Features - Interviews

Texture and Physicality with ELLLL


Having featuring as an Inbound act in the second issue of our magazine, Cork-based producer Ellen King AKA ELLLL has well and truly kicked into gear with recent release ‘Romance’, a self-professed “beat-driven collage with a playful and sinister narrative”. Touching on her creative process, Irish electronic music and what the future holds, King talks to fellow Cork native Mike McGrath Bryan. Photos by Louise Adelaide McKeown.

How did ELLLL start? Where does Ellen King end and ELLLL begin?

I had been writing some music as an undergrad and was approached to play live. I needed a name. So, that’s how it came about. Initially the music I was writing under the ELLLL moniker was a break away from music I had been writing for college. In my mind at that time, they were two separate things. By now it’s one and the same. Things become an amalgamation over time.

Take us through the process of creating a piece/composition of yours.

I spend a lot of time chopping up audio into very tiny samples before eventually collaging different elements together. I could be hoarding samples for months before I actually decide to do anything with them. I don’t like to have too many components or things get muddled. I think it’s more interesting to try push yourself to create variation of one sound then just have loads of different sounds. It forces you to be more creative with effects, manipulations, form etc. It’s important to strip things back and try and stretch the foundations to its limits, rather then continuously adding more in.

Your newer material has moved out of ambient territory and directly into more techno and beatsy stuff. What was the rationale behind the move?

I think it was a natural progression. I had always played with different rhythmic trops and minimalist beats but the focus had been mainly textural. The live shows I’ve been doing over the past two years in particular have been predominantly more beat driven compared to when I started. The textural aspect is still important but now it’s more of a marriage between the two.

I think a lot of it stems from finding your voice as a producer and the confidence that comes with that. In the beginning you’re finding your feet, there’s a lot of trial and error, experimentation; certainly in a live setting. I definitely feel there’s more maturity sound wise with where I’m at now then when I started. I partly owe that to attending a lot more live electronic shows too, which definitely rubbed off on me. There’s a physicality that comes with beat driven electronics in a live context that really appeals to me. It’s certainly something I’ve tried to incorporate in my own sets. That feeling you get when you walk into a club and a kick smacks you in the face. That’s infectious.

You’ve recently got some love for the newer material, including the 405 and slots at Cork Film Festival, what’s it been like?

It’s been great! The film festival was a really good opportunity to explore new territory in terms of an A/V set, working with a visual artist too, the whole thing came together really well. Likewise with the 405, I just sent them a track on the off chance they might like it and they really went for it. The feedback I’ve been getting has been totally unprecedented. It’s definitely a nice feeling when people recognise there’s good in something your doing.


What was supporting Tim Hecker like?

It was a super experience. I’ve had a big appreciation for his work for sometime. He was very down to earth and encouraging about what I’m at.

Who do you consider to be your favourites or people to watch in Irish contemporary electronic music?

I’m probably not half as clued in as I should be but I’d always look to the likes of Bap to the Future crew in Galway and more recently the Lower Your Expectations night in Limerick to point me in the right direction. They’re great for showcasing Irish talent. I’ve a lot of respect for what they’re doing, they’re constantly shining the light on acts that otherwise might not get to play live/DJ so often.

Cork’s scene is undergoing a bit of a renaissance at the moment, turning over as it does with the opening and closure of venues, arrival and departure of people. What do you think of it at the moment?

At the moment the Cork scene seems to be dedicated to more commercial electronic music. Not that’s there’s anything wrong with that, but it would certainly be nice to see more diversity in the scene. There doesn’t seem to be much room for anything left of field, nor a venue for it (with a late licence too!). It’s a city crying out for more investment and a dedicated club like venue to let it flourish. I feel like there are a lot of DJs and artists in the city who have a lot to offer but no space to do it in.

What next for ELLLL?

I’m really gunning to get a physical release out this year and playing more live shows with new material. I’ve more A/V work in the pipe line in collaboration with Louise Adelaide Mckeown, a new dance floor focused project titled DOUBLE GLAZE in conjunction with Ian Mc Innerney (Black Mariah/ Stranger), and also continuing to work on the improvised electronics project WRY MYRRH with Irene Buckley.

Contributor, distributor & occasional Cork correspondent for The Thin Air, as well as Broadsheet.ie, Cork's Evening Echo and others. Likes some things, dislikes other things. Tweets, Instagrams and Snapchats at @mike_mcgb.