During the early years of the current decade the name Elizabeth Cornish featured regularly on the flyers of Leicester events. With appearances at Summer Sundae, White Noise and Handmade, a sell-out debut album release show and plentiful support slots, Elizabeth and her band built up a strong following. Then with the second album being considered, an opportunity arose for her and her husband, band member Jason, to move to Germany and off they went. The story doesn’t stop there though, as April will see Elizabeth release her second album followed by a tour in June which includes a special Leicester album launch party.
We’re keen to know about the new album so tell us about that.
‘I wanted to do a solo album to push myself and also to record something minimal which stayed true to my live sound as much as possible. It’s so easy to go into a studio and get over-excited with all the possibilities. It’s often harder to take the less is more approach, but that was the aim here.’
‘I started out by doing research into mic positioning and recording technique. Once I got a sound I was happy with, I pretty much stuck to that method throughout for consistency. It wasn’t ever my goal to be an expert, just to make something myself that I am proud of.’
‘I rent a resident room where I recorded most of the guitar and all of the vocals. The rest of the instruments were recorded at home in my loft. I decided to record the guitar for ‘Home’ entirely at home because I wanted to capture that feeling of comfort and warmth. There’s definitely a difference in the sound, it’s that little more DIY and I love that I’ve caught the birds tweeting in the background on the end of the track. This was completely by accident, but a nice addition.’
‘Although I didn’t have the band around me, I wasn’t entirely alone. Jason would join me in the studio to help track the guitar. This was helpful because I would be concentrating so hard on playing I wouldn’t always notice if something went wrong or didn’t sound quite right. I think that this is the hardest part about recording on your own, you very quickly lose your subjectivity.’
‘I think my approach to music and my song writing is very intuitive, but recording is the absolute antithesis of that. You have to be structured, organised and repeat everything meticulously.’
And you need pizza and beer?
‘I’m a disaster when I’m hungry and after 10 years of knowing me my husband is well aware of this. Therefore, he would make a point of showing up during a session with a pizza and a pack of beer. This helped the recording process immensely.’
Towards the end of the recording process disaster struck when Elizabeth broke her hand, bringing guitar playing to a crashing halt.
‘Breaking my hand was obviously unexpected and very irritating. My attitude was to just get on with things and adapt to the new situation. It did make a difference to what was included on the album though. I had 8 good tracks recorded when it happened and had planned to record two more. I decided that it was fate so I scrapped them, made the decision to include ‘Don’t let go’ and Jason suggested I include a piano version of We’re Not Perfect.’
And is the hand healing well?
‘I’m still doing physio and my strength is gradually coming back. I think it’s going to take a long time for my hand to get back to normal again though. Having said that, playing guitar is the best physio I could do.’
Now you’re settled in Germany, how is the local gigging working for you?
‘I entered the Legere Unplugged competition last year which was my first gig in Freiburg and I knew I would have to speak some German which I’d only been learning for a month! I never thought I would win because I had only brought four people along with me. I felt like I made a million mistakes but the crowd liked it and I was voted the winner! This took me to the Final in front of about 400 people where I played a really strong set, enjoying every moment of it. At the end, we were all invited onto stage and the winner was announced in German but I didn’t understand a word. I was just smiling and nodding and then someone explained to me that I had won. Quite funny really!’
‘This competition was a real confidence boost because the audience voted for me without ever seeing or hearing me before. That’s a really amazing thing to happen. The prize money has also made it possible for me to record the album and get it all pressed.’
‘I wish this kind of competition was more common because there were no strings attached, you didn’t have to pay to play or get so many people through the door in order to be in a chance to win, and it was judged by the people. I’ve been involved in many events where it’s felt like the emphasis has been more about making money than helping to promote upcoming talent which is a shame because it can really make a difference to someone’s music career.’
Elizabeth has played gigs in many places over the years but this will be her first tour.
‘I’m really looking forward to being on the road playing my new songs to different crowds and performing solo. I loved performing in a band but solo allows the opportunity to play some slightly different venues and singer-songwriter nights. It’s a much smaller, intimate sound. I really want to play some House Concerts as part of my tour because I think playing in someone’s living room is about as intimate as a gig can get.’
And the album launch in Leicester?
‘I feel so privileged to be able to do a Leicester Launch, play where I started out and to the people who have supported me over the last 10 years. There may also be some guest appearances from old band members, which I won’t be doing anywhere else so it will be a really special night. I miss the diversity and liveliness of Leicester. It’s a place where on the most part people from all different cultures live in harmony. I think this helps make the city a vibrant and exciting place to live. I miss the hustle and bustle of the city centre, the smells and sounds. It’s a real city with a rush. I also miss the food and I will be making a point of enjoying a curry when I’m over on tour!’
‘Finally, I’m really looking forward to catching up with old friends after the shows and hopefully making some new friends along the way too.’
The album ‘Where were we then’ is out now.