“Heartbreak Is Inevitable” Ella Vos Opens Up

"I celebrate the power I have stepped into as a woman comfortable in her skin and in her body..."

For a minute there, Ella Vos lost sight of herself. Two extraordinary albums made her name, with 2017’s ‘Words I Never Said’ and 2020 follow-up ‘Turbulence’ finding huge global success. Singles like ‘White Noise’ went viral, but the pressure to continually create, to continually meet those skyscraper standards took their toll.

Suffering post-natal depression, Ella Vos was then struck down with lymphoma. Taking time out, she started from the ground up, assembling a new team in the process.

New album ‘SUPERGLUE’ charts her rise, crafted alongside Max Hershenow (Carly Rae Jepsen, MS MR) and Tommy English (Kacey Musgraves, Noah Cyrus). A story of heartbreak and new love, it details some crucial lows, and some effervescent highs.

In this essay, Ella Vos explores the album and her processes at length, extolling some wisdom in the process.

Hi, it’s me, Lauren, aka Ella Vos

It’s been a long time. Nearly three years since I was here, writing to you about my new album. Everything has changed. We don’t have to talk about all the details, but I wanted to share a few things with you. 

I’ve just finished my third studio album, which I’ve called ‘Superglue’. It’s bubbly, experimental, fresh, erotic yet wholesome, all while being honest, vulnerable and true to me. 

More than a collection of songs, and unlike anything I’ve ever created, it’s a modern love story that documents my healing process after a massive heartbreak. Not just romantic heartbreak, but the heartbreak of being a woman, a mother, an artist. The heartbreak of growing older. The heartbreak of chopping off my long red hair. 

Heartbreak is inevitable, no matter how much we try to escape it. What I learned is that in order to put the pieces back together in a way I wanted, it would take making immense changes in my life. 

And so I did. And in the wake of healing and new love, ‘Superglue’ was born.

Some say the best way to get over a heartbreak is to fall in love again, and that turned out to be true. Not only did I fall in love with Tommy, who I married and made this album with, but I also fell back in love with myself, and grew my love for my son. 

I fell in love with all things related to healing, including an obsession with the color green—the color of growth, new life, the heart chakra. It’s taken over my wardrobe, and soon my house will be all green too. I know it’s quite a jump from the ethereal white angelic look that I donned for years. Last night I wore a green dress with green tights and green rubber boots to watch a show at The Wiltern and the security guard said I looked like a St. Patty’s Day parade. I didn’t mind.

I parted ways with the music partner and collaborator who I began Ella Vos with. It was a very difficult decision, and kind of messy, but it was time for a fresh start. I was resenting making music, dreading it even. It was robotic and soulless as I tried and failed to write at least a hundred songs for one album. I was ready to give up on my career before the pandemic came. Chasing the next ‘White Noise’, the next viral moment, is no way to inspire creativity. Making my second album was difficult and resulted in only eight tracks. Releasing it during the pandemic was painful, and I was kind of relieved it went mostly unnoticed. 

Then Tommy came along, and eventually ‘Superglue’ did too. 

Tommy is a true music lover. By falling in love with him, I have fallen in love with music all over again.

Our love story begins with a borrowed guitar. Tommy was the first to answer when I reached out to friends asking for an acoustic guitar for a solo cabin writing trip (An effort to restore creativity in the midst of my divorce and second album). When I got back, Tommy offered to help me find my own. We found one and then stumbled into a sushi restaurant where we spent four hours talking about everything—childhood stories, embarrassing moments, and of course we talked a lot about music. After a few sakes at the bar next door, we walked off our buzz through the outdoor mall and into a Japanese photo booth, taking pictures that caught us giggling and making out. The mall was deserted, with the exception of a few midnight skater kids whizzing by. It felt fun and easy, and I had no idea we were going to fall madly in love. Looking back now, I should have known when Tommy asked if we could fall asleep to Seinfeld…my favorite show. Two weeks later we professed our love, a month later we were looking at houses to buy and planning out our future together. I hate saying it was a case of “when you know you know,” but it was. I mean, we’re in our mid-thirties, we’ve both been in long serious relationships, we both knew what we wanted. It was fast but I don’t think anyone questioned it. We just celebrated our second wedding anniversary and every day feels like magic. I’ve never known a love like this. 

We started the album just as pandemic lockdown began. Even though Tommy and I had known each other for years, we never had a session together. Our first day didn’t feel like a songwriting session at all, we were just passing the time, messing around. But it ended up producing ‘The Wash’, the first song we wrote together (track nine on ‘Superglue’). It was the only “productive” thing done between bubble bath sessions and smoking joints on the patio. From that moment on, I can’t think of a day where we weren’t playing or making music in some capacity. Life and music were completely intertwined, and instruments filled every room of our small house. Even when we road-tripped in our cute trailer, ‘Tammy’, we brought guitars and made demos. 

In our “pandemic studio,” we discovered new sounds and landscapes that set up the sound of ‘Superglue’. It was a 100-square foot room in the garage filled with an upright piano, a full drum kit, several guitars, synthesizers and a disco ball. It was physically and sonically overflowing. In our late-night jam sessions—dubbed ‘Disco Thursdays’—we’d find unique synth patches we hadn’t tried before and make stoney dance tracks. It was this element of play that helped me reconnect to what I love about music and why I started writing in the first place. Those days I call our “cocoon phase,” as we were incubating, preparing for the next chapter. 

Our new place in the mountains is where ‘Superglue’ truly bloomed. Being nature lovers, I can’t think of a more inspiring place to create every day. Even in our larger space, music overflows from the studio to the house. Currently, I’m writing this at the dining table, and Tommy is across from me, headphones on, hitting the noisy wooden keys of a new instrument he just got. I love it. 

This album is my best work yet. It’s not perfect, of course. I’m sure Pitchfork won’t review it, and that’s ok, because my goal with this album was to enjoy making it, and in that I have succeeded. It has documented such an important part of life—the transformation process. I’m not the same person I was when I began “Ella Vos”, the young mother with the viral song. With this album, I was able to express not just the healing I’ve experienced, but the sensual and sexual side of myself. I celebrate the power I have stepped into as a woman comfortable in her skin and in her body. Most of my life I felt ashamed, due to my evangelical Christian school upbringing. I felt so redeemed when I filmed my music video for ‘Glitter and Tears’ completely in the nude.

I could tell stories upon stories of every song on this album. Tommy and I cried, we laughed, we kissed, we argued, we both grew as artists as we made this album. But those stories will have to be shared another time!

‘SUPERGLUE’ is out now.

Photo Credit: Christina Chi Craig

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