Elliott Blaufuss Releases Debut Full Length, The Sea Between Us
Discovering life while touring in a band at just 17 years old, Nashville’s Elliott Blaufuss is releasing his first full length solo recording, an album called The Sea Between Us. As a multi-instrumentalist he played the acoustic and electric guitars, bass and keyboards and got creative with glockenspiel, accordion, melodica, vocals and more. He also enlisted the help of some stellar players to give this album its fully realized sound. I was intrigued by the album’s title; he sums it up by saying, “the distance and depth between us can be isolating or it can be the fabric which ties us all together, it's only perspective that makes the difference.” The Sea Between Us is out tomorrow. Tune in to WMOT Sunday at 8am or Monday at 7pm to hear “Dead End Street” from the album on The Local Brew Hour.
AnaLee: I know you spent some time on a horse ranch in Montana, I was curious about where you were born and first started discovering music, what led you to Montana and how your time spent among the equines and nature influenced your path?
Elliott: I was born and raised in Chanhassen MN, across the lake from Prince’s house and studio and my dad taught me guitar at the age of 8 with a traditional Irish tune and a handful of Beatles and Dylan to follow. My brother lives in Montana and I went there during much of 2020. Nature has always been constant in my life and my writing and it was good to connect to a new side of that. Learning about horses and that chapter was about being quiet and trying to listen.
AnaLee: Congratulations on releasing your first full length album. The title really drew me in. The Sea Between Us feels romantic and nostalgic and I just couldn’t wait to find out what informed the songs for the album and how you came to that title.
Elliott: I love that it felt romantic to you. These songs came from a lot of isolation and realizing what people in the world meant to me, what I lost in not being around them for a long time. The sea between us could be - the city you live in, thinking we need money to be kind, or a guy named Brice who doesn’t believe that he deserves love. It’s anything that keeps us apart from each other in a time that exposed that in a very unique way.
AnaLee: The first release from the album was the track, “Dive Motel”. It really paints a picture of life on the road through an upbeat catchy pop melody while conveying the loneliness that comes along with the adventure. Can you tell us about making the video and how and where you fell in love with flowered bedspreads and ashtrays?
Elliott: My girlfriend shot the video one afternoon at the Fiddler’s Inn in Opryland, I’ve spent plenty of time in motel parking lots and I just wanted it to feel like that. I went on the road at the age of 17 with a midwestern institutional band called the Johnny Holm Band, who has been touring since 1968 and still does 200 shows a year. Johnny taught me to really love a motel and the people who work there. We used to stay at the Motel 75 in Moorhead, MN a lot and that’s where it all got started for me. I wrote this song at the Deerfield Inn, in western TN. I find Motels the easiest place to write and while I was there on the road, I wanted to honor the tattered waysides I’ve stayed in so much.
AnaLee: You played something like thirteen instruments on this recording, plus had contributions from some ace players. Talk about recording the album, what you played, where you made it and who else added to the full sound you achieved on The Sea Between Us.
Elliott: I recorded it over the course of a year in my old studio in Brentwood, and I was pretty dug in and singularly focused. I played - Vocals, Acoustic/Electric Guitars, Mandolin, Accordion, Bass, Keyboards, Rhodes, Hammond B3, Tenor Sax, Flute, Melodica, Drums, Percussion, Glockenspiel. I had the beautiful Scottish lilted vocals of Sara Douglas on “M’aingeal”, Matt Menefee played banjo and a wonderful Mandolin performance on “Shiny Hazel Gumdrops”, Cody Angel on Pedal Steel and Giovanni Rodriguez on Upright Bass and Congas on “One Broken Heart”.
AnaLee: A man of many talents, you also shot and edited the album cover art. Is photography or art design another passion of yours?
Elliott: I love photography and have done it for years though It’s just for my fun and creative stimulation. I’ve done much of my designs/videos over the past years just out of necessity but I do enjoy it. When I was staying at the Deerfield Inn, the night I wrote "Dive Motel", I set up a camera tripod on the bed and just took a few self-timer shots, and that’s where the cover came from. I had some other pictures I maybe liked more but this one felt honest to the time.
AnaLee: Can you tell us about your album release show, fittingly at The Dive Motel in North Nashville Thursday night, March 9th?
Elliott: I’m very excited for my release show! The Dive Motel was kind enough to let me rip off their name for a song AND use their space for a release party. It couldn’t be at a better spot! Also, I always change my band up and it just felt right for this show that I would be accompanied by two lovely female singers, so it will be a trio of myself, Makena Hartlin and Kayley Bishop and I can’t wait for it! I’m also pressing vinyl for the first time in my life and that’s a big deal for me, they will be available Thursday at the Dive Motel. See ya’ there. Thanks Ana!