Interview: Strip Down

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Strip Down has established English-born Ellie Gregory as an invigorating fixture of Berlin’s music scene. Her energetic debut video ‘Chez Moi’ has caught the attention of critics and fans alike, earning her a nomination for the inaugural Berlin Music Video Awards. With a rich background in music ranging from studying Cello and Composition to producing electronic music geared towards a more abstract, ambient disposition, Gregory’s new project Strip Down galvanises these talents, focusing on a stripping away of resources and an enthusiastic flirtation with raw technological sounds.

Despite this minimising ethos, Gregory’s work exhibits a deeply embellished quality, as she proves that ‘stripping down’ can indeed serve to enhance a song’s true substance. Her distorted, whispered vocals and rapid-fire abrasive 8-Bit clicks provide a uniquely danceable soundscape that’s, quite simply, impossible to ignore. We talked to Ellie in the run up to the BMVAs to reflect on her project so far:

LSD: Congratulations on being nominated for a BMVA with your debut release; What was it like preparing to shoot your first video?
Ellie Gregory: I had been producing electronic music before, but I had never really created the kind of works you could dance to, so this heralded quite a change for me. It was produced by Patrick T.Lo, a filmmaker from Toronto, who did a fantastic job realising our vision for it. I’m currently collaborating as a composer for other film projects of his.

LSD: How did you arrive at the eventual concept for the Chez Moi video?
Ellie Gregory: Patrick came up with the concept based on the lyrics, which are about cutting my hair at home, also with a line that means ‘If you love me, I don’t know, but you love my beautiful hair like that’. I sometimes wonder how differently people could perceive of the video, depending on if they understand the lyrics or not.

LSD: Could you run through the technology at work in creating your sound?
Ellie Gregory: I began with unedited samples from a Kaossilator (which is a tiny thing, designed to be a DJ accessory or a toy) and ran my voice through the mini KP which is a little handheld Kaoss Pad. Since then I’ve introduced a few extra samples from other little synths, such as a monotron and monotribe and produce everything using Logic. The 8-bit sounds are a direct result of these synths and I think this basic and quite limited setup has been a huge contributor to the style of Strip Down. If I used the software instruments available in Logic, it would sound like a completely different project. Another interesting result from using the Kaossilator is its input, which is through a touch pad, rather than a keyboard. I think through the process of sliding my finger around, I created some melodies and bass lines quite different to if I had been using another setup.

LSD: You’re English, based in Berlin, but sing in French; did you speak French beforehand? How come you decided to sing in French?
Ellie Gregory: I often find lyrics distracting and a bit of an obstacle during the production process, in the same way that the seemingly infinite amount of options within digital production can be. I can’t really speak French at all, so it was another way of stripping down my resources and limiting my output. I really like how musical the French language can be and also that it rhymes a lot, bringing the focus away from the content and more towards the sounds. I have to also admit that I have a group of French friends who found my lyrics hilarious, which was definitely an encouraging factor!

LSD: What is your main focus for the next few months?
Ellie Gregory: I’ve got some nice gigs coming up this Spring and Summer so I’ll be focusing on those and I’ll also be ready to release some tracks in the near future. Patrick and I have been throwing a few ideas around for another video, but there’s nothing set in stone yet. The whole process of shooting the video was a lot of fun, so I would definitely like to do it again.

Video: Strip Down – Chez Moi

Stream: Strip Down – q.q.c.

Stream: Strip Down – Supermarché