Musician Profile: Ellen Hoffman ’14

(Yours truly on the guitar with a broken string)

A good friend and former band mate, Ellen Hoffman often tries to avoid the limelight, even when it chases her. She began playing music at a young age, dabbling in a variety of instruments. “I played saxophone in 4th grade, Oboe in 5th, and started guitar in 8th grade,” she said. She took up the piano when she got to Berklee and has always sung. 

Musician Profile: Ellen Hoffman ‘14

Singer/Pianist/Guitarist/Songwriter

Hometown: Bethesda, MD

Associated Acts: Motown, Fat Gladys, Giant Squid (defunct)

First interest in pursuing music came to Ellen one summer while she attended a guitar performance program at Berklee: “I thought, huh, maybe I want to do this in college.” She began looking into music schools during her junior year of high school and eventually ended up at the same school that had first spurned her interest. Ellen’s time at Berklee would prove to be fleeting and she eventually ended up at Kenyon, bringing to campus a much appreciated, fresh perspective on music.

“Berklee was a pre-professional school and I wanted a well rounded education,” she said, “I wanted to try different things as an artist. I didn’t know what part of the industry I wanted to be a part of and at Berklee you have to promote yourself right off the bat.”

Ellen describes her songwriting process as fluid. “Lyrics and melody often come at the same time,” she said. She notes her thematic palate is interesting, as she is not so much drawn to what she knows but rather what she doesn’t. She prefers to explore her curiosities. The first song Ellen wrote was called “Mama” about a mom leaving her daughter in the night. “My mom felt really guilty about this. It was really heavy,” she said. Ellen has requested that I also expressly note that this song is in no way about her mother. Ellen loves her mom.

Ellen’s favorite of her songs is her newest piece. It’s untitled, but in writing it Ellen had an interesting experience: “I really didn’t understand how I felt about it, but I just kept playing the chords over and over again. I started singing and I just knew what I wanted to write about.”

Ellen draws inspiration from a variety of acts she sees today. She recalls seeing TV on the Radio in New York as the best concert she ever attended and her current favorite album is Solange Knowles’ Sol-Angel Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams. “I hear new things with each listen,” she said. “It’s a new approach to motown, which I’m naturally drawn to.” Her favorite track is “Would’ve Been The One.”

Look for Ellen’s new music either with Fat Gladys (Kenyon’s all-female funk band), Motown, or her solo work.

When asked if Kenyon had given her any ideas as to what she wanted to do musically she replied, “No, but I know what I don’t want to do. I think that’s a step in the right direction. I know I don’t want to do interviews, so being famous is out of the question.”

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