GARETH JOHN chats to upcoming musical talent Ellen Smith ahead of her York gig on Saturday

ELLEN Smith is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer from Leeds who has previously won Q Magazine’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition and has made two main stage appearances at this world-famous festival.

After a period of writing and touring, she released music with dark-electro pop band Shadowlark before signing a publishing deal with 13 Artists and Warner Chappell UK.

Having been commissioned to write the eponymous soundtrack to the Amazon Prime Leeds United promotion winning season documentary Take Us Home, Ellen went on to release her first solo material. A further commission saw her arrange and record compositions for BBC Radio 4. She is currently writing and recording solo material among other projects which are set for release in 2024.

Ellen is performing with The Lowells at the FortyFive Vinyl Café in York on Saturday, December 9 and caught up with Gareth John beforehand.

How would you describe your music and what are your influences?

I grew up in the 90s on a strict diet of The Beatles and Britpop, so for me it's always been about songwriting. I love all the great songwriters and artists - Carole King, Fleetwood Mac and all the rest, but obviously there are loads more modern artists who I admire and listen to a lot. I've been really into Bonny Light Horseman and Sharon Van Etten, Madison Cunningham - all incredible writers. Then there are bands like Radiohead and Wilco who have really inspired me with their arrangements, Wild Beasts with their lyrics... the list goes on.

York Press: Ellen Smith by Andy LittleEllen Smith by Andy Little

What are you working on now?

I've been slowly making a record, I think. Just getting in the studio with some friends who've been generous with their time. It's been really relaxed, and we've tried not to put too much pressure on it, just experiment a bit and see what turns up. It's more like a pile of songs that we're making our way through and then we'll see what makes the cut I suppose. It's been nice for us to just self produce it and see where it goes.

The Amazon Prime Leeds United documentary received a lot of coverage. How did you become involved in the project?

I was working as a sound recordist for The City Talking who are the film production company that made the documentary. I'd known those guys a long time and they knew I was a Leeds fan, so they asked if I wanted to come and work on it. They've been supportive of me and my various music projects for a lot of years and wondered whether I'd be up for writing and recording some music for the documentary. I loved it, didn't really imagine Take Us Home would connect quite like it did, so I'm really grateful to have been involved, and to be a little part of the history.

What are you looking forward to about your York show?

York Press: FortyFive Vinyl Cafe in YorkFortyFive Vinyl Cafe in York

I've always really loved intimate shows - my songs are all quite personal, so I think it'll be nice to get to play them on a cosy Christmas night in York. I played my first ever show in York lots of years ago at the Basement City Screen, so I've always enjoyed coming back. It'll be great to play with The Lowells too, so I think it's gonna be a lovely night, I'm looking forward to it!

Tickets for double headliner Ellen Smith / The Lowells at the FortyFive Vinyl Café are available from the café or online at

Find out more about Ellen at: and @ellensmith_uk on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter/X.