Ellen Once Again is a singer/songwriter and musician from Texas (US). Though she has been involved with music since the age of 12, only recently she decided to invest in her musical career. Andre (her husband and gadget addicted) introduced Ellen to the iPad.
While she has been recording her first EP, Ellen has released videos using the tablet and some music apps. Her video singing covers of “Hey Soul Sister” / “New Soul” had more than 20.000 views on YouTube very quickly.
In this interview Ellen talks about her experience using the iPad for musical purposes, her favorite music apps and the process of making her videos.
MA: To start with, I would like to know a little bit about your musical background before iOS, if you don’t mind. When did you start to make music and sing?
Ellen: I started around 12 years old. I grew up around a lot of music. My family sang a lot, and there were always guitars and pianos in the house.
MA: Which instruments do you play?
Ellen: I play the piano and a little guitar.
MA: You teach music for kids, right?
Ellen: Yes, Kindergarten through Fourth Grade Music.
MA: Had you been involved with music technology before the iGadgets?
Ellen: For about 5 years, when I met Andre. He’s was always trying to get me hooked on anything tech related. I think I can say it worked.
MA: According to your website, your husband has introduced some gadgets and music apps to you. Your first video singing and using those music apps had more than 20 thousand views. Why did you decide to make this video?
Ellen: It all started from a conversation with my family & friends trying to prove that you can get good material from the iPad & iPhone. One thing led to another, and we begin to document the process. Then we came up with an idea to make a video out of it.
MA: Did you expect those numbers?
Ellen: We didn’t expect these numbers at all. Matter of fact, we almost left the video unlisted to the public because we didn’t want to face the anonymous scrutiny of our first attempt at blending music with the iPhone/iPad.
MA: Are those videos helping your career as a musician and singer? What is different now?
Ellen: I would definitely say it helped especially from a motivation standpoint. I’ve always wanted to do music but I’d been apprehensive about putting it out to the public. However, based on the comments and support from everyone, it really encouraged me to just go for it.
MA: Can you tell us a little bit about the process of making your videos? What is your first step?
Ellen: First, I choose a song and I play with different chords, and sometimes arrangements, that may compliment the song. Then we use the apps that can assist in the process of bringing the songs to life.
Glee: hey, soul sister, episode 9
MA: How do you choose a song and the apps?
Ellen: Normally, we choose a song based on what I’m feeling at the time. For example, I was listening to a lot to Yael Naim and Glee had just performed Hey, Soul Sister, so we had the idea to mash up Soul Sister & New Soul. It was the same concept with Marry You. They had just performed Marry You by Bruno Mars on Glee. Now the process is different. We try to get a mental picture of how the video is going to look before we began. Sometimes I think we over-think things. As for the apps, we just hang out on the music apps blogs and see what’s going to fit with what we’re doing.
MA: Do you do everything alone?
Ellen: Everything is done at home between Andre and me. Our living room is our recording space. I’ve seen some funny comments suggesting that this was a marketing ploy. While my dream is to write songs for TV and Film, Apple & Smallville haven’t called.. 🙂 It’s just us two, long hours, a lot of fun and sometimes a lot of coffee 🙂
MA: We saw you are using features like MIDI and audio recording on iOS. Can you tell us a little about the equipments you are using to produce your songs?
Ellen: To get the midi signal into the iOS we’ve used Line 6 Midi Mobilizer. Then, we use NanoStudio to lay out the track. However, at the time there really was not a practical way to complete a song without having to jump through a bunch of hoops. So we tracked everything into the computer using Cubase. Now, GarageBand provides the necessary tools to record great ideas & concepts into the iPad.
GarageBand for iPad
MA: Talking about the iOS music apps. We know there are many toys and a few very good apps for real musicians. Which are your favorites right now?
Ellen: My Top 3 favorites are:
Honorable Mention: NotePlex is another fairly new one that is super cool & I think you can do a lot of cool things with that one.
MA: Are you constantly looking for new music apps? How many music apps do you carry with you in your devices?
Ellen: Andre hangs out on most of the music apps & tech blogs so if he sees something that can fit we try and give it a spin. As for the music apps in total, it’s probably somewhere over 50. However, that also includes Guitar/Piano Chord apps, and radio stations.
MA: We watched your new video with your new iPad 2. What was your first impression about it for making music? Did you notice a big improvement making a comparison with the first model? What would be your advice for those who are making music with the first generation iPad? Is this upgrade highly recommended?
Ellen: The new iPad is awesome. I believe the defining moment for all tablet based devices was the introduction of the iPad2 and for music lovers, the presentation of Garageband. For musicians, this shows Apple’s commitment to the mobile music platform by transforming the perception of making music on the iPad from something that may be dismissive to something that is head-turning.
There are some great mobile music apps out there that have paved the way, but the introduction of Garageband announced to the world that mobile music is here to stay, and likely a force to be reckoned with. Life can only get better from here 🙂
in regards to upgrading, that just depends on your needs. Audio wise, the apps currently support both platforms. So first generation owners should be good for some time. However, iMovie is for the iPad2 only. So it’s safe to say, that with more power, it’s only natural for developers and programmers to want to utilize those resources. It’s good to see more major players like Steinberg and Image Line jumping into the musical madness.
MA: We know you have so much talent and a very beautiful voice and that is most important than any music app or gadget. But thinking about the future, would you keep using the iPhone/iPad as tools for your music production? I know you have a concert coming soon. Will you use the iPad on the stage?
Ellen: Thank you for the wonderful complement, you’re words are very kind. Yes, in the future I plan to incorporate iOS Devices into the live performances. We will continue to have fun and enjoy ourselves along the way. I’m currently working on gathering my ideas and getting ready to introduce some of my original songs.
MA: Thanks Ellen for talking to our readers and for sharing your ideas about your work and mobile music with us. We are looking forward to your new videos and beautiful songs.
Ellen: Thank you Marcus for your love and support and for the opportunity to share my iPad experiences.