Growing up in a quiet part of north London in the 90’s, Daughter (Elena Tonra) spent her days listening to her parent’s vinyl collections and older brother’s rock CDs. She later discovered the beauty of acoustic and folk inspired music and started to create stories and poems which formed the skeletons of her songs.
Wearing clothes that old people may well have died in, and a bowl-cut the Beatles would be proud of, Daughter tells tales of ghosts, drowning lovers and setting fire to her insides for fun. Daughter’s haunting voice and delicate guitar playing make her live performances spell-binding and often difficult to breathe. She talks about unrequited love, lost hope and death… in the prettiest way imaginable. Elena talked with Amy about music so beautiful it makes me weep with joy.
TDOA: I can’t even begin to put you in the same category with other singers, vocally. Who do you think you sound like?
ET: I have no idea. I think it’s difficult to answer this question myself. When I hear myself all I can hear is “oh that note was a bit flat” or “that sounds a bit croaky” … you’re asking a very self-critical individual I’m afraid. Though my mum says I sound like Marilyn Monroe. Hahaha.
TDOA: I absolutely love the simplicity of your sound – why do you think it is that way?
ET: I think its hard to be musically complicated when it’s just me with a guitar. I’ve always been influenced by songs where the singer is exposed. I suppose for the music I’ve made so far I’ve never needed anything complicated. But now is definitely the time for me to start experimenting with a bigger sound.
TDOA: I love the finger-picking. Is this just how you learned, or does it add a specific feel?
ET: Strangely enough when I taught myself guitar, finger-picking was the easiest thing for me to get my head around.
TDOA: Can you tell me a bit about this ‘Demo EP’ that you’re offering free on your Myspace? A lot of musicians have had success with releasing music for free, but it’s a bit scary to not get paid for your art. What do you perceive to be the value in doing it?
ET: Oh I’m very used to not getting paid for my art. Starting out as a musician in London is not a great earner. With the E.P I just wanted to throw it out and see if anyone listened to it. They are all rough versions of my songs. I didn’t want anyone to have to pay to listen to them. That way if anyone hates it they aren’t out of pocket and if anyone loves it… well that’s a money-can’t-buy achievement.
TDOA: I really loved listening to songs that I could find from the Communion compilation. Who are some of your favorite Brit folk acts?
ET: I’m not sure what counts as “Brit folk”… I don’t know. Oh these genres confuse me so!! But two of my favourite acts at the moment are George Frakes and Andrew Davie. To be honest I think every song on the Communion Compilation was beautiful. Pick any of the artists on there and I don’t think you can go wrong.
TDOA: What do you think the music industry is like for women today? The folk scene?
ET: I think it’s good. I don’t think it’s been unkind to women. I think people harp on about having to prove themselves because they are females trying to ‘make it’. If you’re good at what you do, people will listen to you. If you’re rubbish and whine all the time… no one will care.
TDOA: Who is Peter? This is my favorite song I’ve heard thus far. He’s a lucky shmuck (even if a jerk) to have such an incredible song written about him.
ET: He is Peter Pan. I am Wendy.
TDOA: Why do you write? I know that seems like a really generic question, but I really am interested in the answer.
ET: I’m not sure why. Its like therapy I think. I’m a very emotional person so I need to let that out through writing. Otherwise I’d be crying all the time! I usually write when I’m drunk. It’s when you’re most free, you don’t have the restrictions of a sober mind therefore you become more open, creative and imaginative. Only nuisance is trying to work out what the bloody hell you’ve written the next day…
TDOA: What’s next for you? Is there a full-length in the works?
To learn more about Daughter, visit her Facebook page!
ET: Definitely a full-length in the pipe-line. At the moment i’m working with Igor and we’re going to release another E.P with his beautiful brain involved. I have no idea what it’s going to sound like yet, but that is what’s most exciting.
See her live!
FEB 10 Borderline London
FEB 13 Hoxton Bar And Kitchen London
FEB 17 The Bedford Balham
FEB 23 Windmill Brixton
FEB 24 St Stephen Church London
MAR 3 Garage Highbury London