Tone Talk with Tawny Ellis

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I’m Tawny Ellis, and I’m very excited to finally release my fifth full-length album on July 24, 2020. Love Life is a truly personal album drawing from my life stories. I’ve been working on it for about three years.

I play the lap steel guitar, and much of the album was written mostly on an instrument called an Omnichord. The instrument was a suggestion from Producer and friend Daniel Lanois.

My influences are pretty vast; I love great melodies and stories. I’m a sucker for a great vocalist. My biggest songwriting influences are Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. I love David Bowie because his music sounds so fresh still, and I find much of his music prophetic. I was captured at a young age deeply by singers Linda Ronstadt, Karen Carpenter, and Peggy Lee; they have all left a deep mark on me.

A more contemporary influence is Daniel Lanois because I play steel, and he is a master!

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?

It’s always been important for me to use a great sounding amp and a good reverb pedal. I play through vintage amps as they have the tone I like; the last six years I’ve played through a Black Volt Amplification Amp. They use vintage tubes, and the cabinets made of vintage wood. Not only is the tone insane, but they are incredibly beautiful. They also make killer pedals I like to experiment with.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?

I play a 1965 lap steel Supro. I’m pretty loyal to it. My amps and pedals are always Black Volt.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?

We mic the amp and go!

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?

Nothing much changes; we mic the amp and put it through the house.

What does your practice consist of?

Many times I sit down to practice my songs alone, and I end up writing new ideas. When you are in the creative zone, it opens the doorway for new ideas to flood in. I sometimes have to make myself stick to the task at hand. It helps to have other players there and a setlist that must be gone over for a gig or recording.

There is so much joy in getting it right!

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?

Write from your heart, ultimately you must be true to yourself because you will have fun playing your music regardless if you are just playing alone for the joy of it or if you are playing to a huge audience. I feel that music is the one language that can speak to everyone. It touches people so deeply. Be unique, yet be inspired by those you love who inspire you but never copy. Give yourself time to find your own unique voice, and don’t be afraid to be different!

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