MUSIC – Michelle Elii's the life and soul of Glasgow

IT has been a few years since Glasgow- based singer-songwriter Michelle Elii made her mark on the music scene.

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Michelle Elii will be playing King Tut's Wah Wah Hut next week
Michelle Elii will be playing King Tut's Wah Wah Hut next week

Supporting the likes of Jay Z, Akon and Taio Cruz and a top 10 finalist on Sky TV's Britain's Next Urban Superstar she was one of Scotland's rising stars.

But for a few years, her attention was pulled away to other events in her life, including a possible move to America and the loss of a loved one.

Now she is back and hoping to return with her solo-debut in a more soulful, jazz-based sound, including an appearance next week in Glasgow.

Michelle, 27, said: "There has been a lot happening,

"I could write a book on the last three years, so that has been what was keeping me away from my music. But it has aided me in a way because it has helped me write music.

"Things are a lot calmer now and that has made me feel more confident.

"It's made me stronger through the years, so I believe I have songs in me I can get out there."

Performing in resident slots in Glasgow and with her 1930s club night, The Baby Blues Club, she started to focus on old school soul, jazz and blues.

By fusing this with her urban and R 'n' B roots she feels she has finally found her identity with a more mature, piano-based sound.

She has also spent the last few years setting up a home studio so her new EP will be recorded, mixed and mastered by herself at home.

This, she says, will give it a "better feel", like many of the "big acts who recorded debut albums in their own bedroom".

She will also showcase her new material with a special Christmas gig at King Tut's in Glasgow city centre.

She said: "My music is soul, jazz and R 'n' B and if you could fuse the three, it would be pretty much that. Before, I was doing a lot of hip-hop stuff.

"I was thrown in the deep end, because all that started when I began recording in Glasgow and it was all rappers that took me on board.

"But I love R 'n' B and soul – that is my heart and my songs will be primarily more soul-based.

"My gig is going to be like a sort of storytelling session. It will show where I have been in the last few years with relationships, life, jobs and everything."

Performing with Michelle will be two close friends, Sean Reid and DMR, who are also making names for themselves in their own right.

Sean recently played to a crowd of thousands in Ibiza alongside DJ George Bowie, while DMR has worked with American labels and artists, including Justin Timberlake's producer.

Michelle is hoping the night will be an "epic" one ahead of a release of her material at the end of next month.

Then her goal will be to move to London to try and make herself known as a songwriter, following in the footsteps of fellow Scot Emile Sande, whom she used to gig with.

Alicia Keys and Prince are some of the American people she would love to write for, while Emile Sande's own collaborator, Labrinth, is the top of her list for UK artists.

She said: "I have always followed Labrinth's work, even before he was signed. He is fantastic because, again, he is a singer, songwriter and producer and is so versatile.

"He is so young and talented – to get into a studio with someone like that would be amazing."

She also thinks there is more exposure for female urban artists in the UK – but issues a warning.

She added: "Doors are being opened, but there are a lot of female musicians who look the same and try to sound like Rihanna.

"I have heard Rita Ora live and she has a great voice, but a lot of her songs are not great. That is who I would like to go and write for.

"Everything is starting to sound the same with dance and R 'n' B. It is like dance music has taken over the whole genre. I would like to channel the more jazz and soul vibe."

l Michelle Elii, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, St Vincent Street, December 19. Doors open 8.30pm, tickets £7. See: www.kingtuts.co.uk

FIONA McKAY

Arts and Entertainment

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