An interview with London 2019 Finalist Meg Ella

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To those who might not be familiar with you or your work, could you tell us a little more about you and your music?

My name is Meg Ella and I am from rural West Wales. I am a classically trained cellist, a singer, pianist, a rubbish guitarist and a composer. I’ve played a flying piano at the Roundhouse for a circus show, I’ve been to Cuba, Denmark, India and around the UK writing and performing music for dance and theatre, I do session work, I teach, I help run a refugee choir (Citizen’s Of The World Choir, it’s a special project and a mad and wonderful bunch so if you have a moment go and find them online) and I also write my own songs, which I am finally finding the time to nudge out into the world. The Coffee Music Project has provided invaluable deadlines for that, so thank you.

There's a greater purpose driving The Coffee Music Project. What does Project Waterfall mean to you?

I’ve never been good at contests. In the end, the charitable campaigning that the Coffee Music Project does is why I am here, and why I am so thrilled to be in the final. I think we can all recognise the privileges that come with living in a first world country. Many of us attempt to take on some personal responsibility - we recycle, try to avoid wasting water, never litter, buy fair-trade or free range, use a keep-cup or buy a homeless person a Pret A Manger sandwich - but the reality is, making lasting impact for anyone beyond our own front door, for communities that have none of those basic privileges, is a full time, relentless pursuit. Of course I want to support an organisation like Project Waterfall, and if I can do that by using the musical skill set I have - where else would I be?

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing emerging musicians?

Being relentlessly resilient in the face of a fairly silly job. It is not a simple or stable life, but if you keep the energy up and are disciplined, and you don’t let “the fear” get you, then we have infinite options. I do love it.

As a musician, what's the best piece of advice you have been given?

“Go to sleep.”

This one solves a myriad of issues. The rest is just practice.

Name a few of your favourite acts right now..

I never know how to answer this question, so I’ll just lightning round the last ten on my Spotify’s “Recently Played”. Radiohead, Chet Baker, Jacob Collier, Officina Zoè, Jeff Buckley, Laura Mvula, Leonard Cohen, Emily King, ROSALÍA.

How did you find writing your London song for this competition?

Well, truthfully, the first try took a great deal of time and effort and yielded very little (namely, the song was pants). But, the day before the preliminary round something clicked and we had something brand new just in time.

What should we expect from your set on 1st May?

Pyrotechnics, an aerial silks artist and a fire show, pending confirmation from health and safety. Fingers crossed. Failing that it will just be me and my piano and two of my favourite people, Fraser on cello and Nic on trombone, getting up there and doing what we love.

Rebecca Hodgson