Because you only get one chance to make a first impression, for an artist, a debut release has the potential to kickstart a career, just as it can set you behind the 8-ball. So Ella Langley did what may seem impossible to do; she waited.
The Alabama native did some soul searching, found out who she wanted to be as an artist and what she wanted to say, with the end result being “One of the Guys;” a modern day anthem for strong women.
As release day for her new single drew closer, Langley found herself with a myriad of emotions about how the song would fare when released into the world, especially given the current global situation.
“I waited a long time to put out a single, and one that I am 100% proud of, because it’s really me,” says Langley. “It’s nerve-wracking to release your first single because it’s a shot in the dark on how it will do. It was a mix of emotions: excitement to have it out there to share with everyone and some nerves since I can’t tour or promote the single in any of the traditional ways.”
Before it was released, Langley took “One of the Guys” on the road, and was encouraged by the responses she was receiving right off the bat, especially from women.
“Playing a new song live is always a great way to see if a crowd connects with it. It helps me see what works and what needs to be tweaked. I also played this song at a lot of writer’s rounds here in Nashville and got lots of helpful feedback,” says Langley. “This one felt good from the start because I could see the crowd respond to it right away. It especially seemed to connect with women in the crowd, because it feels like a badass girl-power anthem. In fact, the first time the band and I played it live, we met Ronnie Palmer, who ended up producing this single. We worked hard to get the same energy and emotion he felt hearing it live.”
From the opening cymbals and guitar lick, “One of the Guys” explodes through the speakers with its twangy steel and Langley’s powerful vocal. With one foot southern rock’s door and another in country’s door, Langley says her diverse influences have helped shape her own unique sound that you hear on her debut single.
“I grew with a lot of different influences. My grandparents loved classic country and gospel music, and I grew up singing with them in church. My daddy loved all kinds of country like Merle and Willie Nelson, plus he played a lot of southern rock. My mom listened to everything from Grateful Dead to Pearl Jam to folk music,” says Langley. “Somewhere around 9 or 10, I fell in love with classic rock, so, I guess you could say little pieces of all those influences made their way into my own sound. I think if you took Chris Stapleton, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett and Willie Nelson, somewhere in the middle of that, you’d find me.”
Langley says she drew inspiration for “One of the Guys” from being surrounded by two brothers, and her tomboy lifestyle that came from it.
“I grew up in the country in Alabama between two rowdy brothers, so I spent a lot of my childhood trying to prove that I was as fearless and tough as they were. Being a tomboy like that, a lot of my friends ended up being guys. My band or anyone who knows me will tell you that sometimes I can seem more like a guy than a girl, but I think women can still be tough, direct and strong, without apologizing for who they are or how they think. I think a lot of girls can relate to that,” says Langley. “When I moved to Nashville last summer into a house full of-you guessed it- guys, I wanted to write a song about it. On my first night here, I wrote ‘One of the Guys’ with some of them (Trey Lewis, Matt McKinney and Clay Barker).”
In just a week since its release, the song has earned nearly 2,000 streams on Spotify, garnered Langley over 800 monthly listeners and landed on major playlists curated by Whiskey Riff and Raised Rowdy, something Langley doesn’t take for granted.
“First, I just am excited people haved connected with the song the way they have. The support from the music industry like Raised Rowdy, Whiskey Riff and my family at 65 South is something I am so grateful for, especially as an independent artist. We couldn’t make it without them, and people like y’all getting behind us the way you do,” says Langley. “I’m also grateful for my music family here in Nashville; there is a real community here that supports each other. When any of us put out new music, we share it and try to help get it out there.”
Though the first few months of 2020 have been filled with turmoil, Langley plans to continue writing and connecting with fans until she can get back on the road and personally bring her music to them.
“It sucks to not be able to work in the way you are used to. I’m grateful I can still do parts of my job, even if it’s just not the way I’m used to doing it. While we live out this pandemic, I’m just trying to find ways to stay creative: keep writing new music, stay connected with my fan base and reach new fans,” says Langley. “I did record what we plan to be my next single right before everything shut down. The plan was to release it this summer, but we’ll just have to see how that goes with the pandemic. As far as touring, everything is either getting rescheduled or is on hold until we know when we can get back on the road.”
As we navigate through the uncertainty that the near future may hold, Langley stresses the power of music, and cherishes the opportunity to continue to share it, as well as parts of her personality, via live videos on social media.
“Music, and all art really, seems like something we need in our lives now more than ever before. Thankfully, we can still put it out there. I’ve been playing my music on a lot of live streams, both on my own social media pages and on other sites. It’s opened my eyes how we can use social media to connect to people in a more personal way than we did before coronavirus. These live streams aren’t polished pre-recorded videos, and sometimes I forget the words to songs people request, but somehow it helps us feel like we are in this together,” says Langley. “I learn more about the people watching and they learn more about me. People watching my live streams and stories now know I am kind of a nerd with a weird sense of humor who has already given her boyfriend one really bad quarantine haircut.”
*Images courtesy of Ella Langley*