Wolf Alice lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s Favourite Things
There aren’t many that can say they’ve toured around Europe with Harry Styles, won a BRIT Award for the Best British Group, and embarked on their own global tour, all in under 365 days. Well, this year, Ellie Rowsell, lead singer of alternative rock band Wolf Alice, is one person who can.
From the band’s humble beginnings as a duo performing at Highbury Garage in 2010, to beating the likes of Liam Gallagher, Billie Eilish and Megan Thee Stallion to win the Best Festival Headliner at the NME Awards 2022, the past 12 years have seen Wolf Alice rise all the way to the top with three critically acclaimed albums under their belt.
And their most recent, Blue Weekend, is no exception. Nominated for a Mercury Prize and given five stars by NME, it’s been a resounding success. It’s an album that’s very close to the artist’s heart: “It was inspired by where I was at that time, my relationships and what I was going through with myself, my friends, my partner and just like a journal.”
It makes sense, then, that her most recent campaign with Bowers & Wilkins is intended to show the importance of music being heard as the artist intends, thanks to the brand’s Px7 S2 headphones that boast high-resolution audio and advanced active noise cancellation to fully immerse you into every performance - you’ll feel like you’re right there beside them.
So we caught up with Ellie in the midst of touring to chat about her Favourite Things. The most interesting part? In her own words, she doesn’t have any.
What have you been up to recently?
We’ve been touring with Harry Styles, doing the UK festival circuit, and getting ready for our own worldwide tour, so it’s been a busy time. I love having the opportunity to watch other artists play. It’s really inspiring, and fun, and it’s a great way to pull in a new audience.
What’s your inspiration behind your album Blue Weekend?
It feels quite old now, it was written pre-pandemic, and then we went to the studios beginning of 2019 and then got kinda trapped when the borders closed and everything shut down. It was written before that but recorded during. It was inspired by where I was at that time, my relationships and what I was going through with myself, my friends, my partner and just like a journal.
Did recording during the pandemic influence the music?
With no tours on the horizon it meant that there was less pressure to get it done quickly, so we could explore more and take our time which does have an impact on the sound - but I could never know how.
Do you have a favorite song from the album?
I feel an emotional response to Lipstick On The Glass, and I really like performing Play The Greatest Hits. Those two are my favorite.
What’s your creative process?
It starts with a feeling and then I build on it, I think that’s the way I work best but I haven’t really tried any other way. That doesn’t mean to say we’ll always do that, and sometimes it’s not even possible because you can’t force a feeling. I keep an open mind and try different routes to get to the song. We do everything together, some songs we write from beginning to end together as a four piece, sometimes we finish each other's work, and other times something belongs just to me or just to one of the other guys. You never know how it's going to work out. The best things come from collaboration, I don’t think it’s possible to create something truly alone.
What are your three favourite albums of all time?
I find that too hard - I’m not that kind of person, I don’t have favourite things.
What artists are you inspired by?
They’re ever changing really - there are people that I’ve been inspired by since I was a kid, some that I no longer find inspiring, and others I’ve just discovered. For some years I’ve loved the work of Alex G - I think he’s one of the most exciting songwriters right now and his sounds are to my taste.
I’ve always loved The Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Queens Of The Stone Age. I find the question hard, there’s no one easy answer because I feel like I’m pigeonholing myself - those are just the people that came to my mind today.
What are you listening to on repeat right now?
I’m going through a bit of a Seventies phase, listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, and George Harrison is always on repeat for me. In terms of new music, I’m loving Alex G, Harry Styles’ newest album, and the music Dijon’s been putting out recently.
Do you have any essentials that bring you comfort on tour?
Not really, I just wish I could take my friends with me. I always take things to amuse myself in between like books, films, and TV programmes.
Do you have a go to on stage look?
It depends on what kind of show I am playing. I try to get dressed up to get into the mood - it's a big deal to play a show so that makes it easier. I like to wear a dress, but I don’t want to look like I’m going out clubbing so I put a pair of boots on. I never do my hair. I just go with one thing that’s smart and everything else is dressed down.
What’s something in your wardrobe you can't live without?
For me it's a tall boot. If I’ve got a tall pair of boots, I feel like I’ll be alright. Even a plain T-shirt looks good with a tall pair of boots. They make you feel really powerful when you find your perfect pair.
Did you enjoy working with Bowers & Wilkins?
Definitely. Sometimes with these things you just get told what to do, but they were up for hearing what we thought about everything, and what we were comfortable with. Speaking to some of the engineers who actually made the headphones I was surprised by how passionate they were. It was cool.
Do you have a career highlight?
I couldn’t possibly say because there have been so many it’s too hard to choose - which is lucky. I think in the most recent times, it would have be my show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. It’s my home, and it was the biggest venue we played, and I was proud of the lights, the stage, the set, and everything.