My Inspiration: ERNIE – Pink Headaches | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Things seem to be going well for Newcastle singer-songwriter ERNIE lately, having signed to EMI/Gravity and recently getting announced as support for Sam Fender at his St James’ Park show on 9th/10th June. To top things off the solo artist (real name Joe Earnest Allan) drops Pink Headaches, a poppy, melody-rich indie single filled with a sense of childlike wonder and quiet contemplation that reminisces about revisiting a place where you grew up. The track was produced by Josh Ingledew (Sam Fender), and mixed by Grammy-nominated producer Catherine Marks (Foals, The Killers, Wolf Alice).

Here, Joe tells us more about what inspired the single…

The ‘ERNIE’ project started in 2021 when, after finding a new lease of life creatively during the covid lockdown, I sent a huge batch of my home demos to Josh Ingledew (Blank Studios) with the intention of turning these half-baked ideas into something solid. 

My biggest inspiration by far for the entire project was Ben Howard’s 2021 record ‘Collections From The Whiteout’. When I heard that I immediately fell in love with everything about it; the lyrics, the instrumentation, the production, and the kind of freeform collaborative feel to it. I loved that all of the songs were sketchy and colourful, some of them were long and weighty and others were super short and ephemeral. It’s clear that, with this album, experimenting and taking risks creatively and having fun took priority over making a big statement or something. That changed my outlook on my own creative output, it made me stop treating my songs like precious metals and just enjoy the process and have fun with it and in turn, I’ve ended up with the best batch of material I’ve ever written.

The song ‘Pink Headaches’ was inspired, lyrically, by a visit back to my hometown as a visitor and the complex mixture of feelings that came in tow. I’d moved back in with my mam for a few months, and I was out on a run one day to shake off a hangover. I was literally running through the scenes of my childhood, recalling this huge batch of memories attached to every street, every park bench, every football pitch. Places that once felt like home to me now filled me with a weird mix of nostalgia, fondness, sadness, and anxiety. ‘Pink Headaches’ was my response to all of these weird feelings and memories coming to the surface with every passing lamp post. Sonically, again, that Ben Howard record was a huge influence; the glitchy drum loops and synths that I love on that album were a big source of inspiration when it came to tracking Pink Headaches. I was also inspired massively by Adrienne Lenker (Big Thief) and her album ‘songs’. Recorded in a cabin in the woods, it’s so raw and intimate and I think recording in that environment informed some of those beautiful vulnerable vocal takes on there. We recorded the bulk of this tune in Josh’s spare bedroom and some of those quieter, personal moments I think are what makes the song special. 

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