Interview: The Elephant Trees – 17/6/17

The Elephant Trees are a band from Leeds consisting of Martha Phillips, Sam Hugh-Jones and Tom Palmer. The band blends a great acoustic sound with a slight alt rock edge. So far the band have released their debut single 90 Degrees which you can check out via our premiere here (http://www.musicology.uk.com/the-elephant-trees-exclusive-debut-single/).

We had a chat with Martha and Sam from the band about their upcoming single Monster which is due to be released on the 1st July. With the release show being held at The Key Club in Leeds where they will be joined by the amazing Northern Shore and Faux Pas and Swimming Girls.  

For the people who may not know, who are you?

Martha: We are four kiddos making some sick tunes.


Your new track Monster, what is it about and what is the inspiration behind it?
Martha: I actually wrote it when I was 14, there’s a line in it where I say “I’m only 14” and no one ever picks up on it. It’s nearly six years old now, so it’s about life as a 14 year old girl. Which I’m sure Sam can relate to on an emotional level
Sam: Yeah, probably more than you
It’s about dealing with your inner demons, the whole thing of “Am I a monster or am I a child?” is about coming to terms with the kind of person you’re going to be and whether you want to be that kind of person.
Sam: It’s just 14 year old angst. Musically I’m not sure what the inspiration was, the first 2 thirds of the song is more acoustic based but as it’s the follow up single to 90 Degress we wanted to make sure there was still that link with the high energy bit of it. So we wanted to make the ending as huge as we could be, that’s the fun bit live.


What’s your favourite cheese?
Sam: hmm, I don’t really eat cheese. I feel like I’m going to get insulted by the internet now. Can I say that I Like cheese cake?
Martha: It depends on the situation, if you get chips then obviously it’s going to be Mozzarella. If it’s on its own then it’s going to be caramelised onion. I LOVE CHEESE ON A NEXT LEVEL. In a meal setting, brie or camembert but melted and you dip other cheeses into it. You’re going to think it’s grim but until you try it you won’t understand.


Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?
Sam: Yes, I don’t know if you know but we’re releasing a single. We’re having a launch party at The Key Club on the 8th July. Northern Shore are opening it up, then our good friends Faux Pas and then Swimming Girls are coming up from Bristol.
Both: We’re super excited for this.

Launch Party


How did you come up with your name?
Martha: We all live about a 1 mile radius from my house. There is a set of trees you can see from my house that have always been a symbol of home. If we go on holiday we come home and we’re like “oh, we can see the elephant trees”. They’re not actually called elephant trees but my mum always called them that as they look like an elephant.
Sam: They don’t look like an elephant.
Martha: THEY DO! From one angle they do. So we were looking for a band name which encompass the whole family and home feeling of the band.

Who would win in a fight, a shark or a lion?
Sam: See the crux with this question is it depends on the situation, like if it was in the ocean the shark would win undoubtedly. Not least because cats don’t like water. But then on land, what’s a shark gonna do. What if it’s in space?
Martha: Then they’d both die.
Sam: Suspend disbelief for a minute.
Martha: That makes no sense whatsoever

What if the lion has a respirator?
Sam: True, I don’t think they can swim very well though. It wouldn’t be able to attack whilst swimming.
Martha: If they were both in their suitable environments somehow. I think a Lion would win.
Sam: It has claws and teeth a shark only has teeth.

Do you have a favourite venue to play at? And do you have a dream venue to play at?
Sam: I think we can all concur the 02 Academy Leeds was one of the best places we’ve played but we love Belgrave.
Martha: I love Belgrave.
Sam: Every time we’ve played there it’s been amazing.  Dream Venue, I don’t want to be cliché.
Martha: We haven’t played Cavern Club
Sam: More historic venues rather than big venues. I’d love to play Electric Ballroom in Brixton.
Martha: When we first started out, Milos was such a big deal. Milos is a 70 cap venue. It’s not always about venue. Guiseley music fest, every time.
Sam: Which is in the carpark of the Station Pub in Guisley.


What are Elephant Trees?
Sam: Actual Elephant Trees, are a type of tree.
Martha: Commonly found in Africa. But as a band, what are we?
Sam: A hot mess.
Martha:  An explosion of teenage angst and musically vomit.

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
Martha:  My mum is probably my biggest inspiration
Sam: You are a lot like her. It’s cute.
Martha: Musically I don’t know. I’ve always been notorious in the band for being the one with the least musical knowledge.
Sam: We just reference a band and she’s like “who?” Like “you don’t know The Beatles?”
Martha: I’m not that bad.
Sam: I think there’s a lot of singer songwriter stuff that comes from your end.
Martha: Life inspiration is definitely my mum. Just cos she’s so nice, I want to be nice.
Sam: I can confirm this. Martha’s mum is the band inspiration. OH NO, we have to mention the other mums now.
Martha: Our mums have a Whatsapp group chat. We have one and they have one too. They should start their own band. I love your mum though. All the mums are fab.

How did you become a band?
Sam: It started out as Martha’s school project and she had to form a band as a leadership project. We were the musicians within the vicinity.
Martha: Yeah, I just thought, they’ll do. Joking, I had selected each one. From a pool of three. There was supposed to be other members, but they dropped out. It was only supposed to last for 3-4 weeks. But then at the end of it I asked if they wanted to do more songs and here we are 2 years later.

What was your first ever live show? Namely the first band you ever saw?
Martha: Mine was Delirious, a band that aren’t really around anymore. A proper noughties, Christian band that my mum took me to. He stage dived and I was just like “YEAH, Rock ‘n’ Roll”
Sam: In contract, was Kiss. Unless you count my dad was in a band and I saw him a few times. But my first proper gig was Kiss.


What was your first ever live show you played, either as a band or personally?
Martha: They were both school ones. Like school Christmas concerts. The first band one was the Arts Award showcase.
Sam: It was 20 minutes, and the best 20 minutes of my life.
Martha: I felt like such a rockstar. I watched the video back last week and it was so bad. After we’d done it, it was amazing but looking back now it was terrible.
Sam: First time I ever played not in front of people who are related to me. I auditioned for Breeze has talent and then my first proper gig was with Rock School UK. Every time you went to that you got to play The Wardrobe at the end of it. Which was pretty cool. Big up Rock School UK.

Has there been any other bands on your radar you think people should check out?
Martha: Bang Bang Romeo, City of Lights
Sam: Conflare
Martha: My friend Holly has started this thing called Iora, its kind of electronic, sometimes it’s her, sometimes it’s a full band but it’s really clever.
Sam: Arcane Roots

Thank you for your time today. Good Luck with the single launch.


Check out the details for The Elephant Trees below





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I’m a photographer from Leeds (queue Yorkshire chant). I like Salad Cream on Bacon sandwiches and Sunday dinners and now you all hate me. I can be found in my local dive bar most days catching a local band or just sinking a few pints of cider.

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