Ellie Innocenti is the guitarist and songwriter in the biggest band you’ve probably never heard of: Deluka.
Despite their big, anthemic guitars-meets-electro sound, soundtrack credits on some of the biggest video games, commercials and MTV shows; this LA based, English four piece are signed to a small US label and still find themselves jostling to be heard above the general hubbub of mainstream music. With the release of their epic EP Bonds earlier this year and a European release imminent, Innocenti hopes their music will soon reach the bigger audience it rightly deserves.
She Shreds: You’ve been playing guitar and writing songs for a long time now, how old were you when you first picked up the guitar?
Ellie Innocenti: I have indeed! Basically since I was 12. My parents bought me a tiny three quarter sized guitar for my birthday. It was a wild card gift on their part, but that decision basically changed/shaped my life. I didn’t ask for it, but it was the best gift I ever got. I became so obsessed with learning it that I spent hours playing daily. I would take it to school and practice in any break I had, then run home and continue playing. I was a very shy child, but learning to play and realizing I was getting decent at it, definitely brought me out of my shell and I would enjoy showing my parents or anyone else that cared to listen, what I’d learnt.
SS: What was it like to write your first song?
EI: I wrote my first song when I was 14. I’d mastered the basic chords by this time and was so obsessed with fitting chords/melody and words together. Songwriting was also a way of expressing myself without having to talk! I’m still not good at talking on stage or in public but find it much easier to sing a song and express myself that way.
SS: Who were your early influences, which female guitarists inspired you over the years?
Around that same time Britpop was exploding in England, so there was a plethora of guitar driven bands to be influenced by. I loved Blur and Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene especially, as they were from our hometown. I was obsessed with Garbage and Elastica. I loved Justine Frischmann’s [Elastica’s Singer-Guitarist] couldn’t-give-a-fuck Guitar playing style: very nonchalant and nothing fancy, just using it as a tool to write these badass, attitude laden songs. I also love Chrissie Hynde. My folks were Pretenders fans so I would see those records lying around and be very taken with her image and then discovered she actually wrote and played these great New Wave, well crafted songs.
What guitars do you currently play?
Live I currently play a custom, road worn white Telecaster, which is my homage to Chrissie Hynde. I also have a vintage Gibson Sonex, which I randomly bought in Leeds, England some years ago. We played a show there and I happened to pop into this vintage shop, I saw it and fell in love with it. I didn’t have the money to buy it at the time, but kept phoning the shop up when we returned home to Birmingham to see if they still had it. When I’d saved up enough cash I convinced Kris [guitarist in Deluka and songwriting partner] to drive all the way back up there to get it! It sounds really cool, but it’s so heavy as it’s fiberglass, so I had to switch to the Tele for live purposes. I also have a hand made Japanese K. Yari acoustic. I love it. I’ve had it since I was 16 and will hold onto it forever. It’s one of the best sounding acoustics I’ve heard and has a lot of sentimental value as I’ve written so many songs on it over the years.
Can you describe a typical song writing development sessions with yourself and Kris? Who does what and how does the dynamic work for writing and producing songs together?
Our songwriting process varies but usually starts from the beat up. Kris will start programming something. It can be as sparse as a beat and a bass line and I can start to form a song around that. Or it can develop into something very full from a collage of sounds we’ve been collecting and talking about for ages. Kris is an amazing producer, he has always inspired me with the sounds he creates. My duties on the most part are the top line melodies and the words, and then together we’ll arrange it. We basically talk about songwriting ALL THE TIME. It’s an ongoing process even if we’re not sitting down with a guitar. We’re always collecting ideas, whether it’s sounds we like, or words and concepts.
There’s some pretty euphoric moments to the new EP, does that mean the move out West has been a positive inspiration for your new material?
Living in LA is pretty unreal for four people from Birmingham, England and the move definitely had a positive effect on our songwriting. A change of scenery can work wonders. I know it’s a cliché but there is something magical about the light of the West Coast: the heat and the blue skies. It lifts your mood, it really does! Being away from family and friends in the UK is hard, but we’ve learned to adapt and Skype basically makes it possible. I chat daily to my family. We’ll put the kettle on and just be talking like we’re in the same room! I’d be lost without that now.
You guys have a super tight sound that sounds incredibly close to the records. How much do you have to rehearse to achieve that?
When we have a tour or shows coming up, we rehearse every day. Little and often is our motto and it works well for us.