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Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Gayle Ellett of Fernwood from 2015

It's been several years since we last chatted. Can you catch the readers up on what's new in the world of Gayle Ellett?

I do commercial music for film and TV, and I also write art music for myself (and anyone else who wants to hear it). I try to divide my music into those two camps. And I just finished the third Fernwood album: Arcadia, with my pal Todd Montgomery. It’s a great album (in my highly biased opinion!), and we worked really hard on it. It took about five years to make because I was really busy also working on many other albums as well. During that time I wrote another eight albums, so I’ve been quite busy! I’m super happy with the new Fernwood album Arcadia (it’s coming out on vinyl LP too). It’s the best album I’ve made so far, and I’ve played on over 100 albums, so that’s pretty good.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
The future awaits us all, but I’m not really sure what lies ahead. There are two new albums that I play on by Swedish Pop band Ecovillage that will come out this year. I’ll be recording with the Texas band Herd Of Instinct for our third album. My progressive band Djam Karet will probably re-release re-mastered versions of six of our previous albums (because they are now out-of-print). And I’ll keep playing with my totally improvised jazz band Hillmen. And I play in many local Topanga bands: Joee Corso, Jim Crawford’s band, Hani Naser (contemporary Arabic music), etcetera. And my acoustic group Fernwood will probably write some more music for a possible fourth album (we just released our third). And I’ll probably do more music for film and TV (I’ve scored music for 50 different TV series world-wide). So, basically, I’ll just keep busy making more music!
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I really like the group 3MA (Driss El-Maloumi, Ballaké Sissoko, Malgache Rajery), My Brother The Wind, Gustavo Santoalalla’s The Last of Us.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Yup, I really liked Art & Physics by L.Shlain, A New Kind of Science by S.Wolfram, Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks, This Is Your Brain on Music by D.Levitin, Sound and Recording by Rumsey & McCormick, Capital in the Twenty-first Century by T.Piketty (English version). Generally I like reading science books.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
That was probably Tin Hat, a cool group from the Bay Area. I’m going to go see them again at McCabes (a guitar store) in Santa Monica next month. They did the music for the film Nebraska.
MSJ: Do you have a musical "guilty pleasure?"
I really like the Swedish DeathMetal band Opeth, but I don’t feel guilty about!
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
We lost half of our band at the Amsterdam airport when we flew to France to headline a three-day festival held on the beach near Bordeaux. When we changed planes in Amsterdam the guys wanted to wander around the huge airport, but they got lost and missed the next flight. I won’t embarrass them now by telling you their names, but Mike Henderson, Arron Kenyon and Mike Murray know who I’m talking about! I think next time we’ll put little leashes on them and tie them all together. That’s still probably legal, right?
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Les Paul, Miles Davis, and Lyle Mays (he’s a bit funny looking, but he plays keyboards great).
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Food for thought, of course! And we’d have cheese burgers, because cheese is good. You can’t be serious all of the time.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
I would like to encourage all musicians to make more records, I wanna hear them! Buy ProTools, learn how to use it, and after you’ve made a few albums … then you’ll get good at it. And remember, life is not a competition to see who can put in the least amount of effort (even though some people seem to act that way). I always say “Work hard, work hard, work hard, and when you are done … work harder!” Most things in life can be improved with endless hard work. 

Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about my music!

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 2 at
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