On this special show, Elton introduces us to three new artists that he’s loving right now: Yola, The Weather Station and Jake Wesley Rogers. He talks to up-and-coming British singer-songwriter Yola about returning to the live arena, Toronto-native Tamara Lindeman about her album as The Weather Station being one his favorite releases of the year, and Nashville-based Jake Wesley Rogers about his love of song-writing – and their shared love of platform shoes!
Elton John on The Weather Station’s new album ‘Ignorance’
It’s not one of my favourite albums of the year. It’s one of my favourite albums for a long, long time. And it just goes on repeat and repeat and repeat. So it’s a brilliant, brilliant record.
The Weather Station’s Tamara Lindeman on making the album
Tamara Lindeman: It came out of so many things. I mean, one of the biggest things was writing songs strangely on like a toy keyboard with auto accompaniment. So I wrote songs with like children’s beats, basically. And that really informed my process and pushed me into writing a different kind of song than I ever had. And then emotionally, the record really came out of this stew of emotions and feelings and confusions of how to be a person in this really strange time in history with so much darkness around us. And I felt like all of my songs were like two waves meeting and kind of crashing together in strange ways.
Elton John: I agree with you. We are living in the strangest of times. I mean, being a musician, not being able to play live, what’s going on to the planet, what’s going on politically, what’s going on just in general with media. And it’s a troubling time, and I totally agree with you. The songs just blend into each other so brilliantly. A lot of it reminds me of Fleetwood Mac for some reason.
Tamara on “Robber”
This song is really complicated to me. It started as this weird drone on a keyboard and I was playing these odd chords over top. Strangely, I was thinking about ExxonMobil and like the way that they lied to us. It’s very personal for me because I was born in the 80’s and that’s when a lot of this stuff happened. And so I just was thinking so much about like, how do we define a wrongdoer? Why can’t we see that people who wear suits kind of take more than people of colour, who too often are the person arrested and sort of seen as a scapegoat? So there was a lot in there and it’s a bit of a mess, but it struck a nerve for sure.
Elton John on Yola’s new album ’Standing for Myself’
Elton John: We’ve played three tracks from your new album, which is called ‘Standing for Myself.’ It’s coming out in July, the 30th. It’s produced by Dan Auerbach, who’s one of my favourite producers and, of course, he’s from the Black Keys. And I think you met him in 2017, didn’t you, in Nashville?
Yola: Well, I spoke to him on the phone in 2017, but I didn’t meet him until the first writing session. So it was like-
Elton John: No, really?
Yola: Yes, it’s a lot.
Elton John: It’s a match made in heaven because he’s such a great producer. And now you’re living in Nashville?
Yola: Yeah. I’ve made the move. Yes I have.
Elton on Yola’s energy
Elton John: You’re obviously having fun [in Nashville] and it’s good for you because the music that’s coming out of your soul is so beautiful. Now it would be correct to say that you have a lot of energy, right? You have… It just comes across. I haven’t met you, but even in your music and when I see you being interviewed, you have so much positive energy coming out of you, which is so great in a world that we live in right now which is full of negative stuff. You come across as a beacon of hope.
Yola: Oh get out! Oh my gosh! That just means a lot, especially coming from you. But also, it just does mean a lot. I try everything I can do to put good energy in the world, but simultaneously not being vacuous or vapid with it, because I think that’s very easy to do. It’d be like, I’m positive energy and that means that I’m not about anything. And so, yeah. I’m glad that that’s coming across.
Elton and Yola on getting ready to perform live again
Yola: We’ve been in Telluride, of all places, in Colorado, up in the mountains, and we’re just getting warmed in. And because obviously it’s been a long time since we played shows. And so we’ve dotted a few things around, get warmed in before the Newports, plural, and the Red Rocks’ and all these things that are coming up.
