Ellington by Anna Lee.
“I have had a deep love for music for as long as I can remember,” says Ellington Ratliff. Often recognised as the drummer of the now defunct American pop rock band R5 and a contributor to The Driver Era, the 28-year-old artist’s music skills and craftsmanship reflect all of the hard work he’s put into following his dream.
With a debut self-titled EP out already, Ratliff has reintroduced himself as simply Ellington. And, make no mistake about it, the artistic integrity behind that name is far from simple.
“After going on tour with The Driver Era, I decided it was best for me to start fresh and do my own thing,” Ratliff recalls.
As opposed to his previous music projects and working in a collective environment, Ellington has now taken full control of his creative vision and does everything on his own. “In those past projects, we were in a lot of rooms with professionals, … where I was lucky enough to see how it was supposed to be done,” he explains. “I can take those ideas and apply them my own way.”
It seems as if that’s exactly what Ellington has done—ELLINGTON the EP, released on April 26th, is a cohesive and extremely thorough music debut.
“I was very precious with each sound, each lyric, each song in general because I wanted to make sure I set a good standard going forward,” he says. “It’s so easy for me to quickly dislike something if it’s not perfect to me, while I also have to be flexible. I wanted something I would be proud enough to show to anyone.”
Releasing your first-ever body of work is certainly no easy task. Artists ought to think of it as their first introduction to the world, which often shapes their potential audience and defines what kind of narrative their art explores.
Ellington has certainly had his fair share of struggles: from writing songs completely on his own to learning how to produce them in the first place. “At some point, you have to just do it and make things happen and hopefully things that were difficult on this release will be like muscle memory on the next one,” he then opens up.
“‘EMT’ was the first song I felt was really my sound and ‘Sun To Rise!’ was the first song I had completed for this project so those two hold a special place in my heart for sure.”
According to the singer-songwriter himself, his EP is about “trials and tribulations of doing your own thing” finding the right direction in life, even though following it may not be easy. “Everyone goes through that at some point in their life and hopefully someone out there finds comfort in these songs,” he adds.
The 5-track record not only celebrates Ratliff’s journey but also inspires the listener to search for the thing they’re most passionate about and hold onto it once they’ve found it.
“Just because it’s not always sunshine and daisies doesn’t mean you can’t laugh through it,” he finally says. “Or even dance.”