gglum, the moniker of London-born songwriter Ella Smoker, releases “SPLAT!,” her first single for Secretly Canadian. The charming and immediately memorable song arrives with a video directed by Finnegan Travers.
“‘SPLAT!’ was just me splurging a bunch of feelings I had around a complicated relationship, where it feels like nothing really happens and no one makes a move but you’re constantly thinking about it,” Smoker explains. “I wanted to capture the emotional chaos of teenage desire and the intensity of your feelings when you’re still learning how relationships work. The song really expresses all the ways I felt but in a very disordered way bouncing between raw feelings, rationalisation and angry outbursts.”
t 21 years of age, Ella Smoker has gotten pretty good at decoding her dreams. Raised on everything from rockabilly and soul to MTV-era emo, she was drawn to music that offered a sense of safety, a feeling of being held within the layers of detailed instrumentation. But when she tried to write herself, she wasn’t quite sure how to conjure this sense of comfort, to make music that could adequately deal with the issues bothering her subconscious at night.
“At the time I was 17, going out all the time, bunking school, feeling really rubbish about myself,” she says. “I think that’s what helped with writing a song I liked for the first time — I just started being honest. It was basically just me pouring my misery into a song, and that’s why I called myself gglum. At the time, I was just being all angsty teenager.”
That early expression of truth turned into 2020’s viral pandemic-era hit “Why Don’t I Care”, from one of her formative EPs, beginning the journey that would lead gglum to Secretly Canadian. Inspired by the likes of Alex G, Phil Elverum and Adrianne Lenker, gglum’s music positions Smoker as an artist who can wield atmospheric disturbance at her fingertips, crafting soundscapes that allow her to reconcile with a tumultuous coming-of-age. With flickers of electronica, dream pop and discordant garage-punk, her acoustic guitar becomes a sturdy ally, the base of a versatile, lo-fi sound that manages to feel simultaneously escapist and immersive.
“I feel like I naturally gravitate towards wanting to make musical spaces that you can feel like you’re living in, rather than trying to make songs,” she says. “That’s something I really wanted to solidify: I basically want to make music that feels like when you’re like looking out the window and it’s the end of the film and you’re imagining what comes next.” At a time when listeners crave lyrical resonance and sincerity more than ever before, Smoker’s main character is about to attract a serious degree of energy — and a few more dreams to unlock.
Photo Courtesy: Finnegan Travers