my assessment that Ellie is a superstar, but you’d be missing the point. Ellie’s not focused on metrics – she’s laser focused on expressing her creativity, honing her craft, and making great music and music videos. To put it simply, Ellie Dixon is doing everything right and it’s just a matter of time before the rest of the world catches on.
Whenever I post a Favorite Find, I like to think back to how I originally came across the musician. My journey to Ellie’s music began six years ago when I first heard Aloe Blacc’s “I Need a Dollar”. This song was the theme song for a show on HBO called “How to Make It in America” that chronicled two friends trying to make it big in the fashion business in New York. The song perfectly captures the vibe of the show and the hustle of the main characters, and I’ve been a fan of the song ever since. I knew there had to be some great covers of it on YouTube, so I set out to find the best one I could. Check out the show’s intro below:
When I found Ellie Dixon’s cover, I knew it couldn’t be topped and I ended my search right then and there. Turning coins and paper money into instruments, Ellie creates an incredibly unique rhythm section that forms the backbone of the song. Couple that with her perfectly minimalistic guitar playing, flawless voice, and awesome video production, and you’ve got a recipe for a viral cover song. The only thing is – this song hasn’t gone viral…yet. Check it out below:
In the YouTube world, it’s often best to stay away from the comments section under videos because it can be a hateful place inhabited by trolls. Not so with Ellie’s videos – the comments under her videos reaffirm my faith in humanity because they are filled with praise, admiration, and the understandable confusion about why Ellie’s cover songs haven’t gone viral yet.
- Your voice is amazing
- You deserve way more subs!
- Nicely Done! One of the best ever!
- I really love your voice and the creativity of the instruments in this cover! Very much look forward to seeing more from you!
- Wow, not sure how you’re not more popular! Keep it up!
- Amazing as always ^_^
Naturally, once I found this incredible cover, I binged on everything else I could find on Ellie’s YouTube channel and on her Soundcloud account. In the interest of keeping things as short and sweet as possible, I’ll just link to two of my other favorite videos that Ellie has posted on YouTube but PLEASE do yourself a favor and binge on all of Ellie’s music!
This first song is Ellie’s cover of “Lush Life” by Zara Larsson. As I mentioned in my last Favorite Finds interview with Bryce Bangs, the best way to experience a song is to listen to it first-hand, not to read someone else’s interpretation of the song. So here you go!
I mean, come on! That level of talent and musicianship is unreal! Not only is using rubber bands as the rhythm and bass sections of a song incredibly difficult, but it sounds AMAZING! The only thing more amazing than the creativity of this song is Ellie’s unique and unmistakable voice.
If you thought it couldn’t get any better than that in terms of sound, creativity, and quality, you’d be wrong. If I told you that you needed to immediately stop what you were doing and listen to a cover of Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” where the “instruments” include wine glasses, an empty plastic water bottle, and a scissors, you’d probably think I was crazy – but let me prove you wrong:
There’s no question in my mind that Ellie Dixon is on her way to musical stardom, so I feel very fortunate that Ellie was kind enough to do this interview as part of our second installment of the Favorite Finds series. Enjoy!
What’s your story?
I’m from Cambridge, England and I grew up in and around the area. I’ve always played instruments from a young age; I started with piano (had lessons from the age of about 7), messed around with the clarinet for a bit, then taught myself guitar once singing became more serious. I always sang in school choirs but never really took it seriously until I started singing lessons as part of my music GCSE. I was very shy until I played a cover of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ to my teacher which she loved and encouraged me to do more. My teacher then really pushed me from there and I kept doing covers and then naturally transitioned into writing my own songs. Funnily enough, my teacher (Joanna Eden) was Sam Smith’s singing teacher as well before he got big! Everything naturally evolved from there, writing my own songs, performing them in the school concerts, then starting to do gigs around Cambridge and producing my songs more professionally.
Is music your full-time gig or is it more of a hobby?
I’m currently a student so what is a hobby and what is full-time is a bit more fluid. I took Music as a GCSE and Music Technology as an A Level, but I’m going to be studying Maths at University next year so I guess it is moving further out of my academic life. I am hoping however to still be able to balance the two throughout my University life as I really want to keep gigging and making as much music as possible.
Do you have a band or are you a solo musician?
I am a solo artist, although performing with a band at some point would be fantastic!
What genre(s) is your music classified under?
This one is always a hard question! Currently, I think mellow pop would best describe it, especially the latest stuff on my EP. My music has moved much more from folk to pop in the last few years thanks to a lot more technology at my disposal (I am no longer just a girl and a guitar).
