Meet Lindsay Ellyn, Self-Proclaimed Queen Of Nothing, Her Debut Album Is Out Today
A New Jersey native, Lindsay Ellyn’s creativity blossomed at an early age, playing piano and then switching to guitar in high school. She studied at The Fashion Institute of Technology, moved to New York and worked in various aspects of the fashion industry before making the move to Nashville. She is also an animal advocate and has volunteered at Emmy Lou Harris’ Bonaparte’s Retreat. Her debut full-length album, Queen of Nothing is mostly autobiographical, the good, the bad and the not so pretty. Queen of Nothing is out today via Hail Mary Records/Queue Records.
AnaLee: Congratulations on releasing your debut album, Lindsay! Queen of Nothing is the album title and also the first song you released and it really sets the tone for the record. There’s a lot to digest here, but I find your honest and personal storytelling style refreshing and quite relatable, especially as we begin to emerge from this last year. The feeling that none of us is perfect and we just keep on keeping on is prevalent through these songs. Tell us a little about writing for this album.
Lindsay: Thank you! Some of these songs I wrote shortly before we started recording, some of them I wrote years ago when I was living in New York. These songs are really a collection of personal experiences, but I think a lot of the themes on this album are universal and I hope people can relate to the writing.
AnaLee: You recorded the majority of the record at the Smoakstack, just days before the tornado ripped through Nashville last year and then of course the pandemic really changed everything. Somehow, you managed to complete the recording after lockdown started. Did the events of early 2020 change the outcome you had in mind for the album or is it just as you saw it pre-pandemic/tornado?
Lindsay: Thankfully, we recorded the bones of the album right before that tornado hit and pre-Covid when we could all be together - and looking back, that was so important. That creative collaboration is critical, and I’m really grateful we got to do that before everything locked down. I say this with great sensitivity, as I realize the pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time for the world, but it didn’t derail this album process at all. If anything, the music industry coming to a standstill kind of gave me the opportunity to work on my own timeline without the pressure of having to get something done and released quickly. As a self-funded artist, I work at a slower pace as my budget allows, so I just kept taking on more and more freelance gigs in addition to my full-time gig, and was able to tackle this album over the course of the year.AnaLee: You wrote this entire album on your own but the recording experience was definitely collaborative. Would you tell us about your crew?
Lindsay: I’d love to. Brendan St. Gelais, who produced the album and played on it as well, was a great partner in this process and I have Brendan to thank for bringing the core band to the table - Jake Finch on drums, Andrew Brown on bass, and Austin Webb on guitar. Incredible players, and wonderful humans, to boot. I can’t imagine making this album without Austin’s brain and talent. He created so many amazing moments in these songs and his playing really helped shape the creative direction. My husband, Taylor Alexander, also played rhythm guitar on the album, and it’s always fun when Taylor and I get to be a part of each other’s work. Ellie Turner and Kiely Connell are two amazing songwriters who I’m lucky to call friends, and they sang background vocals on the album. I admire their work so much, so it was an honor to have them be a part of this. Jason Eskridge also sang background vocals on Glory Glory, and anyone who has heard Jason sing knows what a phenomenal artist he is. He recorded vocals remotely at the height of the pandemic and went above and beyond to give us something to work with. Jason really helped usher that song to new heights.We also had a handful of really talented players come in for a song or two—my friend Tom Schreck played accordion, Reed Pittman played some B3, we had Sam Wilson play pedal steel on a few songs, and John Collins McLaughlin played the beautiful, haunting violins on “Where You’re Going.”When the songs were finished, we brought everything to Kyle Dreaden who mixed the album and was an incredible partner throughout the process. Kyle also brought Brian Lucey to the project for mastering.It really takes a village to make an album, and this album would not be what it is without these amazing people. I’m so thankful I got to work with them.AnaLee: Your husband Taylor is an artist we’ve featured on The Local Brew many times, we’re big fans. A few years ago, right before your wedding, you and Taylor spoke at a TEDx conference about change. You talked about changing things up in the creative process. Can you tell us a little about that experience at TEDx and how, if at all, it changed for you and Taylor as musical collaborators?
Lindsay: That was a really special experience. It was just an honor to be there and get to meet some of the other speakers who are literally changing the world. One of the speakers was Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, a renowned fetal surgeon who performs life-saving surgeries on fetuses in the womb. I remember Taylor and I watching him speak and we looked at each other like, what the hell are we doing here? Taylor and I don’t co-write much, so it was a fun challenge to try and write something together. And... we hated every moment of it. Ha! We write better alone, and that’s the process we stick to. I work in the creative department at an ad agency, and it’s kind of an agency trope that creatives hate when clients ask for a “work-in-progress share.” At work we try to avoid that at all costs! And, it’s kind of the same in my household. Taylor and I typically don’t even hear each other’s songs until it’s go-time in a recording session. Even though we share a life, and a home, and a creative space, we share very little creative work with each other until a song is essentially “done.” It sounds strange, I know...but it works for us.
AnaLee: Do you have any upcoming shows in town and are you planning to hit the road now that concerts are slowly coming back?
Lindsay: With my full-time job it’s tough for me to get out on the road, but I hope to get out for some weekend runs! I’m working on booking some dates as we speak, and I’m putting together an event at Mother’s Ruin during AmericanaFest week in September — more details on that soon!
Lindsay Ellyn, “Queen of Nothing”