Drew Ellis (Drell) is a junior at UNC and music producer on the side. The Daily Tar Heel spoke with him about his musical career. He has over 32,000 streams on his top song, “Beautiful Things Await You," on Spotify.
The Daily Tar Heel: Can you tell me a little bit about your musical career growing up? What brought you to this point?
Drew Ellis (Drell): When I was a kid, it was guitar. I was never really sold on it. It was more like my parents pressuring me. I still enjoyed it, but I wasn’t passionate about it, which I think is really important, especially when you’re creating art. You have to passionate about it, or else why are you doing it?
So this whole musical journey really started when I got DJ equipment in high school. It was totally separate from producing, but I would spend hours in my bedroom mixing songs and making mixes on SoundCloud. Then I got to a point where I was good at DJing but I wanted to make music, and that’s when I kind of transitioned to more of being a producer.
DTH: Have you done any performing locally or is it mainly production?
Drell: Just this past late-January I actually performed my first show in Wilmington. I got all my friends to come out, stay at an Airbnb, and then I played a 75-minute set at a club. Played some of my own music, some unreleased songs and, of course, some crowd-pleasing music. It was a ton of fun. What was so amazing about it was I got like 20 of my friends, I didn’t think they would really come and they all showed up and it was special because they were all supporting me. I was just a kid in my bedroom in high school dreaming of having this moment, and four years later it finally happened.
DTH: How did putting this in a live setting make you feel about future endeavors with your career?
Drell: Honestly, I’m hungry for more. I was super nervous to go up there and perform, but once I did it, I was instantly in the zone. It’s hard to explain, but when you play a song and can see everyone’s energy is matching that level and your energy is matching that level, it’s addicting. I guess my focus for 2020 is to play more shows; to drive my music and reach more listeners through shows. At this point, I’m definitely still making the music I want to make and wherever it takes me, it takes me. I never thought I’d have a show in some town I don’t even live in, ever.
Yeah, it would be awesome to play at music festivals, but that’s not what motivates me. What motivates me is getting people to hear what I made — I hope they like it.