Electronic Music Guyd, Phil Marriott talks to Katherine Ellis, vocalist supreme of the Freemasons…
Katherine Ellis is one of the most respected and versatile vocalists and topline writers in the industry today, who along with Freemasons, scored a UK top 40 hit with ‘When You Touch Me’ back in 2008. Freemasons – aka James Wiltshire and Russell Small, are two of the most successful dance producers and DJs on the scene. They’ve left a huge imprint on the club charts in the last decade, with dance tracks produced for Kylie, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Beyoncé and George Michael.
Fast forward to 2013, and the power trio are back with a brand new track, ‘Tears,’ set for release in the Spring…
PM: So. You are back with Freemasons. Excited much?
KE: Very! I love working with them!
PM: The song is ‘Tears.’ A birdie tells us there might be an interesting story regarding genuine tears during the recording…
KE: Indeed! I was very tired on the day, and I didn’t feel very well at all. The day before I’d been in the studio with Ben Onono, and we wrote a lovely song called ‘Cold Light Of Day’. Ben went back to London, and I stayed at the Pelirocco – my home from home in Brighton. I felt terrible when I woke up, so went back to bed after breakfast. I checked out at 12, and walked along the seafront to the studio. Not being one to moan when I’m working, I didn’t mention that I wasn’t feeling good, but I guess it made me feel more vulnerable. I’m a firm believer in using whatever you have within you on the day to the full, so I went for it, and yes, at one point I did cry! But to be honest, I cry quite often. I enjoy my emotions, and try not to censor them. Knowing Russell and James as I do, they weren’t fazed and went with it, and I think it really added to the emotional delivery of the vocal.
PM: What are James and Russell (aka Freemasons) really like to work with? We want gossip.
KE: In the studio, Russell is fairly laid back, and James is more hyper. It’s a great combination! They are both inspirational and full of ideas, and very funny in their own ways. We always laugh a lot. They know what they want, and also what they don’t want, which is important. They are brilliant when performing live, too. Both of them are outstanding DJs, they are very down to earth and really supportive of everyone they’re touring with. There are no airs and graces or attitude. They are also very fair and upfront in business dealings. OMG, I think they might be perfect!
PM: Who’s the biggest diva? You, Russell or James?
KE: We all have our moments, but it’s got to me hasn’t it!
PM: What’s your biggest demand when touring?
KE: Room-temperature water on stage! Seat belts! I won’t travel in a car without seat belts. It’s on my rider, along with steps up to the stage. Read the contract! I have refused to get into cars without seat belts, and have demanded steps. I get very vocal about my basic needs being met. If that’s being a Diva, then yes I am one!
The first time I went to Australia with Freemasons, the hotel wasn’t ready for us when we arrived in Sydney, and when I finally got my room, it had two single beds! Hello! I complained, and was kept waiting for an hour. I called reception again later to ask what was happening about changing my room. I got pretty angry when I was told there was nothing available, and the guy hung up on me! I called back – livid by this point – and was upgraded to a penthouse room on the 43rd floor, complete with fabulous view and a chaise lounge for the duration of my stay.
PM: The Freemasons are renowned, and celebrated, for working with the biggest and best female singers. Is there any rivalry between you and the other girls?
KE: Not as far as I know. I can’t sing on every dance record can I!
PM: The first time we heard ‘Tears’ at GuySpy, we all had goosebumps. Is that the effect you were wanting?
KE: I always set out to write/perform songs that touch people in some way. Some are more successful than others. This track feels very special, so I’m glad you’re feeling it at GuySpy!
PM: One of your other Freemasons collaborations is ‘When You Touch Me’. Has an overzealous fan ever touched you on your body?
KE: Indeed! I often invite ‘touching’, but I demand respect. 99% of people are very courteous and will take my hand, kiss my ring (ooh-er Matron!), stroke my arm or even my leg! All in fun of course. Sadly in Warsaw, a lady once came up behind me and smacked my arse without me being asked. I was on a podium in heels. It was a very stupid and dangerous thing to do, so she had to be removed, I’m afraid!
PM: You are a tour-de-force when you perform live. Where does the energy come from?
KE: I live for the moment when I’m on stage. It’s a chance to really live and give my all. I don’t take anything for granted, and I’m acutely aware that life is finite and the future unknown, therefore I perform as if it’s my last ever show every time. I love to unite people and raise them up. I know I can do it, so I always strive for that event to occur. I would be cheating myself and the audience if I didn’t.