Half Moon Bay harpist and songwriter EllaHarp is set to release her debut album Who Asked You Back, an album that she describes as a fresh take on the harp with a compilation of bluesy, riff-based kickers and a hint of creepy, stolen baby mythology.
She’ll be hosting a couple of record release parties in February to coincide with the release (see dates below). Leading up to the events, she took some time out of her schedule to talk to Music in SF™ about the new release, when her interest in music first began and what her favorite place to eat is in San Francisco.
How’d you come up with the band name?
Well, my name is Ella and I play the harp, so pretty unoriginal I guess!
How would you describe your sound?
My songwriting is influenced by blues, folk, and pop. I spent 4 years in (very rainy) Scotland studying traditional Scottish music and the Scottish Gaelic language, which has formed the base for a lot of my songs. In the end, it sort of melds hints of traditional music with bluesy riffs and melodies in a style that’s not usually associated with having anything to do with the harp.
When did you first become interested in playing music?
I started piano lessons when I was 7, but switched to harp when I was 8.
What’s the funniest that’s ever happened to you at a show?
I showed up to play at Simple Pleasure‘s Cafe on Balboa recently with no extra strings to find 3 of them broken 20 minutes before I was on. A small dose of panic and a quick google search led to hyper-speed bolting down the street 3 blocks to the tiny violin store that closed in 10 minutes for a set of nylon guitar strings I didn’t really expect to work. They were the exact gauge for each broken string and I never replaced them, they’re still on that harp.
Where do you like to hang out most in the city?
I sew all my clothing, so I like to go to Union Square and drool over Britex Fabrics’ frighteningly overpriced textiles. Sometimes I buy a singular button.
What’s your favorite place to eat in the Bay Area?
Chez Maman on 18th, or Basil Thai on Folsom.
What do you say to people who think that the music scene in the Bay Area is dead?
That they aren’t paying enough attention! There’s great music going on all the time, and I feel like San Fran has a great community of musicians that also help each other out, and that’s all I, at least could ask for in a music scene.
If you could put your own version of a supergroup, who would be in it and why?
Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn because, holy cello and banjo. KT Tunstall because she rocks, and Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites because I love their songwriting.
What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
Not directly about me, but my grandfather, Gordon Jenkins wrote the song ‘Crescent City Blues’ which Johnny Cash shamelessly ripped off for his hit song ‘Folsom Prison Blues’.
Is there anything you’d like to plug?
I’m releasing my debut album, Who Asked You Back on Feb. 3, 2018. I’ll be having a release party and concert at Sand Studios Shop, 449 Bryant st Feb. 10 from 6-10 p.m. Music is from 7-9 p.m. with performances by Cassie Levy and Ali Oswalt in addition to myself. Tickets are by donation at door.