With her new EP ‘In Case of Emergency’, and bop-tastic new single ‘Bounce’, both out today (Friday 21st July), ELLIE DIXON is burning bright. Check out the latest cover story for our New Music Friday playlist edit, The Cut.
Words: Sam Taylor.
Photos: Matilda Hill-Jenkins.
Ellie Dixon makes alt-pop that’s fun with a capital F, U and N. She’s just released her new single ‘Bounce’, a track that is as offbeat as it is catchy. The song, which features a host of homemade household samples and quick-witted advice on how to escape life’s toxic and stressful situations, is a musical reminder that sometimes, the best thing to do is to remove ourselves from spaces and people who aren’t right for us and ride off into the sunset.
In a similar vein to the likes of BENEE and UPSAHL, her new EP ‘In Case of Emergency’ showcases her talent for not only elevating everyday frustrations into inescapable earworms but also spinning low moments into three-minute pockets of you-can-do-this reassurance. Written, produced, and recorded in Ellie’s bedroom, it’s a collection of four irresistibly uplifting songs that revolve around self-care, coping strategies, and the various methods she personally employs to navigate her own mental well-being. More than that, though, they’re a marker for an artist on the rise, turning online buzz into offline excitement.
We tracked her down to delve deeper.
Hello Ellie! How are you? Are you up to anything fun today?
I’m doing great, thanks! I’ve got a much-needed day off today after two months of touring and playing Glastonbury, so in true rock’n’roll fashion, I’m cleaning my garage, haha. My space always gets very messy when I’m running in and out all the time, so when I get a chance to clean everything again, it feels like a spiritual cleanse.
Congrats on your new single, ‘Bounce’. What was the inspiration behind the song? Was it an easy birth?
‘Bounce’ started on a day when I was sampling loads of random objects in my bedroom, and I twanged a ruler against a table to make that bass sound you can hear through the verses. I fell in love with the weird Zelda-desert-world sound, and the rest of the song developed very quickly. I had this image in my head of me in the middle of the desert, bouncing away from the stresses around me.
I started writing ‘Bounce’ around the same time as my first single, ‘Swing!’, so the inspiration is quite similar. I was dealing with the negative side of the internet and hit a point where I had to stop looking at comments and opening social media apps because it can become such an addictively toxic space. Something I’ve been learning is how to take myself out of negative situations. ‘Bounce’ is basically my anthem for getting the heck out of places that don’t serve me. Sometimes a little bit of space is all you need!
How does it fit into your new EP?
‘Bounce’ is the final track on my new EP, ‘In Case of Emergency’, which is a collection of songs describing my reflex responses to difficulties in my life. They feel like everything that goes through my head after a panic attack – these weird fantasy worlds that I reflexively jump into to help me stay positive and look after myself. Whether it’s a baseball game telling me to swing back, a dinosaur telling me to crush my problems, a blue cloud telling me to breathe, or a cowboy telling me to get on my horse. ‘Bounce’ fits in perfectly as the final piece of advice before my next EP – get out and move on.
Can you tell us a bit about writing and recording the EP? What’s it about?
This EP means a lot to me. It was entirely written, recorded and produced by me in my bedroom (except for the wonderful strings in ‘Dopamine’ written and recorded by Tobie Tripp and some melodic / production collaboration in ‘Swing!’ with Charlie Deakin-Davies). Because these songs are made by myself in my bedroom, they feel like such purified insights into my brain. My world has changed massively since everything blew up for me two years ago, and I feel like I’ve had ten years of experiences in two. These four songs capture a turbulent time for me mentally, and I feel like they provide such a range of laughter and pain and silliness. It’s about self-care, coping mechanisms, and different methods I’ve used to navigate my own mental health. I want this EP to be there for my listeners when they need something to get them through.
You’re pretty adventurous with finding new sounds in unexpected places – what’s been your favourite unconventional instrument so far?
I think the ruler twang baseline in ‘Bounce’ has to be my favourite so far. It isn’t really a sound I’ve heard anyone use before, and it brings me back to school when we’d fling our rulers against the table and see if anyone could actually make it sound like music.
“Something I’ve been learning is how to take myself out of negative situations”Ellie Dixon
What is it that attracted you to that style of recording, it sounds really fun?
I started making music when I was 14 with a mic and a laptop in my bedroom, so recording has always been very informal for me. I’m self-taught on all the instruments I play except piano, so I’ve always just messed with things to see what would happen. I was also very inspired by early YouTube musicians like Walk Off the Earth, Dodie and Paint, who all leaned into this homemade sound that just made my brain tingle. I would have such a blast trying out all the different objects we had lying around the house and challenging myself to recreate songs without proper instruments.
What do you most like writing songs about? Are there any themes you find yourself repeatedly drawn to?
Mental health is really my biggest inspiration. I don’t always set out to write about a specific topic, but it always comes back to my headspace, how I’m feeling, and what I’m going to do about it. I love writing songs as advice for myself in the hopes that other people will find them useful too. I have spent a lot of time learning how to live with my anxiety and ADHD, and I want to pass on as much of that as possible. Music is such an incredible and shareable thing, and the idea that I can reach people and make them feel good about themselves feels like the closest thing to magic.
You recently upgraded your headline show at London’s Lafayette show to the O2 Academy Islington – is that going to be your biggest headline show to date? How are you feeling about it?
It’s definitely my biggest headline show yet – I’m so excited! We are going to make it my most fun and interesting live show so far, and we’ve already started planning it. It still blows my mind that people I’ve never met listen to my music and actually want to buy tickets to see me perform them. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to process that, but it feels incredibly special.
“I was sampling loads of random objects in my bedroom”Ellie Dixon
What would you say has been the biggest factor in your success so far? What keeps your fans coming back for more?
I think my fans connect with my love and curiosity for sound and wordplay. There isn’t any thought to what a song ‘should’ sound like, and more just what I would like to hear. I really lean into what my weird-ass brain wants to listen to, and so I end up making quite brain-tingly sounds that seem to resonate with people who want that same stimulation and playfulness.
If there was one thing you could achieve that would allow you to say you’ve made it as a musician, what would it be?
I think collaborating with any of my favourite artists would be the biggest moment for me. Being able to make music with artists like Remi Wolf, Anderson.Paak, Still Woozy, Doja Cat, Caroline Polacheck (the list goes on) would be incredible. Because I do a lot of my writing and production by myself, I don’t get a whole lot of external musical validation in person, so working in sessions with artists I really admire would be such a dream.
What else are you working on at the moment? Do you have big plans for the rest of the year?
I’m working on a lot more new music! I’m currently writing and recording another EP, which is my second puzzle piece of new music. I’m really excited for these new tracks because they are even more vulnerable. Then I have my headline tour around the UK and EU in the autumn, which I’m super excited about. Brand new live shows, new music, even more fun.
Finally – what’s the most satisfying thing to bounce?
Fantastic question – I’ve got to say a good old-fashioned tennis ball. Either that or a yo-yo. Both top tier contenders… maybe I should start a search for the best bounce in the world. ■
Ellie Dixon’s EP ‘In Case of Emergency’ is out now. Follow Dork’s The Cut Spotify playlist here.