There’s no doubting Ellie Goulding is onto a winner with new album Halcyon. It’s dark, electro, mysterious and fascinating. And the lady herself isn’t your average pop puppet either.
She jumps from subject to subject and keeps you enthralled with her conversation and you get a feeling a night out with her would be a lot of fun.
Here’s our conversation as it happened.
Hello Ellie, Halcyon is fabulously dark. Did you mean for it to come out this way when you began work on it?
It is darker than the last. It wasn’t intentional but I think I was in a different head space from the first. I wrote Lights such a long time ago too.
Lights did go on and on and on…
It did. Ha. By the time I released bright Lights I started thinking that I wanted to move on. And then America happened and things became tricky. Because it meant I was going out there again and new music was delayed.
It came out of the blue didn’t it?
It sure did. I wasn’t expecting a US rebirth. I was actually writing Halcyon out in the middle of nowhere in the Valleys and then…BTW – have you seen The Valleys on MTV. It’s just amazing. You will love it. It’s a Welsh version of Geordie Shore. It’s unbelievable. It’s writing gold.
Yes, sorry. I was writing Halcyon and then I was getting emails saying Lights was taking off on US radio stations. Then it became massive and huge and I couldn’t believe it. Then I was back off to America.
You did a stint early on with Lights in the US anyway?
Yes, I performed on Saturday Night Live and loads of shows. But I ended up going to the States and doing it all again. I was supporting Katy Perry on the first time – literally nobody knew who I was. It was a lot more under the radar events. The second time I was a little more well known. But I’m a grafter and never envisaged myself being a singer who was going to release a huge single and then know that I was huge. I write everything, produce everything too so that’s a lot to take on.
Are you a control freak?
I don’t know what that means. I genuinely don’t. It’s a weird phrase. Some things I have to pass to other people. I’m lucky having a great amazing, clever and responsible team around me. I never wanted to just have ‘yes people’ working for me. It’s good to have positive people but I want honesty before anything else. Anything to do with music or anything that surrounds my music is all down to me.
Is this an Adele 21 situation with a lot of tracks about your break up from Radio One DJ Greg James?
To be honest it was very coincidental that I was writing my record and something was missing for a while. I had writer’s block and went away to Ireland and had two weeks just by myself. Totally by myself and it forced me to think. I did that to try and target what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t write. I was really down in the dumps and so much had happened to me. I’d been all around the world and my brain hadn’t really caught up at all. I started to get withdrawal symptoms and didn’t know how to cope. I needed to go away to save my sanity.
Are you still mates with Greg?
Yes, we really are. And I played him a lot of the stuff and made sure he knew what was what. Not every song is about Greg. But they were prompted and inspired by that time. I can be a really happy bubbly person but then write a very sad song. I guess that’s the kind of writer I am – I’m the queen of sad songs. I guess that time in my life and my mood was just poured into my work. It wasn’t a very nice time at all.
Usually a break up means good work!
Well, I actually think I needed a distraction from my personal life and just threw myself into work. I had to become a control freak in a sense because otherwise I would lose it.
You are now dating dubstep DJ Skrillex (real name Sonny Moore) – how’s that going? Do you ever see him with your busy schedules?
I’m seeing him on Tuesday for the first time in about a month and a half. It’s pretty insane. I never have a second to think about love life. I’ve been so busy. I’m looking forward to seeing him. He’s as busy as I am. So maybe it’s a good thing. We’re really really good friends so that helps. That helps the long distance thing.
Has Skrillex introduced you to a lot of different music?
He has. But I’ve also introduced him to a lot of music too. It’s been a mutual learning experience. I’ve always been very intellectual with music. People may have thought I started that I was all about folk music but I always knew it was going to have an electronic edge. I have such an affinity with electro because my mum used to record Judge Jules and Pete Tong on the radio and we’d listen to it together.
That’s a very cool mum…
Yes she is. My uncle and my mum were proper ravers. So my mum and dad used to be punks back in the day and it’s involved into some sort of rave thing. Mum introduced my to Bjork, Future Sound of London and Prodigy.
I would have thought you’d love Carole King and The Carpenters too.
I had to discover Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac and the Beatles only a few years ago. I did it myself. I did everything the wrong way round. God knows where my dad is, but whenever I did see him he’s have Aerosmith and AC/DC and rock stuff on.
Do you not see you dad nowadays?
No, I’ve not seen him for years. We didn’t fall out we just stopped seeing each other. My and my siblings – I’ve got two sisters and a brother – are a strong bunch. None of us have really seen him and I don’t know where he is or what he’s doing but I hope he’s happy, sort of. I used to be very bitter about him and I’ve written two songs about him. One’s called I Know You Care and it’s been used for that new film Now Is Good with Dakota Fanning. It’s the saddest film I’ve ever seen in my life. Don’t see it on a hangover or if you’re feeling depressed. Dakota is such a huge star.
Are you happy now?
Do I not seem it?
I’m not sure. I just want to make sure you’ve got out of that depression.
I’m happy because I’ve got a new record. So I’m happy in that sense. I genuinely have been too busy to think about anything. I’ve forgotten to do things I should be doing. It’s hard to keep yourself in check in this job.
Has second album syndrome crossed your mind and is there pressure for success?
Not really. I feel like it’s just a new project. We did a re-release of Lights with new tracks and Eps so it was different. You have to forget your successes when you start work on a new album. It’s starting from scratch. Regardless of what your first album does sales wise you need to think about your work first and foremost.
How much do you cost to be a wedding singer?
Wah. I still can’t believe that actually happened.
How was it performing for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge?
It’s pretty badass. And mental. I’d never done anything private like that before. I did a Richard Branson party before actually. Such a big shock too. I look back at it and it feels like a dream.
Is X Factor your bag – I wondered why you weren’t a guest judge?
I don’t know if I was. But it’s not really my bag. I wouldn’t be a good judge. I’d be shit at it. Only because I get nervous on TV and I wouldn’t say what I felt. I want people to do well and develop into artists and it is a good show. But I hope the artists do get to develop within that format.
Have you seen any of this year’s show?
I know there was a girl with a guitar who seemed very good.
Yes, I wish her the best of luck. I did what she did and play guitar in the pubs where nobody listened and work my arse off. I just hope they have the time to breathe and they have the right people around them. To let them become the artist they want to be.
You were on Jonathan Ross last night – how was that with all those ‘celebs’?
It was amazing. Taylor swift said she was my biggest fan and was singing my songs at me. Which was overwhelming to me. She knew a track called This Love Would Be A Downfall on my first album. She’s stunning too. Nicole Scherzinger was lovely too and Gary I’ve known for years.
And what about Stephen Fry too!
I know. I was so amazed to meet him. He started following me on twitter too after the show. We had a good old chat.
Were you nervous meeting him?
I’d be worried I wasn’t clever enough!
I was. There was a guy in X Factor called Rylan and we had an imitator of Rylan come in and freak out like he was the real guy. We did a sketch. Stephen was so sweet and knew who I was. I had the time of my life on that show.
Ellie’s album Halcyon is out tomorrow…go get it…