Squirrel Flower – in session for John Kennedy – Radio X – August 28, 2021 – Radio X –
End up the week with another isolation session. This time it’s American Indie-Folk artist Squirrel Flower (aka: Ella Williams) in session for John Kennedy at Radio X on August 28, 2021.
Squirrel Flower is the stage name of American musician Ella Williams.
According to Rolling Stone who have proclaimed Williams an “Artist You Need To Know”:
Williams grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts, a town 20 minutes from Boston, in a family whose musical roots run deep. Her late grandfather co-founded New York Pro Musica, a medieval ensemble whose recordings soothed Williams to sleep as a child. “A big part of my early experience with music was hearing those recordings and being so calmed by them,” she says.
After her grandfather met her grandmother — a classical singer in her own right — they moved to Gate Hill Co-Op in Nyack, New York. The co-op was an offshoot of the experimental Black Mountain College, where several noted German artists fled after the Nazis shut down the Bauhaus in 1933, and that openness to the avant-garde permeated Williams’ early life. Her father, Jesse, was raised at the co-op, and she frequently visited with her parents, attending family reunions, picnics, and jam sessions.
Soon a young Williams was singing in choirs at age eight and writing her own songs on guitar at 14, taking inspiration from acts like Joni Mitchell (“a fucking legend”). “I wasn’t a very structured kid,” she says. “I never went to camp. I just hung around and lived in my head. And I think that allowed me to be a creative person.”
Needing a change from the East Coast, Williams attended Grinnell College, a small liberal-arts school in Iowa. In a town of 9,000 people, she immediately fell into the music scene, picking up her first electric guitar and combining it with her powerhouse vocals. Soon, she was opening for her indie heroes, Big Thief, Jay Som, and Moses Sumney. “There was this really vibrant arts and music community,” she says. “Being somewhere so small with people that are kind and supportive of each other, it allows you to grow more.”
It was during this time that Williams began performing under the name Squirrel Flower, which she’d first come up with as a child. “People were like, ‘Who is this hippie chick?’ ” she says. “It was this weird alter ego, and it felt right to return to that.”
Williams’ opening gigs led to a record contract with Polyvinyl in July 2019. She ended up signing the deal in Grinnell’s library, “where I used to write essays for days,” she adds with a laugh. During the fall semester of her senior year, she flew to New York to record I Was Born Swimming over five days at the Rare Book Room studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Her father came in from Boston to play bass. “We didn’t have that much time to catch up with words,” she says. “But we were communicating the whole time by playing together.”
In case you aren’t familiar; here’s a sample. And while you’re at it, head over to her website and grab her new album, Planet (i).
Enjoy and gear up for the holiday weekend.
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