Elton John: I know how you feel because last Saturday I had to do a charity show on my own, just me and the piano. I hadn’t sung for over a year. In the afternoon, I was sitting at my piano at home, which I never play, and I was rehearsing songs. I think even though I played these songs thousands of times, if I go there tonight and I **** this up, I will look so stupid. So I was quiet, we had houseguests, and I was trying to be as quiet as a mouse and I was trying to rehearse stuff. I’m thinking, “God, if they could hear me now,” I’m thinking, “How many times has he sung that? Why is he rehearsing?” If you haven’t done it for a long time, you got to do it right?
Yola on playing Sister Rosetta Tharpe in the upcoming Baz Luhrmann film about Elvis Presley
Elton John: I just want to mention something else, you’re in the new upcoming Baz Luhrmann film about Elvis Presley and you play Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Now that’s big shoes to fill, baby.
Yola: Yeah, no pressure. Only the person that invented rock and roll; no pressure at all. And also, I’m a rhythm guitar player. I’m not a lead guitar player. And I had to learn to play lead because obviously, she’s one of the greatest guitar players. And so I spent a year and a bit learning a couple of solos for the movie. And I am grateful for the extra time that I had. I was supposed to go after three months of learning this solo. I was like, “Yeah, I’m not going to learn that.” But I had all of this time, and then I was doing these solos for 15-hour shoots. And so I was landing them, having never done a single solo in my life.
Elton John: Well, bravo for that. And I love Baz, he’s a friend of ours and I’m sure the movie is going to be fantastic.
Elton John on Jake Wesley Rogers reminding him of himself in the 70’s
Elton John: I have to say I’m so excited to see you in person. I got turned onto your music by Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters who said, “You’ve got to hear In the ‘Middle of Love’.” So I watched the video and it was so funny, it made me laugh because you look like an elongated version of me in the 1970s with the shoes, the outfit, the glasses, and everything.
Jake Wesley Rogers: Just stretched out.
Elton John: Yeah, baby. Because I’m not that tall, but you are. How tall are you?
Jake Wesley Rogers: I’m 6’4″, so when I wear my platforms, I’m like a gay monster.
Elton John: Yeah. I used to wear eight inch platforms back in the day and I was six foot four then, but I’m actually only five foot eight. It’s a great feeling to be towering above everybody else, right?
Jake Wesley Rogers: It really is, yeah. I feel very powerful.
Elton on Jake’s personality and “carrying the torch for having fun”
You must be excited to actually play this stuff live because it’s just… What I love as a songwriter is that the songs are so beautifully formed. And for someone so new, I find that really, really, really encouraging that someone is carrying on and having the personality that you do have, and the look and everything like that. It means so much to me that someone is having fun.
Because we live in a world where there’s not much fun going on. It’s a bit dour out there, but you seem to be carrying the torch for having fun. Like Jake Shears who’s been my friend ever since I met him. I know you’ve been round to his house and had a sing song and everything like that. I’d love to do that too. I can’t wait to meet you because I think we have so much in common.
Jake Wesley Rogers on writing “Momentary”
I started writing this project in London, actually in 2019 and I went on an Oscar Wilde walking tour and I kind of had one of those moments where the tour guide said, “If there’s an enemy in Oscar Wilde’s story, it was his lover Bosie” and I kind of had one of those lightning strike moments where I realized that for so long, for so many of us, love has been the enemy. Love has been the thing that has crucified us or sent us to jail or murdered us. I kind of wrote “Momentary” after that as a response of someone who’s living in 2021 who’s allowed to be out and proud when so many people before me were not allowed. That burden gift of being able to grow up and be out. That’s what that song is about for me.
Jake Wesley Rogers on coming out
Jake Wesley Rogers: I kind of came out when I was 12 and then again when I was 16.
Elton John: I imagine 16 was like an Exocet missile. You just said “I’ve got to go for it,” right?
Jake Wesley Rogers: Oh yeah. I was like, “Mom and Dad, I’m gay and I’m dating the preacher’s son.”
Elton John: How were they? How were your parents?
Jake Wesley Rogers: Oh, they’re everything. They’re wonderful. They’ve been so supportive. I do not take that for granted at all, especially being from the Bible Belt, being from Missouri, I’m grateful for it every day.
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