“It’s Kind Of This Chaotic Arc!” Eloise Opens Up

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It’s been an exciting week for singer-songwriter Eloise. Since the release of her debut album ‘Drunk On A Flight’ last week, the past few days have been packed with celebrations by the time we call over Zoom. ‘Drunk On A Flight’ marks an exciting shift in Eloise’s career. Embracing her love of pop and focusing on the deeply personal, it’s an album infused with energy and emotional maturity. 

After missing a flight back home to London whilst in LA, Eloise took it as a sign and properly began constructing an album that had sort of been in the works since another flight five years ago. ‘Drunk On A Flight’s titular track was written after Eloise’s break up with her first boyfriend. That flight also marked the start of her first tour, making this album feel particularly significant in the context of her career. Memories of relationships and breakups amalgamated into a completed record, all fittingly revolving around the metaphor of flight. The creative process behind the album was invigorated with a sense of youthful collaboration. Working on the project with Conor Albert, Eloise described how ‘Drunk On A Flight’ felt like an exhilarating fresh start in her career. 

Clash caught up with Eloise to discuss the album’s intentions, the prospect of touring and celebrating classic pop. 

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How does it feel to have ‘Drunk On A Flight’ out in the world?

It’s quite surreal when people are referencing songs that I’m used to keeping a secret. But also it’s a massive relief because I can’t really start working on anything new until I let that one go… I’ve been in this world for a year. I can now go and step into the next phase, which is nice.

The album’s origin story is definitely a unique one. Did you initially know that missing that flight would spur on your creative process so much? 

That was like the cherry on top because that wasn’t the first thing that had happened with flights. I think that was kind of the final one where I was like “Ok I can take a hint”… Five years before that I had gotten on a flight the day that me and my first boyfriend broke up, and it was the day that I was flying away for the first ever tour so it was a really transitional moment. I wrote ‘Drunk On A Flight’ about that plane ride… Then for the rest of the five years it kept happening. Breakups, or meeting someone new, the day before or the day of flying. So when I missed my flight the last time I was a bit like “I wonder what’s gonna happen now”. I knew something was going to happen. I just didn’t know that it would actually be nothing to do with my romantic life – it would be writing an album. 

How did you approach writing an album that’s so personal? What would you like people to consider when they listen?

In terms of approach, I don’t know I think it’s initially a selfish process because I’m trying to get something off my chest. I never write anything with the intention of having a single, or having an album, or having a song out or anything. I need to clearly vent… I think there’s so much more pressure nowadays on having your act together when you’re a really young adult and also that feeling of “Well I’m in my twenties. I’m like a grown-up, I must behave like a grown-up. I must not get into conflict or must not fool around, must find boyfriend, husband blah blah blah.” You’re just at the start. That’s just the fun bit, go and have fun. 

There’s a real shift in emotions across the album. How did you decide on the album’s structure with this in mind?

I tend to struggle with track lists because I’m not a concept writer really. I was very set on the fact that it was going to start on ‘Drunk On A Flight’, just to keep a modicum of chronology and also I just like the idea of the whole album starting with the sound of the airport. I also knew that I wanted the whole thing to end on ‘Tired Now’ because then it doesn’t matter what order you put these songs in – it’s kind of this chaotic arc. 

The opening line of the album is “We broke up”, the last line of the album is “And I’m tired now”. I loved that because it just took the pressure off what it needed to be in the middle. So sometimes a couple of songs are together because they sound nice together. And you have to consider that. But then there’s other times, like where ‘Make It Better’ and ‘Forgive You’ are next to each other because they’re kind of part one and part two of an elongated argument. 

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Your music has traditionally blended jazz and pop, but aspects of this album felt much more pop inspired. How and why do you think it’s changed from your previous work?

I just think I was listening to loads of pop. And there was definitely a point where I decided to not be so scared of trying what was naturally coming out of me. I think I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to keep being better at what I do in the field that I’m already in. Actually, I think I got to a point where I felt a bit like I’ve conquered that field. Like I’ve written the best songs I can write in that style and if I want to go back to it I do, fine. But I loved the challenge of not coming from pop and studying pop, you know song structure and stuff like that was so interesting. I was just flexing a new muscle really. I want to really make sure that as I start my career I’m setting the tone that I am going to be morphing into different things as my career goes on, like let’s not all get dead set on me being one thing because I’m figuring it out live time. 

