Both Justin Golden (guitar, sounds, backing vocals) and Tasha grew up in Akron. Seems that Tasha was playing piano in the womb. Justin says, “Tasha’s been a ‘words’ person since she was really young …we have some hilarious nine-year-old Tasha journals.” And then there is her voice. Tasha’s vocals have an original yet immediately recognizable sound that makes comparisons tricky. When you hear it, you know it’s her and the vocals come across with a quietly steady yet undeniably strong presence, full of smooth heart that leaks out with each breath.
In high school, Justin rocked out Grunge on an old family acoustic. Tasha comments, “He came into music playing a kind of neo-Folk/Pop style,” a style that later gelled with Tasha’s writing when the two met in college. Tasha says, “After a few months we decided to officially give the music thing a try as the two of us. It really began as a music experiment. That turned into an engagement.”
Ric Hordinski produced Ellery’s 2006 debut album, Lying Awake, released on Seattle’s Virt Records. Hordinski’s Monastery Studio in Walnut Hills, a converted 19th century church, is a “large, beautiful performance space that’s full of vibe and emotion,” Tasha says. Monastery is also the site of their candlelit full-band gig this week.
Since 2006, Ellery has garnered attention from both local and national press. The duo’s music has played on TV dramas, in Starbucks and on U.S.
and U.K. radio. In 2007, they won the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest. The past two years, Ellery has been a semi-finalist in Paste Magazine’s Rock ‘n’ Reel at Sea contest.
After recording a full-length this summer with Grammy-winning producer Malcolm Burn (Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, Iggy Pop), Ellery was inspired to punch out Down, Down, Down, its 2009 holiday EP.
The full-length will come out this spring. Justin explains: “We’re in that interesting place many artists now find themselves, deciding whether to release an album on our own or on a label — it’s a lot to weigh.”
On recording with Burn, Justin says, “It was kind of mind-blowing.” He calls Burn a “creative genius,” adding, “Some of our songs saw big changes during the recording process, but mostly Malcolm trusted our intuition and ideas, with a little suggestion or encouragement here and there.” They completed the 11-song record in two weeks.
Tasha says, “I thought I had to write songs a certain way, present myself a certain way, sing a certain way, and (Burn) kind of blew that apart. Listening now, it sounds subtle, but at the time it was shattering — in a good way.”
This year, Ellery completed an extensive U.S. house show tour. “Some rooms are so crowded you’re nearly on top of each other,” Justin says of the tour’s intimate nature. “Our furthest show was out in Kansas City, in front of a fireplace, with a kitty cat wandering by every great now and then.”
Currently, they’re pursuing more TV placement and radio promotion. Tasha says, “Hopefully our music will invade your favorite evening shows sometime soon. This new record is our most ambitious project so far, so we want to do everything we can to make sure it goes as far as it can. We’re working on tour plans, spending some time in LA, etc.”
“The independent route can be both wonderfully satisfying and deeply frustrating,” Justin says. “We love that our music is ours, that we can do with it what we want.”
But, Tasha adds, that’s only true to an extent.
“Without some help in the industry, you can’t really do what you want with your music,” she admits. “So the ideal is to work with a team of people who really get what you do, who can help take your music to the next level without damaging or misrepresenting it in some way.”
ELLERY plays a candlelit holiday show Friday at Monastery Studios. Download the duo’s entire Down, Down, Down holiday EP for the price of your choosing at www.ellery.bandcamp.com.