Discussing Growth, Losing Followers and the Importance of Authenticity with Ellie Dixon
Ellie Dixon | London
Ellie Dixon is destined to be your new favourite pop star.
Having started writing and producing her own music at the tender age of fifteen, the now-22 year old has amassed an impressive platform through her quirky, honest videos, and snappy covers, all while exploring her creative authenticity.
A fusion of R’n’B, jazz, alt rock, and pop, Ellie Dixon seems to have a natural ability to traverse genres with ease, using her sound to portray shifting mindsets and themes. Combining her love of production with content creation, she’s seen an explosion in growth over the past 12 months with an appearance at The Great Escape, a coveted spot at Radio 1s Big Weekend, an incredible live session at Maida Vale Studios, attention from major acts like Zara Larsson and Glass Animals, and garnered more than 480k followers across Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok.
“Realistically, in my head, growth is always a thing,” she reflects, “[Your first thousand to two thousand followers] are the hardest thousands you'll ever do. After that, the growth is so much easier because you've already got the ball rolling. It's gone a bit mad.”
It’s not all been plain sailing though, she notes, recalling 2.5k followers swiftly departing after she posted a TikTok video (where she’s amassed a following of 403.5k) showing her leg hair. “It just doesn't make sense and some of the comments were a really terrifying glimpse into the psyche of what people are told. Guys are saying ‘what’s next? Is she gonna not brush her teeth?’ How on earth have we reached this point where that is a common opinion? It’s really messed up.” The problem is bigger than one video though, with the response being representative of the complex beauty standards impressed upon modern day women. “When you actually think about it, in every single piece of media that you've ever seen in your life, there was no hair on women...apart from when it's a punchline. The first time I [went out with unshaved legs], I went to Tesco with my full leg hair out. No one died. I was fine. After that I realistically cannot go outside without leg hair now just so other people see it and acknowledge that it happens and it's not gonna end the world.”
With a blossoming platform, it’s clear social activism is set to play a large, continuing role in Dixon’s content. “The biggest thing is presenting the change you want to see. I personally want to represent women being seen as people. Having women seeing my stuff and [seeing me] doing a technical thing that I’m respected for doing and there's nothing sexual about it, there's nothing about my appearance. I will dance like an idiot and that for me is like the most rewarding thing that I want to do. Giving people that feeling of being able to just be a person. General social injustice I will always speak about but for me, the thing that is closest to my heart is gender equality because that's something that I've experienced.”
With the male gaze and the sexualisation of women rife in the entertainment industry, it’s evident this plays on Dixon’s mind. There is a pressure to be and act a certain way that bleeds into all aspects of creation that needs to be consciously scrutinised in order to find a truer artistic voice. This exercise in fine-tuning taste is one that Dixon is well versed in. “A phrase I like is ‘when I think about presenting myself or dressing myself I don’t dress myself like a sexy lady, I like to dress myself like I was a character on Animal Crossing,” she explains with a laugh. “I want to wear cool shit. That was the best way I could explain the shift in mindset. It was like viewing yourself as a cool character that you'd want to be friends with. My Animal Crossing character is fresh! Up until recently I was always wanting to make music that was emotional and pretty but now in my music I do a lot of weird voices and say things in an unattractive way and that was when I started getting the best response to my music, when I was being as true to myself as possible. I think people can sniff out that authenticity.”
From singles Space Out to Sucker to Green Grass, Dixon has not only crafted stories, but distinct characters for each. Exploring themes from attention (or a distinct lack of it), infatuation, emotional dysregulation, interpersonal relationships and overflowing optimism, each track she’s released from her upcoming EP has had a specific mood of its own. With two more tracks
remaining, you can’t help but wonder what topics will tie the entire piece of work together. “I prefer it when EPs or releases aren't all singles. I really want this EP to be a thing in its own right and it's very much a concept EP”. With a sample of her mother featuring on the joyful Green Grass, she continues, “It is kinda about my mum cause she's just the most incredible source of wisdom and life advice… I went very AJR inspired. They do lots of sampling, hip hop kinda drums, a bunch of brass. There's a whole lot of trumpet in this one. I had a friend play some trumpet in and sampled the living shit out of it. I finally downloaded the izotope vinyl plugin so I could make it sound all old timey. It's just so much fun and positive and what we need at the minute. It's getting warmer, we want summer vibes, you're getting summer vibes.”
So what’s next for the pop prodigy? Is there a secret to her success? Where will she be in a year? “I have never considered that I'm not Beyonce,” she laughs, “It's all a weird game of charades, everyones pretending they've got the secret, that there's some magic sauce that will make you famous… I love making videos and I'm never not going to be making harmony videos or covers. That's at the core of what I enjoy doing. I don't really want to be an artist that just makes records and then hides. You never know, my armpit hair will be down to my arse cheeks by then, I'll be growing luscious locks.”
Green Grass is out now.