Friday, 6 January 2017

Feature: The Little Unsaid (06/01/17)


John Elliott is the multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter behind The Little Unsaid. At the end of a long period of caring for a loved one recovering from a suicide attempt, Elliott was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after suffering an emotional breakdown himself. One year on, after a gradual return to a relentless touring schedule, Elliott and his band were back in the studio working on a new album. They've sold out their last three shows in London and played to increasingly packed venues across the UK. Now the latest single to be self-released is 'Symptomatic'...

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?
I’d struggled my way through piano lessons from a young age, but I think I really started to engage with music when my friends and I started bands in high school. After muddling my way through years of piano exams and trying to learn these pieces of music I couldn’t really connect with, let alone play properly, suddenly there’s an electric guitar in your hands and you’re with your best friends in some community hall screaming your guts out thinking ‘yes! This is it! I get it now.’ Then it’s all about expressing yourself and being free and connecting with people. I’ve loved it ever since.

2. What has been the most inspiring musical performance you've ever seen?
PJ Harvey at Glastonbury this summer was the most recent show that completely blew my brains out. It was monumentally moving and exhilarating, all so well put together and her movement and gesture was so subtle but remarkable, wailing ‘to bring you my love’ in such a menacing yet comforting way to a field of thousands of drenched people. I remember marching away through the knee-deep mud feeling so energized and inspired.

3. Who have you been listening to lately?
Sleaford Mods, Radiohead, Yussef Kamall and lots and lots and lots of Leonard Cohen.

3 Qs for The Little Unsaid:

1. Being a multi-instrumentalist, what is your favourite instruments to play and why?
It changes a lot of the time. The phrase ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ comes to mind – if you stay mediocre at lots of instruments, wrestling with them in turn is always going to bring some varied creative challenges and happy accidents. Right now I’m mostly enjoying wrestling the piano.

2. You've just been on a UK tour, was there a stand out moment for you, and if so, what was it?
I remember at the Lexington in London, the last gig of the tour, we finished with a new song called Day is Golden, which is very tender and gentle. It’s an indescribable feeling when you can feel a whole room full of people engaging with your little song so respectfully and silently, and I felt it then in such an intense way. Probably because it was the final moment of such an intense two months of touring. That was a pretty special moment, time definitely stopped for me during that one song.

3. What process did you go through creating 'Symptomatic' and how much did it differ to your previous releases?
It was a late addition to the new album because I wasn’t sure I’d get it finished in time. I’d been laboring away over this piano part that bounced between 4/4 and 5/4, trying to figure out what arrangements should be weaved around it. After lots of trial and error, stripping it back to its most simple elements was how it was finished – just the piano, the string arrangement and a simple drum machine loop fluttering away. Sometimes not letting unnecessary complexity and production clog the meaning of a song is a tricky thing for me to avoid. This was one of those rare songs that came together without gallons of blood and sweat in the process and said exactly what needed to be said.

Random Q:

Where in the world would you most like to visit?
New Zealand. And also China. And also India. And Canada. And I’d like to go to Iceland again. The list is long, there’s so much to explore on this lovely little rock, isn’t there?

'Symptomatic' Review:
'Symptomatic' is a very cinematic song, easily imagined as part of a film's soundtrack, the emotion and honesty that it holds is brought to life with John's vocals and the layered and complex music of the track. The stunning strings and gently pounding drums create an ethereal soundscape that takes the listener to the spaced out world that is portrayed in the music video and I think that reflects just how great The Little Unsaid's music really is... 


The Little Unsaid's Links:

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