Bristol-based singer-songwriter Elles Bailey will be playing Shoreham’s Ropetackle on November 19 as part of an autumn tour which comes after a summer of festivals and a couple of band warm-up shows in early October: “We did two big preview shows with an eight-piece band, and they were amazing. We had a bit of drama on the day of the first one when the drummer had to pull out. I got another drummer. The guy drove from Lincolnshire and learned the set in the car. We had two different drummers on two different nights, but it was great.
“We have been playing festivals during the summer which have been incredible. The first show back I was terrrible. I had forgotten all the words, and I had just had a baby as well, a corona baby, Jasper, who is now six months old. And on the day when we lost our drummer and everything was absolute chaos he just sat there singing to himself, and I just thought what a lovely child I have got!
“But the first gig we did back was in Bournemouth in June 2021 and I arrived with an eight-week old baby and I hadn’t seen so many people for so long and it was just really scary. I had not been in front of a crowd for a long time and I felt I had no idea how I was going to do the show. I was pregnant all through the two lockdowns. No one saw me pregnant, and suddenly I was emerging with a two-month-old baby but I got on stage and everyone was singing the words back to me. I just thought ‘Thank goodness these guys know the words at least!’ and I just felt at home again. It was lovely.
“Having had such a long time off it’s great to be back with the band. It is just such a physical thing: you feel the band; you can hear the cheers and the clapping and the screaming and finally it just all felt real. I guess we always slip back into the old ways. But I will never complain about a sound engineer again. To have done the sound engineering myself in front of a screen doing livestreams was difficult and now to have a sound engineer properly again is the best thing ever.
“Just to see people, it just all feels so real again, and that’s the main thing. I would like to think I’m not going to slip back into the old ways and will appreciate how lucky I am to be still doing this. A lot of people have not been able to continue to make music at all. I have been able to totally continue. I have made a live lockdown album and a new record and I have put out a lot of content online. I’ve been really lucky.
“And having a child adds a new perspective. I’m not important anymore! We have got to think of our child. We’ve got to give him the best possible start we can in life, and every decision that I and my husband now make affects him. We have got to be selfless. The selfish life that I have lived for a very, very long time definitely doesn’t exist anymore! Every decision we make has got to be for the good of our child, and I have found that liberating! I don’t sweat the small stuff in anything like the way I used to. There are so many times when I have just been so stressed out about the smallest things, but you realise they are so insignificant now you have got a child. I’m definitely taking that into the next chapter of the Elles Bailey touring post-pandemic life. The whole new album is about finding a different perspective about life and about the things that we do and about finding the other parts of yourself that you didn’t really pay much attention to and discovering that there are other parts to you as well. You realise a new side to yourself like becoming a mum. The album will come out early next year and is called Shining In The Half Light. The idea behind it is that in March 2020 like many industries our industry was shut down completely, the stages were broken down, the PAs were packed away, the tour buses were parked up and gathered dust and rust, all the venues were completely plunged into dark or really into the half light. But the point is that people came back and started turning on their computers and their webcams and started connecting with people. I watched so many artists spread a little light in lives in times of isolation. And you could see the fans coming together and it was the artists bringing them together and the fans were becoming friends with each other and so there was that light that was coming through as well, through the artists. And it made it such a community, and that’s what the album is about.”