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From Cobram to Paris and beyond with singer-songwriter Eliott

By Jessica Ball

A new single, two months musing in Paris and a timely homecoming; 2020 is shaping up to be a big one for Cobram's Charlotte Gemmill.

Performing under the name Eliott — an anagram of her nickname Lottie — the 24-year-old's new song Circles has hit the airwaves.

But it has been a long time coming.

It was more than two years ago that Ms Gemmill wrote the song in a converted chapel on an Adelaide writing trip with friends Xavier Dunn and Sam Phay and more than a year since it was recorded in Sydney with Chris Collins.

The singer-songwriter said now felt like the right time to release Circles.

“I've actually been playing it live for over two years,” she said.

“A lot of people knew about it already and a lot of people were waiting for it, so it's a nice feeling to finally have a recorded version of it out in the world.

“It was really hard to get it right because I've been playing it for so long live, it kind of needed to be perfect because people already had this emotional connection with it.”

The pointed lyrics were inspired by a less-than-perfect moment in time that left Ms Gemmill feeling hopeless and embarrassed.

“It was written about a time in my life where I was going out all the time and I was making stupid decisions and I wasn't really learning from them. I just wasn't motivated enough,” she said.

“It was the start of this cycle of making dumb choices and ultimately living in circles.

“I think playing it over the past two years, I've kind of watched myself grow and the song's kind of grown with me.”

Fast forward to the start of 2020 and Ms Gemmill was living in Paris as a part of a two-month artist-in-residence program with Cite internationale des arts.

“The whole idea is that you go and you're inspired by the cultural landscape of Paris,” she said.

“They give you the opportunity to live there and create something for yourself.

“It was a very lonely time but I could reflect on a lot of things and it was a really nice time away by myself.

“As much as it was a very lonely experience, I kind of grew up a little bit as well I think.”

With a piano in her room, Ms Gemmill made the most of her stay in the foreign city, writing 15 songs and shooting the film clip for Circles in a single take.

“We thought it would be nice to just walk around the streets of Paris,” she said.

“We had the idea to just do one big circle and end up kind of where I started from, which is super simple.”

At the end of the residency, Ms Gemmill returned to Australia just in time to avoid the unfolding coronavirus shutdowns.

“There was a window of a couple days and then the whole world just went a bit mad,” she said.

“I'm just glad I'm not stuck in Paris now, I couldn't imagine anything worse being in that room by myself during this time.”

While the global pandemic put a halt to her trip to up-and-comers festival South by South West in Texas and a three-week writing trip to Nashville, it has given Ms Gemmill time to focus on the release of Circles and creating new music.

Since its first spin on Triple J's Good Nights in April, Ms Gemmill said the reaction had been incredible.

“I'm actually pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing,” she said.

“it was kind of a song for me for so long, and now that other people are sharing their stories with me and telling me that they're connecting with it on a whole different level, it's just amazing to see people have just been really moved by it, it's pretty insane.”

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