It’s been just over three weeks since 16 year old starlet Ellie Drennan won the 2015 season of ‘The Voice’ and from all reports, she’s hardly found the time to scratch herself since. With her album and single both now available and off the back of a series of instore appearances across the country, we caught up for a quick chat with the singer to find out how she’s coping with her new-found fame.
“It’s been crazy. It still doesn’t feel real,” Ellie admits. “Everything’s still happening at the moment, so it’s still really hard to believe that I actually won. I got a weekend off to go home and see my family, but I’ve been doing stuff ever since, so it’s really exciting.”
It’s widely known these days that often artists on record companies’ radars are placed on TV talent programs, in the hope that they’ll amass a bigger following before having careers launched in the shows’ wake. Given Ellie’s history of uploading her covers onto YouTube, we ask whether it was her decision to audition or someone else’s.
“I had a small amount of views on Youtube,” Ellie admits, “And I auditioned for the show because I wanted to get exposure and help make my music get heard by more people. And it worked; one of my videos now has 900,000 views, so it’s really helped me with exposure.”
And a national TV audience has also seen a sizeable jump in her number of Facebook ‘Likes’ and Twitter followers.
“It’s crazy knowing that people actually are supporting me and listening to my music, so it’s really amazing,” she says.
Ellie impressed with a number of her performances on ‘The Voice’, including her audition piece – a cover of Adele’s ‘Take It All’, which caught the attention of coaches Joel and Benji Madden, along with Jessie J, whose team she would join. But it would be her later acoustic-driven cover of Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ that would become (apart from the eventual win) her favourite ‘Voice’ moment.
“It would have had to be ‘I Kissed A Girl’, because I got to sing it with my guitar,” she reveals. “It was really funny… I never perform without my guitar, so ‘I Kissed A Girl’ was really special for me because I finally got to share who I really am.
“I’ve been doing gigs since I was 12 and I’ve always just sung with my guitar. I’ve done gigs where I’ve sung with a band behind me, but really it’s always been me and my guitar. So on most of the shows, it was scary getting up there and not really having something to hide behind. But I got to learn a lot by doing it and experience a whole different feel without it.”
Many in the industry had picked handsome 24 year old New South Wales busker Joe Moore to win the competition, but it was clear the voting public had vastly different ideas, ultimately choosing Ellie as their winner.
“I was standing at the side of the stage after Joe sang his song just convinced that he was going to win,” she admits. “So when they were about to announce the winner, I was stood there thinking, ‘you know what, it doesn’t matter’. And Joe’s amazing, so I honestly thought he was going to win.
“I was preparing myself so much to hear Joe’s name that I didn’t even think about myself winning. So when they said my name, I was kinda thinking, ‘what?’. I was so shocked and all the emotions in my body didn’t know how to react and I just started to cry because I couldn’t believe it was real.”
Ellie’s been a seriously busy girl throughout the past few weeks. Thrust into a number of media interviews, instore appearances, photo shoots, record company meetings and onto music store shelves across the country, with her just-released debut album, the pressure is on. Said pressure is only compounded by the fact that Ellie, who turns 17 next month, is still in high school.
“I’m in Year 11, but on the Central Coast, when Year 12 finishes, Year 11 goes straight into Year 12, so I’m pretty much in Year 12 right now,” she explains.
“I’ve never really been a fan of school. It’s been hard for me because I’ve always had a full passion for music, but my school doesn’t really have a great music program, so I’ve always done stuff out of school. Every day I’m doing music as soon as I get home.”
Naturally, Ellie’s commercial music releases thus far are a representation of her time on a TV talent show, but with her original material, she hopes to showcase her true artistic self, hinting at what we might expect.
“I love Katy Perry and Jessie J. I also love artists like Matt Corby and Angus & Julia Stone, so I’m a bit of a mixture of artists. But I love artists who are really unique and different, so I hope that I can just be myself, make my own music and see what happens.
“I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my music and how I’m going to do it. I’m just trying to gather different ideas and see what happens.
“I’ve been writing songs since I was ten, so that’s probably the main reason why I sing. When I write songs, I can share emotions that I wouldn’t be able to in person. It’s always been something that’s helped me get through a lot of things.”
“I really hope that I can get an album out of my originals, but we’ll see what happens,” she says. “Universal’s been really supportive and have said that when I’m ready to do things next, we can start doing it.
“Writing songs is mainly about being ready and you’ve got to be in the right mindset to write songs and especially to connect to them. They’ve told me that when I’m ready I can let them know.”