Katherine Ellis, a well-respected English singer and songwriter from London, joined us at Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design to perform at one of our Music Masterclasses in Area 51.
Many may know Katherine from her hits When You Touch me, Dreaming by the Ruff Driverz and Tears with Free Masons as well as her latest BAFTA winning original soundtrack to 2013 film Gravity featuring Sandra Bullock.
She has been a vocalist since the age of 15, performing lead and backing vocals, and toured across the globe with Belinda Carlisle, Chaka Khan, Boy George and Roger Sanchez.
When talking about her performance at Westminster Katherine said: “I really enjoyed it, it was wonderful, the students were very receptive and I feel like they got a lot of out of it. I got some lovely comments afterwards from people saying they were inspired.”
About her own musical inspirations, Katherine joked: “My mortgage is my inspiration. (She laughs) There is some truth to it. In the early days my song writing was about what I felt and me but since moving into dance music, it’s not all about me. I think about what do I want to hear when I am in a night club?”
“It’s writing for the genre. My writing technique for dance is I put the track on and I just sing every idea that comes to my head .I don’t try to analyse it, I just respond to the music. Afterwards I work on those ideas and turn them into a song.”
There have been many highlights throughout Katherine’s career, but the special ones she recalled were her performance at the Hollywood in Vienna and meeting James Brown.
“There have been some stand out ones. The performance last month in Vienna, singing Gravity with an orchestra and choir was amazing. The music was composed by Steven Price, and I would never have written that for myself. But it challenged me and I rose to the challenge and I felt so triumphant after.”
“Another highlight was when I worked for Belinda Carlisle. We turned up to a private party in London to find that we were supporting James Brown. There have been some amazing times.”
Her advice to our current music students was to be thick skinned. She warned: “Not everyone is going to like everything you do. Making money in the music industry is a constant struggle. I would say learn an instrument so you can always get a gig at the pub. And try to develop different styles. Be open minded.”
Katherine’s dream duet would be with Aretha Franklin.
“I would be terrified but I would love to sing with Aretha Franklin because I’ve been such a fan of hers for forty years. Even if it was in her kitchen over a cup of coffee, there is just something wonderful about singing with other people.
I think it’s great to sing with people who are different to you and even people who are better than you so you always push yourself.”