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Ellie Vee - conducted by Alex Goldberg  

Ellie Vee (The Charms) Interview

July 2006

MVRemix: You have just worked with Jim Diamond…

Ellie Vee: Yeah, we just finished tracking the record and he’s mixing it.

MVRemix: How did you end up working with him?

Ellie Vee: Our manager really wanted us to work with him. So, he’s been talking about it for awhile but it wasn’t the right time and we weren’t sure if Jim wanted to produce us before. For this record, our manager was still keeping him in mind, and Kim Fowley, was like, ‘you have to record with him, Jim Diamond is a god in the studio.’ And we talked to our manager, and he called Jim up, and Jim told him to send him our stuff and he listened to our old cds, and when we toured through Detroit, and he decided to produce us. So, we went to Detroit for two weeks and recorded with him, and finished the recording in two weeks.

MVRemix: What’s it like working with him? Is he a god in the studio?

Ellie Vee: Uh, yeah, definitely [laughs]. He really blew our minds. He’s so creative. We gave him the demos of our songs, and we’re like, this song, this is the structure-this is the skeleton arrangement, and he would have a lot of ideas and we would have a lot of ideas. He was very collaborative. The thing is, he has his own sound, I think that’s what he’s known for too, along with being a really good producer he’s also a great engineer. And there’s a sound that he gets that really matches our style. Probably because he’s been in that studio for a while so he knows the equipment. No digital equipment, all analog.

MVRemix: In a quote describing your voice, your vocal range is described as moving from “rough and tough, to sensual and sexy” [She laughs]. Do you see these as polar opposites or do you see a connection between being sexy and being tough?

Ellie Vee: I think anytime there’s a girl in a band, unless she’s trying desperately to tone down the fact that she’s a chick, people always use the sexy and the blah blah—it’s one of the pitfalls of being a chick who plays music. It really has nothing to do with playing music, but I guess it people want to emphasize that, then they can find that in my voice. Well, I’m definitely not inhibited about sex in the songs. I have a pretty versatile style. I write a lot of different kinds of material. So, you kind of have to be versatile. There are a lot of emotions in the songs, so you want to be able to portray them.

MVRemix: On the title track of Pussycat, you say, “I’m deranged…I’m crazy…I’m a pussycat.” What does pussycat really mean?

Ellie Vee: Oh, well, you know how cats have really independent spirit? That song is a character sketch. Everyone always asks me about that [she laughs], I’m going to have to go back in my head and think about the lyrics. That song is basically about the girls point of view. People think about guys as not wanting to be tied down, you know, commitment phobic. So it’s a sketch of a girl in the same position, being a commitment phobic free spirit.

MVRemix: When you create a song, do you write lyrics and then music to go with the lyrics or do you write music and then the lyrics come later?

Ellie Vee: I usually don’t write lyrics first, but they’re pretty important.

MVRemix: When you start playing, do you usually have an idea of where you’re going with it?

Ellie Vee: Yea, usually. I was reading the autobiography of Brian Wilson and he was saying that he would make the music, and get a mood, and from that mood he would write the lyrics. I guess that’s pretty similar to how I write. I usually have some of the lyrics when I’m writing, but most of the lyrics usually come with the music. Other times, I write the music knowing what the song is going to be about, and I just have the chorus idea and I build the rest of the lyrics around that.

MVRemix: What do you think are the devils and demons of rock and roll music?

Ellie Vee: [Seemingly confused] The devils and demons?

MVRemix: Yeah, are the devils and demons found in the industry, the guitars, the drums, Elvis Presley, The Charms?

Ellie Vee: Do you mean what is wrong about the industry?

MVRemix: Not wrong, but naughty. What’s bad about living rock and roll?

Ellie Vee: Well I think rock and roll musicians don’t exactly live a normal lifestyle. I think people live vicariously through you, because they can’t be loud, and they can’t be free spirited and outspoken and say whatever the hell they want [laughs]. And stay up late, and drink, and sleep late, and just be creative all day. It’s not really appropriate for most people to live like that [laughs]. So I think when you can get to a point in your life when you live like that, it’s kind of exciting for other people. So when you are on stage, people are kind of living vicariously through you, because you’re doing something that people want to do, but that they find hard to do when they have to work everyday or go to school everyday.

MVRemix: Alright, continuing with this devil talk, let’s talk Highway 61. Let’s say you found yourself at the crosswords, and you were going to sell your soul to the devil, what would you ask him in return?

Ellie Vee: And I have to sell my soul to the devil?

MVRemix: Yes, you found yourself in a situation where you have to sell your soul.

Ellie Vee: Ok, have to. Well, in that case I would ask for the ability to write the best record that’s ever been written.

MVRemix: Wow.

Ellie Vee: If I had to sell my soul [laughs].

>> continued...

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"I think rock and roll musicians don’t exactly live a normal lifestyle. I think people live vicariously through you, because they can’t be loud, and they can’t be free spirited and outspoken and say whatever the hell they want..."