InterviewsSpecial Features

Ellen Angelico

Ellen Angelico
Edited with Afterlight

Artists Worked With: Uncle Kracker, Delta Rae, Wheeler Walker Jr., and many others. Starting in February, I’ll be out with the country artist Cam.

Ellen Angelico

@ellenangelico on Twitter and Instagram

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

EA: I have no other marketable skills!

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo?

EA: My technique is pretty simple: if I can’t finish a song in thirty minutes then it’s not worth the effort haha. This is why I’m not a professional songwriter.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

EA: I enjoy touring. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up a life at home, but I’ve got a good rhythm going. The touring-related challenges that are hardest for me to overcome don’t involve the logistics of being on the road as much as getting the gig in the first place.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?

EA: I play on my friends’ records when they ask. I prefer road work at this point in my life.

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

EA: Dealing with schedule stuff is probably the most annoying part of my job. My color-coded Google Calendar would be hard to live without.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

EA: Like I mentioned before, the hardest thing about touring for me is getting the gig in the first place. Sexism is keeping people from hiring non-men. There’s tons of women doing this work. They just choose to do it outside of country music because they don’t see people who look like them in country music. Representation matters. It’s up to people making hiring decisions to find qualified female candidates. There’s no reason someone killing it in Americana or pop wouldn’t also do great in country.

I’ll add one other observation: I’m a pretty masculine person and find I benefit from some aspects of male privilege. If I am on the road with a more feminine colleague, I get asked to check the ground lift on the DI while my colleague gets asked if she plugged in the guitar. People assume I know what I’m doing because I more closely fit the “look” of country band members which is largely white, able-bodied, and male.

The community of female instrumentalists in Nashville is awesome. We’re friends and we lift each other up. We call each other for gigs and start projects to raise our profiles. One project I’m involved in is a show called She’s a Rebel, produced and performed entirely by women and non-binary people. Now in its sixth year, the mission of the show is to support an integrated, cooperative community of women whose talents make Nashville what it is. We honor the past, engage with the present, and have a ridiculous amount of fun. We have dancers! How many other shows in Nashville have dancers?

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?

EA: A lot of the things I would want to change about the music industry – like a culture of inclusion and diversity, clear anti-harrassment and anti-abuse policies, and equal representation in airplay – could be solved by installing women in positions of power!

If I couldn’t make that happen, then I would make tour buses electric.

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