“Your journey is just as important as your destination,” Ego Ella May tells Apple Music. “I don't even know if I have a destination, or where that would be if I did—but at the moment, I’m finding the adventure of being a musician interesting, yet so weird at the same time. The fact that it's all very much based on popularity, fame, and status games—and dependent on who you are, people may or may not fan out over you. I find it interesting, and still, ultimately, I don't care.” As lockdown took hold of the UK in spring 2020, the London singer-songwriter released her majestic debut album, Honey for Wounds—a diaristic, jazz-infused exploration of growth and unlearning. While enjoying her whirlwind year of acclaim, the singer hit the brakes and faced down the surrounding uncertainty. “To simply exist in this pandemic was just enough,” she says. “That was it—I was like, ‘I don't even need to do anything else, I’m just going to take it all in.’ That's how I ended up writing again.” Drawn from the quiet of isolation, FIELDNOTES shakes off the funk of post-pandemic burnout and fills in the blanks that impeded Ego Ella May’s creativity for much of the time. “I’d never used the term ‘field notes’ before—but it came up in conversation, and I looked it up, like, ‘Oh my god, this is exactly it.’ These are all my musings, my observations and scientific research of lockdown, how it's affected me, and others.” Below, Ego Ella May takes us through her meditative four-track EP.
“I made this track with [UK artist] Geo Jordan—an incredible multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer-songwriter. He's one of those people that can do everything to a high standard. It's irritating, as I can barely work with the one instrument. The EP actually plays in the exact order that I wrote these songs, so we start here, at that time during the pandemic when everyone was trying to be really productive. And I was confused, like, ‘Am I the only one in this global pandemic?’ I wasn’t up for attempting to become this best-selling author, or make banana bread, so I wrote this song almost giving myself permission to literally lie on the floor—do nothing for a bit, just breathe, and let that be enough.”
“This track is the most wordy on the EP, and it’s one I was maybe scared of releasing. I wouldn’t say it’s anti-government, but in the moment of writing this song, I was very frustrated with the media. Reading or watching the news, it all felt divided… ‘This is the answer to the virus,’ and the next day, ‘No, this is the answer, you have to do this now.’ Naturally, there was just so much fear and separation. The news was giving me anxiety, and causing me to live in fear, causing me to judge people, so I was confused, yo-yoing, and this song is about how I would actually like life to be, and how my perfect day would be instead.”
“I Feel Something”
“I wrote this song in the early period of 2021. I ran away to Margate [on the English south coast] and stayed in an Airbnb for a month or so. It was by the sea, and it was really beautiful. I guess I needed a change; it was that period when nothing was open and everything was at a standstill. I felt like escaping would solve my problems. It didn’t—because everything was also shut in Margate. At least I had all my equipment with me, and I was planning to record anyway, so being in a different space helped. This song is about trying new things. I tried running whilst away. I usually don't like being super out of breath, but I tried to feel something. I was looking for anything to make me feel less numb, something to help me feel at this moment. It was just a very weird time to be alive.”
“Speck of Dust”
“This is a good roundup song—because at this point, I was out of that period of sameyness. I think things were starting to open up a bit. I’d been through a lot during this period, my emotions were on one, and I remember thinking to myself: ‘You know none of this shit matters…nothing actually matters?’ And when I say stuff like that, it can sound really dark and negative, but it’s in probably the most positive way possible. What I mean is all the things that I think are a lot in my head, they really amount to nothing. I'm just this little ant in the universe, and it just doesn't matter, I’m just a speck of dust. So really thinking about it in that way, I'm kind of content with being unhappy because I know that I will be happy again. You have moments where you feel shit, but ultimately, it doesn't matter anyway. One day you're here, and then you're not, I keep saying, but in a good way.”