Interview: Ellen Hayes

Could you share the story behind your latest song and what inspired its creation?

My latest track “Another Chance” was inspired by a message a minister preached at church. Another Chance came to mind when the minister was going through his testimony during the message. When I got home, I asked God to give me something to say with that title. Then the memories of my healing and the deliverance of my family members started to flood my mind giving me an abundance words to put together. Although I couldn’t use them all, but through much trial and error I think we landed a pretty good song of encouragement.

How do you approach the process of songwriting, and are there any specific themes or emotions you tend to explore in your music?

My songwriting process encompasses diverse approaches. At times, I am inspired by music, letting it guide my pen with its emotional pull. Other moments, the writing spirit ignites within me, and I compose until clarity emerges. Experimenting with piano chords often sparks the creation of a song. I begin in one direction, and the composition unfolds organically. My lyrics aim to uplift and illuminate the presence of Jesus Christ, spreading encouragement. I seek to craft tunes that bring joy and evoke spiritual awakenings in listeners.

As an indie musician, how do you navigate the balance between creative freedom and commercial appeal?

As an indie artist, I begin each song with my original compositions, striving to harness my fullest creative potential. While my songs resonate authentically, I acknowledge their lack of commercial viability. To bridge this gap, I collaborate with adept musicians who grasp my artistic vision, transforming it into reality. Selecting talents harmonious with the essence of a divinely inspired piece is pivotal. Crafting a distinct style that mirrors both my essence and the chosen musicians’ is paramount to my artistic journey.

What do you find most challenging about being an independent artist in today’s music industry?

For me, the most daunting task as an independent artist is navigating the intricate world of music marketing. Without the support of major record labels, promoting a song can be a costly and draining endeavor. Whether handling marketing independently or enlisting professional assistance, the process can be demanding. Nonetheless, as artists, we must champion ourselves avidly, placing unwavering faith in the talents bestowed upon us by a higher power. This means putting forth unparalleled effort, matching or surpassing the dedication of those we engage to aid us on this artistic expedition.

Can you talk about your experiences collaborating with other artists or musicians? How does it influence your creative process?
I love collaborations because different people have different ideas, opinions, styles and more. Bringing those talents together can create beautiful masterpieces that will outlast our lives here on Earth. It also inspires me to be a better writer and composer. I am always looking for ways to enhance my gift. I have Collaborated with strong musicians, producers and writers like A. Jeffrey LaValley, Michael Mindingall and Sean Hardin, which all brought different creative gifts to the table. I am also looking forward to expanding my collaborative efforts in the near future.

What role does technology and social media play in promoting your music and connecting with your audience?

In today’s world, technology and social media are crucial for promoting music. They allow for global connections and widespread music distribution, a feat unimaginable in the past. With a simple click, music reaches audiences worldwide, bridging the gap between artists and fans. From the comfort of your home, you can expand your fan base and engage with your audience on a personal level before even meeting them. This digital age offers unparalleled opportunities for growth and connection in the music industry.

Are there any particular artists or genres that have had a significant impact on your musical style?

I grew up listening to the styles of Vanessa Bell, Charlene Bell Andre Crouch, Aretha Franklin gospel music, Walter and Edwin Hawkins, the Winans, Fred Hammond, Commissioned, and more. Many of these artists music was sang in the gospel group I started in from my early twenties until about twenty years forward. Doing something that long is bound to have a lasting impact on your preference for music.

Indie musicians often have a close relationship with their fanbase. How do you engage with your fans and build a dedicated community around your music?
I always try to keep my fan base updated, answer any questions they may have, respond to them on social media posts, and ever so often I get to meet them in person. Every now and then I offer free items such as merch or share downloads of new music. I have artists that I follow and am a fan of. It means so much to me to get a response or a reaction from them when I comment on their posts. It’s a feeling of being noticed or heard. I strive to do the same when someone comments on my posts or messages me as long as it’s not nonsense or an inappropriate post or message.

Could you describe a memorable live performance experience or tour that has had a lasting impact on you and your music? In my early twenties being part of a group was my first experience singing on television as a group. I was nervous and excited at the same time. From there singing the national anthem at once was call The Joe Louis Arena before a boxing match.

In an era of streaming platforms, how do you feel about the changing landscape of music consumption and its impact on independent musicians?

I appreciate the evolving music scene that now empowers independent artists. The rise of streaming platforms has democratized music, giving every independent musician a global stage. The diverse genres within gospel music offer endless creative freedom. As an independent artist, you can craft your music authentically, knowing that there’s a place for your unique talents in this inclusive industry.