Interview: Elena Ramona
Singer-songwrite Elena Ramona grew up on the Greek island of Skiathos before moving to the UK at the age of 10 to attend boarding school in Warminster. After finishing school she studied at the Academy of Contemporary Music at Guildford and in 2014 released her debut EP Hold On, a collection of piano driven, soul tinged ballads. In 2017 she returned with the outstanding single ‘The Neon Lights’ which saw Ramona embracing disco-infused electro pop, a genre she continued with her second EP, this year’s Foreverlution. We recently caught up with Elena to find out more about her background, her music and her future plans.
Hi Elena! Great to talk to you today. Can we start off by talking about when music first came into your life?
My first memories of music as a child was watching The Beatles ‘Yellow Submarine’ song on VCR when I was sick. There was so much going on in the video it distracted me from being sick!
Were their any musicians you were particularly into as a child?
Growing up I enjoyed a wide range of musicians such as Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Eminem and the Spice Girls. My all time favourites however were All Saints and Destiny’s Child, I loved their cool fashion sense and their girl power attitude - it was brilliant.
When did you decide you wanted to make music your career?
I started learning the piano when I was seven and then when I was 12 I was given a part in the school play with a singing part. It was my first time performing in front of a big audience and since then I have just wanted to perform to people.
You released your first EP Hold On in 2014 – how did this first recording come together?
I worked on my first EP for over a year before releasing it along with my friend and composer Martyn Corbet. It took me a while to be happy with it though and I changed a lot of things to make sure it was as good as it could be before finally recording it. People gave me some kind constructive feedback which I was very grateful for, and the EP gained radio airplay and press coverage in and around my local area.
Do you have a process for writing and creating your music?
Not really no. Sometimes it can take me a month to finish something or a week, it all depends on how I am feeling, I sometimes start a song, take a break and come back to it with fresh ears and eyes to make sure it is at a high standard musically and vocally before releasing it to the public.
What artists inspire you or have influenced your sound?
I am inspired by many artists new and old, my main inspirations are Sia, Eminem, Pink, Adele, Michael Jackson and the Beatles. These artists are timeless in my opinion. There is always a story, a genuine person and a struggle behind their songs. They have inspired me to always stay true to myself and wear my heart on my sleeve.
You released your latest EP Foreverlution in September, can you tell us a little about how the EP came together?
I wrote and recorded the EP in my bedroom in Guildford! The title Foreverlution means forever evolving as an artist, this is also a reflection of the fluid nature of the music industry today.
The sound is quite different to your first EP, with more of an electronica sound compared to the more stripped back acoustic feel of Hold On. What inspired this change of sound?
I slowly evolved into a working with a more current sound, I believe it suits my personality and vocal more than the stripped back version of myself did. Working with a more commercial sound also gives me the opportunity to be more creative and versatile.
What are your thoughts on the current gender equality debate? Do you think we have a problem with sexism in the music industry, both from within the industry and with how the general public perceive female artists?
I feel like we have come a long way, but still have a way to go. Society and the industry itself have painted females in music, especially pop, in a very negative light. They associate most of them with sex which in turn makes some artists write certain songs and behave in a certain way to attract the opposite sex and gain validation for all the wrong reasons. Social media is a prime example of this, young aspiring female artists posing half naked to gain momentum for their artistry, some believe this is expected of them as women in music and conform to the “norm”. As a result, there is less of a focus on the music and women are being objectified rather than listened too.
In your career have you experienced episodes of sexism, or where you felt you were disrespected or treated differently because of your gender?
I was playing a gig in London a couple of years ago, the venue was great and the vibe was cool, however after the gig I went to get a drink and was approached by a man who told me my outfit was not “sexy” enough - everything else was great but he would of liked it more if I was wearing less clothes.
I was outraged by this statement and it saddened me hugely because many more women in and out of music are exposed to this kind of behaviour from ignorant members of the public.
What’s up next for Elena Ramona?
I am currently planning the release of my 6th single ‘ Battle Scars’ - I am very excited!