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Kate Ellis: The story behind my song The Story You’ve Been Told

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Kate Ellis

And when you feel you’re breaking

It’s just your past unmaking You’re perfect, you are whole

I don’t know what you’ve been told

Our minds are expert at creating negative stories about ourselves. Even those closest to us can innocently contribute to them. Our belief in these stories shapes the perception we have of ourselves and our lives and seems to be the number one way we cause ourselves pain. This idea is at the heart of The Story You’ve Been Told.

As an introvert, I’ve always tended to spend a lot of time wandering around inside my own head, and that’s not always a great recipe for peace. I’ve finally come to the realisation that it doesn’t really matter what our thoughts are about – it just matters how much attention we pay to them and how much time we spend in our mind, as opposed to the real world.

So this song really came from realising that a lifetime of introspection and self-analysis had led me down the wrong path. Writing it helped me to crystalise the insight that we all have patterns of thought and narratives we tell ourselves are true, that ain’t necessarily so. We carry around these stories about who we are, where we come from, what happened to us and what it means. For many people, like myself, this creates a false system of beliefs about ourselves, our values and our lives that’s not based on reality.

Ultimately, the song is a story of finding your way out of these thoughts that can possess you and memories and feelings that can trap you by seeing that the stories aren’t true and can be discarded. Once we stop seeing our lives through a distorted prism, we are fine.

My music comes from a deep emotional and very personal source so it tends to be more influenced by my inner world than the outside world. The process of writing is really me trying to bring to life a truth or feeling that grips me or inspires me through song. It’s a way to be totally connected to the deepest part of myself and process my feelings to find more balance.

The Story You’ve Been Told, which was written in collaboration with my musical partner Andy Hobsbawm, is the closing track on my new album Spirals and many of the songs here came from my attempt to find balance through a new understanding of how to cope with the demons and dramas that can take over our minds.

We create habits of thinking early in our lives, and in the last few years, I have become more aware of how much these thoughts shape and control us. I am still trying to break these habits by just seeing thought for what it is, not confusing it with reality. Songs such as The Story You’ve Been Told and the title track touch on this journey I have been through and continue on today.

The overall theme of the record is how we can go around in circles inside our heads and become lost in the maze of obstacles and pain we encounter in life – but most importantly, how we can break free of these spirals to reach a more peaceful place on the other side.

I don’t know what you can see

Everything you are looks beautiful to me

I see your heart, I see your soul

And that’s all I need to know

Don’t let it weigh you down

There’s nothing to be found

In the story you’ve been told


Kate Ellis is an Americana/folk singer-songwriter. She was born In Louisiana and raised In New York but is now based In London. Kate’s southern country-folk roots come from her father who was an important early musical influence – as a young man he played guitar with Hank Williams on the famous Louisiana Hayride, where Elvis and Johnny Cash started out. Kate uses melancholy Americana and folk to conduct fearless soul-searching. Her emotional and seductive vocals take you into a world of private beauty, reflection and feelings. The music is intimate and evocative – you listen and want to be there. The Observer described hauntingly beautiful songs, while No Depression reviewed her debut Carve Me Out as ‘an album of great warmth and feeling that just makes you press repeat’. Americana UK gave her sophomore album Spirals 9/10, calling it ‘an irrefutable, unquestionable joy’.


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