What instruments do you play?
I play piano and guitar.
Who is your musical idol or your favorite band and what’s your favorite song of theirs?
I don’t know if I really have any idols! My tastes change a lot and I listen to a lot of genres of music. I have a lot of single songs from artists that I adore which makes it so hard to pick one! At the moment however I would have to say I am loving Ady Suleiman, a British R&B artist. My favourite song of his is called ‘What’s the Score?’ which I would definitely recommend checking out!
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
The best concert I’ve been to was actually quite a small one here in Cambridge; it was by an indie rock band called ‘Peace‘ who I absolutely love. It was one of my first concerts and the atmosphere was really incredible. I also remember it because of quite how much of an endurance test it was..! It was so incredibly hot and required a lot of jumping to stay on your feet so afterwards me and my friends all ran out and lay on the ground in the pouring rain for about ten minutes to recover!
Your cover songs are incredible! It looks like they must take a ton of time to record and produce. Tell us a bit about how you come up with ideas for the covers (using rubber bands!) and how you record and produce them.
Recording and producing is something I absolutely adore so I barely notice how long they take to record! Inspiration for covers tends to come very randomly, but sometimes I will hear a song and immediately think ‘I have to do something with this’ so I will rush upstairs to my parents’ bedroom (to my little ‘home studio’) and get to work. I use a microphone and a MacBook with the program ‘Logic’ which I use to make all of my music. Being able to record and do everything myself at home makes everything so easy because I can do everything whenever I want on my own terms. More recently I have been making my DIY covers which I think I have enjoyed making the most. I’m a total musical experimenter and absolutely love creative stuff like this and have seen lots of similar things on YouTube and it is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, so it’s great to finally have some time (now in the summer holidays!) to be able to mess around with stuff like wine glasses and rubber bands.
When it comes to your original music, what’s your creative process and where do you get your inspiration to write new music?
My original music is very much about getting a specific sound. I tend to start by finding a chord sequence or a guitar picking pattern I like, record it, and then layer up a sound around it. Lyrics generally come once I have a sound as I try to mold the words around the music rather than writing with a specific theme or message in mind. Inspiration can come from all sorts of places but listening to other music and trying to play other peoples’ songs always gives me loads of ideas of my own. You can find my EP ‘Looking Forward‘ on iTunes or Spotify by searching my name (Ellie Dixon) or the name of the album.
If someone could listen to only one of your original songs and only one of your covers, what would you want them to listen to and why?
For my originals, I would have to say ‘Survive’ (on my EP); it is one of my more emotional tracks and took me the longest to write and produce. I love the sound of the chorus because it has the mix of acoustic instruments and electronic sounds that I like to play around with, it is also very much in the musical direction that I want to keep moving towards. For covers, I think I would have to say my cover of ‘Can’t Feel my Face’ by The Weeknd (can be found on my YouTube) because I really like the dramatic, stripped back start and I had so much fun really changing the sound of the song.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve played and why?
I would probably say my second ever gig. It was at The Junction in Cambridge and was part of a showcase for local young musicians run by an organisation called ‘The Acoustic Project’ and it was really one of the first times I got to properly perform my songs to a crowd. The audience was so fantastic and I got to meet a load of other musicians all playing there as well and I got a really fantastic response to my songs. It was one of the first times I realised I loved performing and sharing my music.
Do you have any tips for fellow musicians that may help them have success and gain more exposure for their music?
Keep going! I’m very much still in the process of expanding my audience and it really takes a lot of patience. You have to just keep making music because you love it and not let a lack of subscribers or followers make you think your music isn’t special because there are so many variables involved. First and foremost, you write your music for yourself, so just keep at it and the only way is up.
Give a shout-out to anyone who has helped or inspired you along your musical journey!
Where do I begin! Thank you to my GCSE music teacher for really pushing me into performing (a push I definitely needed!), my singing teacher for encouraging me so much in my songwriting and giving me so much confidence, a massive thank you to my friends for always singing my lyrics back to me and keeping me believing in myself, and of course the biggest thank you to my parents for supporting me every step of the way and giving me everything I needed to get as far as I have today.
What does the future hold for you and your music? Do you have any exciting shows or events coming up?
Currently I’m focusing on writing and recording more material, building up songs and covers on YouTube and also preparing for University! I really want to have more material to release on iTunes and everywhere else in the coming year so keep an ear out for those. I don’t have any big gigs lined up at the moment so just keep your eyes on my YouTube for more videos as they come!