Producing music and heartening melodies since the age of 14, USC rising artist Ellie Williams is currently racking up over 140,000 monthly Spotify listeners and aspiring to write songs for top pop musicians such as Alessia Cara.
Majoring in pop music performance with an emphasis in songwriting and a minor in the music industry, Williams has written countless songs, produced her own album “Act my Age” and hopes to one day pursue songwriting as a career.
Growing up, Williams’ life was heavily influenced by her musical family.
“As a kid, my dad would play guitar for me and my older sisters, and I would write songs with my sisters and play guitar hero and pretend to have concerts on the coffee table and write songs about monsters and mermaids,” Williams said.
Some of the earliest songs Williams remembers writing are “Shoelace” and “Baby Got a Run,” both of which she wrote as a kid with her sister. However, William’s first song that she felt had meaning and depth was “Sweet Dreams,” which can be found on her Spotify.
Her family’s musical influence helped her find her love for music at such a young age. Many of these experiences helped develop her musical sound today. From Nat King Cole to Norah Jones, a lot of the music Williams listened to while growing up was introduced to her by her father.
“I think there’s just so much music intake all the time that subconsciously just plays a role in every song that I write,” Williams said.
As her passion grew, Williams began to take guitar, piano and voice lessons, even joining choir in middle school where she sang soprano. At theage of 13, she began performing with her piano teacher at jazz clubs, singing jazz standards.
Not much later Williams began doing solo performances where she transitioned into singing pop and alternative music.
Williams’ passion for music quickly turned from a side hobby to a serious passion. In middle school she began taking music lessons from musician Ashley Davis, who also produces music for streaming platforms.
Williams recalls the two of them working together on one of Davis’ songs. After working through the plot and the characters of the songs and arranging the lyrics, Williams left that day knowing what she wanted to do with her life was make music.
“I left that day being like, ‘OK, this is what I want to do. Like, I loved that.’ So that was kind of how I really really got into it,” Williams said.
In high school, Williams moved from Kansas to California with her mom to pursue her music career. Her freshman year of high school, she did online school in order to release her first album, “Act my Age.” The process of recording an album at such a young age taught Williams about the studio setting.
“Going from no knowledge of a studio setting to recording a whole album was a big leap,” Williams said.
Williams moved to California having never produced music, but by the time she had finished her first album that year she was familiar with all the details of the studio setting. Her imagination at the time was very strong and she was able to write a lot of songs bu wasn’t yet well-versed in all that went into the production aspect. Her producer taught her how to record, do background vocals, doubles and harmonize.
This first album, “Act my Age,” was inspired by a multitude of events she was living through at the time.
“The ones that I did bring in myself were all inspired from situations that I was going through, like my friends’ breakup and a crush that I had and one relationship. I think it was a mix between that and also writing about what I thought about the idea of love at that moment in time,” Williams said.
Williams’ more recent music has also been inspired by events and relationships in her own life. “Clueless,” which Williams claims to be her most rewarding and vulnerable single, was inspired by confusion in her personal relationships.
“One particular day that we’d hung out they were just extra confusing that day and I came home and was just kind of frustrated because I couldn’t figure them out,” Williams said. “I just sat down and kind of vented in the form of lyrics and that’s kind of how clueless came about.”
According to Williams, her recent music, including “Clueless,” “Perfect Playlist,” “Aren’t We” and “Live Cinema,” were all written around a similar time when she was developing a consistent sound that represents who she is and the music she wants to create.
“I think those four songs kind of represent a certain time in my life,” Williams said. “They kind of are like a little bit of a time capsule for me and I definitely think they share a lot of similarities.”
Williams continues writing songs all the time to practice her songwriting skills. She is also practicing music production to share more content with her listeners.
“I’m always writing music for myself,” Williams said. “I think most songwriters will write probably 1,000 songs that the public never hears, because it’s just them practicing their craft and working on it.”
Remi Frolichman, Williams’ freshman year roommate and long time friend, mentioned how she constantly felt inspired by the consistent effort Williams put into her music.
“Seeing her working independently was really inspiring to me because I got to see how much of her time she takes to be creative, and that, it definitely encouraged me to do the same with my time,” Frolichman said.
Caleb Tischbern, a sophomore majoring in popular music, has been friends with Williams since high school. They have worked together on Williams’ music and he has been featured playing the drums on several of her songs, such as “Clueless.”
“Now obviously, a couple years later she’s still doing the same thing, but now she’s getting way more recognition for work and the numbers are showing and she’s releasing more music which is great because we always told her like she needs to release music,” Tischbern said. “It’s been great to just see her growth as a musician and an artist.”
Ultimately, Williams considers herself a songwriter and is in the process of creating more music for her listeners. However, she has yet to announce any release dates.
Once the pandemic has passed, Williams hopes to continue doing tours and live performances. These were a huge part of her career before the pandemic and are something that Williams hopes to be doing again soon.
“I think, at the core, I would consider myself a songwriter. I really love writing songs and writing music. So if I’m not doing that for myself, I want to be doing it for other people,” Williams said.