Interview: Elise Davis

Elise

“When I was 11, I decided I wanted to be in an all-girl punk band, so I started taking drum lessons and I gathered a group of girls; none of them were serious about it, and it was really frustrating because I was super-serious about it—as an 11 year old. The band quickly broke up,” says  Americana songstress Elise Davis with a laugh. It’s that same intensity and dedication that inspired the Arkansas native to move to Nashville to pursue her music career several years ago, culminating in the creation of her brilliant new album, The Token, which was released on September 9th via Make The Kill Records and Thirty Tigers.

“It was a two-year process, and it feels really cool to have it out,” she explains. “I spent a lot of time with it, went back into the studio a couple of times to re-cut some songs, and just lived with it for a while. It was worth it.” Calling upon session musicians from bands like Bon Iver, Sharon Van Etten, Indigo Girls, and The National, along with the guidance of musician and producer Sam Kassirer (Anthony D’Amato, Langhorne Slim, Lake Street Dive) helped Davis break through the country sound to which she was accustomed. “I can’t escape the Southern-ness in my singing,” she laughs. “I feel like Sam brought out the best of every song. I’d never worked with a producer, and it was so interesting to know that someone cared about my little iPhone recordings as much as he did.”

Davis flew to Maine, met and shook hands with the band, and the entire group traveled to the middle of the snowy woods to lock themselves in a cabin to record. “We ate together, slept on cots next to each other in a room together, we were so close-knit. We had no internet or cell phone service; I found that without the constant checking of my messages and my social media that I became so immersed in what we were doing. We played all day and all night,” she recalls. “It was the most fun thing.”

The Token is like a diary of Davis’ experiences and her perspective on being a career-oriented woman making tough choices in the midst of an historically conservative environment. There are songs about commitment and lack thereof, emotional battles about the life she’s choosing as a young woman–staring tradition in the eyes and walking in a different direction. “I’m not great at talking about my feelings, but I can write songs about them and get them out that way. Everything on The Token is true to my life,” Davis admits. “I have a modern approach to my life and my sexuality as a woman, I’m really open on the record about it—on the album I wanted to make a statement about whichever path you choose, whether it’s a more traditional one or not, that it’s okay.”

Purchase The Token: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-token/id1135033051

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Susan Hubbard

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