By Anita Stewart, Journalist and Chyrisse Tabone, Photographer—Rock At Night Tampa Correspondents
Rock at Night met up with Ella Jet and the Ries Brothers outside of the VIP area at the Gasparilla Music Festival; they were just having fun and enjoying the afternoon as both musical acts were not scheduled to perform their sets until the next day.
We then sat down in the shade under one of the VIP tents, whimsically decorated with vinyl records and brightly trimmed with orange everything, the color branding of this year’s events. The first thing we at Rock at Night noticed was how beautifully photogenic Ella Jet was with flawless skin and a bright smile, the shutter on the camera was literally begging us to snap photos of her.
We didn’t have a long time to talk, the music was starting on the stage, but it was easy to see that Ella Jet is a very self possessed young woman, poised, soft spoken, talks a bit and like a pro, doesn’t reveal all, maintaining a slight air of mystery. She did admit that she suffers from anxiety while performing–but the audience would never know that while listening to her when she is on stage.
Last year she was selected into the prestigious Grammy Museum’s Music Revolution Project. Intriguing to be sure. The question I should have asked her and I didn’t was: at her young age, where does she get all the mature insight that reflects through the lyrics of her songs? Her debut CD Black Wave Diary is scheduled to be released at the end of 2016. The CD is the project she is working on right now. Brett Bowcott is her partner onstage and he is the backup vocalist and plays guitar, piano and strings.
Please check out the interview below:
RAN: I am excited to be talking to you today, how did you get here and what happened to get you here to this festival?
Ella Jet: Well I am really excited to be here. I have worked with a lot of promoters around here who are affiliated with Gasparilla Music Festival. So I kinda’ just been doing other events with Gasparilla, not the music festival, but they do a Trolley Cart here so stuff like that around the area. So I just kinda’ played a few other events for Gasparilla Music and they said I would be a no brainer for the festival. And everything ended up working out…so it’s really great!
RAN: So where are you from originally?
Ella Jet: I’m from St. Petersburg, Florida.
RAN: There is a lot of music coming out of St. Petersburg. What are some of the other bands that you know and you like to follow that are in St. Pete?
Ella Jet: I am a really big fan of the Wholetones, they are like a crazy folk-metal band. It is really weird. There is also an artist, Ari Chi. She’s kinda’ like a hip hop/folk (maybe not hip hop…I really don’t know how to explain it). She is really amazing—really, really good. I try to go out to shows as much as I can and support people around the area. St. Pete has got a really, really great music scene.
RAN: What would you consider your format? Is it folk, is it rock, or a bit of both?
Ella Jet: OK, It’s like folk-rock, like yeah, folk-rock!
RAN: And how did you start writing music? What was the catalyst that got you to actually put it all together, lyrics and music?
Ella Jet: I’ve been around music my whole life. My dad and my uncle were in a rock and roll band. So I started playing guitar when I was about 9. I started writing songs about 10. It just came really natural to me and they always encouraged me of course to do it as well and helped me and booked shows and stuff like that. So I am really blessed to have those people around me encouraging me to do what I really love.
RAN: Do you find that being young in the music scene, that people might take advantage of you or do you have some people behind you that are helping you manage what you are doing, the money, the merch, etc.?
Ella Jet: That’s a really good question. I really feel like people will take advantage of you for your age or not really treat you as well as they should or not give you the right amount of money because they think you don’t know. My uncle is actually my manager and he has been in the music scene for like 20 years, so I am really, really lucky to have somebody like him as my manager helping me and teaching me so much about the business [being] so young. I am so blessed to have him.
RAN: What were some of the early musicians that you listened to that inspired you?
Ella Jet: My goodness! My parents were always playing music around the house; they played a lot of the Flaming Lips, a lot of reggae, like Bob Marley–and he played Gasparilla last year, Michael Franti.
RAN: I love Michael Franti! I am like the biggest fan!
Ella Jet: So are my parents! And we listen to a lot of Michael Franti. But I liked a lot of country when I was younger like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, I really love Liz Phair since I was really young.
RAN: Did you listen to any of the old school country females like Roseanne Cash or Emmylou Harris?
Ella Jet: No, but I listen to Johnny Cash, like more old school men, I guess.
RAN: k.d. lang is another one, I have always considered her voice to be so perfect, her voice is almost silvery, that is the only way I can describe it. But these are some of older country females that really aren’t on the scene anymore. Even though k.d. lang has actually formed a band with Laura Veirs and Neko Case, it is going to be a female supergroup! Do you have any intention of ever joining up with anybody else like that or staying solo?
Ella Jet: Right now I am having a lot of problems getting my sound across (because I am recording an album right now). But as of now I am only a duo, but the album is a full band, so I am definitely am looking for players as of now and hopefully will be working on that and getting a group together really soon, pretty much as soon as possible.
RAN: How can people find you?
Ella Jet: On my Facebook page Ella Jet Music.
RAN: Thank you so much! It was a pleasure meeting you and good luck at the festival!
Ella Jet: Thank you so much! Nice to meet you!
So there you have it! Get ready to hear lots more from this very gifted chanteuse! Rock at Night will be following her and we will let our readers know when her premier album has dropped. You will find Ella Jet playing at local gigs all across the Tampa Bay area so be sure to check out her Facebook page for all of the event details.
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Grew up in a rock and roll radio station that her father owned and has a musical family. Spent a few years singing back up. Now sings in the shower! Plays ukulele and hand drums. Loves Alternative to Zydeco. Promotes bands and independent artists through ANITA STEWART PROMOTIONS.Female musicians through YES SHE ROCKS. Writes, fights for a green environment, pure water, clean food. Preparing for retirement. Knits, paints and explores in nature with her camera!