Some of the songs on this album feel like classic breakup hits. How do you approach writing a song like that? You touched on your influences briefly – were there any albums or artists that helped you get in the mood to write those songs?

If I was listening to the radio a year ago and it was Radio 1, I think there was loads of Jonas Brothers. There was ‘Leave Before You Love Me’ and a few of those songs. And there was ‘House On Fire’, Mimi Webb, and there were all these songs with very, very great melodies… I want to write really strong melodies. I was also obsessed with Sigrid. She put out a song called ‘A Driver Saved My Night’ and I remember being like, “That’s how I need it to sound”. I’ve never ever started with how a song needs to sound before. The whole process for me was so different for this record.

When you start a song do you normally have one line that kicks it off, or are there other things that inspire your songwriting?

I tend to start with a line. I’ll be watching a film and someone will say something brilliant. But I have this note page and my rule is I have to start a new one every year because it got to the point where I think I was on my fourth year of the same note page and it actually ruined the whole thing of being able to really quickly write it down because I’d just be scrolling to get to the bottom of it. But yeah, I write down lines, I write down a verse if I can come up with a verse, or if I’ve heard two words that rhyme together and I like how unusual they are… Sometimes it’s a chord, but generally I listen to lyrics so much, you know. So I make what I’m drawn to. 

Are there any lines from across this album that you particularly love?

It was way clearer in the older projects what were my favourite lyrics. I don’t know if I have favourite lyrics, like a verse or whatever, but I really love in ‘Giant Feelings’ “And I think it’s gonna rain all year”. I don’t know why and actually I remember having that line and thinking I don’t really know how I’m going to make this make sense, but something about it feels really weighted. Just basically giving up on the year. And there’s something nice about that, it’s like “You even made the clouds shed a tear / And I think it’s gonna rain all year”. I just like that, it’s simple but it’s very effective. When I played that on tour before it had come out, whenever I would sing that line in the shows you’d see people go “Whoa” and I was like “Yes!”

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This album also feels so much fuller in sound in comparison to your earlier music. Was this part of a broader experimentation process?

I didn’t know how experimental we’d get or how full in sound. But it was the first time not working with Bruno Major ever. And I worked with Conor and I think there’s something very exciting about two people who are the same age, who are starting off in their career and they’ve got something to prove. But they also want to try something new and I think that’s kind of why there are some sounds that sound very strange. Like the drums in ‘Giant Feelings’ are very strange-sounding, and roomy and weird. It sounds like two young people who got into a shed studio and made a record. I don’t really know why it sounds so full though. I’ve used strings before, I’ve used all the same instruments but I think the songs are a bit fuller. The gaps are more obvious in pop than they are in jazz. In jazz you tend to try and leave space. But we kept some things the same. Like my vocal is always really loud, that’s always been a big rule.

You’ve got your Europe tour coming up in June. How are you feeling about it? What tracks are you looking forward to performing live?

I am so looking forward to it. I love touring in Europe… I can really enjoy it, there’s no jet lag to get over or anything like that. But I’m very tense about singing the new songs because I wrote them in such quick succession that I basically had never sung any of these songs before. I would write a song and then we’d go into the studio and sing it there like four times until we had the vocal down and then we were done. Then I realised the other day when I was practicing, “I’ve heard this song more than I’ve sung this song”. It’s still so fresh. I’m like how the hell am I going to sing ‘I Take It Back’ live… But it will be so much fun because that’s actually the song I’m equally excited about playing. 

Back in 2019 you released ‘This Thing Called Living’. How do you think 2019 Eloise would feel about this new album and how your music has progressed?

I really, really think my 2019 self would be so chuffed that I’ve managed to let go enough to be able to give into the pop. I loved pop then but it was all so unknown and I didn’t really understand pop. I knew my little jazzy numbers. I think it’s just an album that I would have listened to then and loved, and I listen to now and love. 

What’s the future looking like for you at the moment?

I am so excited to start on my next one. I kind of have started in my brain, like I know what the next album is going to be called, I know the soundscape, I’ve written a couple of songs for it. I’m just really excited. The great thing is I have so much to look forward to. I have two tours, and then when I get back, after a little break, I can just completely immerse in the world of my second album. It’s so cool that I’ve put out so much music before this, but this is my first album. It’s like I get to still be starting off really. 

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‘Drunk On A Flight’ is out now.

Words: Charlotte Grimwade
Photo Credit: Charlotte Patmore