Ella Jane is your typical Taylor Swift–loving, city–dwelling, anxiety–ridden 20–year–old. She loves to write and sing, mindlessly scroll through her TikTok feed, and make Spotify playlists catering to her moods. But, Ella has a unique second life; she's a rising popstar, with one EP released, an album on the way, and a headlining tour starting next month. 

Ella’s sophomore album, Marginalia, will be released on Oct. 28. In her tour announcement, Ella describes the record as “9 songs [that] have become living, breathing parts of me over the past year–and–a–half writing them.” Ella has released two singles from the album, “Party Trick” and “How Do I Lose You.” 

Ella and I meet with a screen between us from each other’s childhood homes. She sits in her kitchen in Westchester, N.Y., sipping tea from a mug with an upside–down photo of her dog on it, the result of a manufacturing mishap.

A New York native, Ella recently relocated to Los Angeles following a year of living in Brooklyn. After playing a quick game of Jewish geography, I learn about her brief experience as a college student, her evolution as a musician, and all the ways she fosters relationships through music—sharing the most intimate details through her songs. 

Growing up in a family of musicians, Ella always loved to sing, play piano, and write. In fact, becoming a writer was her first aspiration. In middle school, she realized songwriting was the perfect way to combine her interests. “When I was younger, I never thought about where music came from,” says Ella. “When I realized I could write and make music at the same time, I thought, ‘Oh my god, why is nobody else doing this?’” 

Of the musicians that inspired Ella as a kid, a couple stand out. “Adele, Amy Winehouse, Ingrid Michaelson, and Regina Spektor were the first artists who helped me realize I could have a music taste of my own,” she says. 

Ella soon came to understand that singer–songwriters were the ones making most of the music she loved. She carried her newfound passion into high school, continuing to write and produce music from the comfort of her bedroom. 

Songwriting helped cure the claustrophobia of her small town and even smaller school. When it was time to create her high school AP Lit final project, Ella chose to write a song based off of a line from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby’s line “I’d wreck my house a hundred times just to see you walk into a room” resonated with Ella for its depiction of pining over a love interest. It builds the prechorus of “nothing else i could do,” the song that changed her life to the tune of over 20 million streams on Spotify. 

When Ella began releasing singles, she turned to TikTok to promote her music. “When I joined [TikTok], it had barely been around for a year, and at that point, it was still kind of connected to Musical.ly,” says Ella. “Everyone was rolling their eyes at it … I was even rolling my eyes at it.” 

Ella was a senior in high school when the world first went into lockdown, allowing her to focus more on producing and sharing her music. “Being out of school really allowed me to remove the element of embarrassment that I would have felt had I been posting [on TikTok] and going to school the next day.” 

In a time of loneliness and uncertainty, Ella found solace in sharing her music and receiving feedback from her expanding fanbase and fellow artists. “I felt a really nice sense of community with other musicians who were close in age to me and in the same spot musically,” says Ella. 

In the fall of 2020, Ella began attending college at Tufts University. During her brief time there, she was never able to grasp the college experience. “The closest we ever got to a party was during the beginning of my first semester, everyone would congregate on the roof of the library,” Ella says. “Then, every 20 minutes or so, the campus police would come, and then everyone would scatter, and 20 minutes later, we’d come back.” 

Ella was lonely in college. She spent much of her time in her single dorm room making music. “I was next door to the RA, and we technically weren’t allowed to sing,” she says. Luckily, her RA didn’t enforce this rule. 

Ella wasn’t given any performance opportunities at Tufts, and the only time she shared her music was accidentally. She didn’t realize how thin the dorm walls were until her hallmates told her they could hear her singing at all hours of the day. 

After leaving Tufts, she relocated to Brooklyn to pursue music full time, excited to live and work in a more exciting and diverse environment than Westchester. And as for college, “I think there was a level of comfort [at Tufts] that I’ve done good to be without.”

Living alone in Brooklyn hasn’t been a completely perfect experience. Ella struggled to adjust to an industry filled with people older than her. “It’s kind of forced me to be someone who’s super confident and has no problem sharing really intimate details of their life,” says Ella. “I go to songwriting sessions with 30–year–old men I’ve never met before.” 

Ella’s lyrics are the most crucial and unique aspect of her music. Her favorite lines she’s written are in “The City,” a song originally released as a single and later rereleased in her debut EP, THIS IS NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE! “I’m such a sucker for any song that revolves around one metaphor,” says Ella. “Obviously, I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan, and that was something I learned from her music.” She points to this lyric from “The City” as an example: “Your shadow stained the carpet / So I got hardwood floors.”

“The truth is, when I come up with my best lyrics, I kind of black out,” says Ella. “I just zone out and start writing to it out of my system.”

At this moment, the doorbell rings, and we move into an even more personal part of Ella’s world: her childhood bedroom. It’s a time capsule of Ella’s younger years, lavender walls plastered with posters of her favorite artists. 

When I compliment her Melodrama poster, Ella begins to rave about her “Holy Trinity” of musicians: Lorde, Phoebe Bridgers, and Taylor Swift. “Every time I write now, I subconsciously end up going back to the pillars of their songwriting that I’ve picked out for myself,” says Ella. 

She admires these three artists—their artful lyricism and ability to tell stories through music. In her career, Ella hopes to do the same. “I’m a deeply insecure person,” says Ella, “so everything I write about has to do with that, but I’m embracing the insecurities a little bit more.”

In addition to her album release, Ella will begin her Marginalia tour in Boston on Oct. 24. She’s only played a few shows as the headlining act. “The first I played was in New York at a small venue called Baby’s All Right and that was around my 20th birthday. And it was really, really heartwarming,” she says, “also overwhelming because I’d only ever played at cafes for people who didn't give a fuck about me. It’s really a lucky and unique feeling to be able to be in a room full of people who understand why those songs are special to you.”

As Ella embarks on her tour, she’ll hold on to the words, feelings, and experiences that brought her to this point: her family’s piano in Westchester, the classic novel that sparked her creativity, and the artists old and new that have inspired her. And finally, Ella Jane is starting to learn how to be inspired by herself.

Ella Jane is performing at The Foundry on Oct. 28, 2022, at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.