Interview – Ellie Goulding
- by Heather Welsh
English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding took the UK by storm last year. After signing to Polydor Records in 2009 she released her debut album Lights, which showcased her unique voice, pop-electronica style and earned her many dedicated fans. The album went to number 1 in the UK Charts and she’s now attempting to reach the same level of success across North America.
Her tour of the US and Canada started at South by Southwest in Austin and also incorporates Coachella Festival in California, ending in Los Angeles April 20th.
A keen runner, Goulding writes about experiences she’s had in life and love, and the natural highs encountered in life. We talk to her by phone a couple of days before her sold-out show April 10 at Venue in Vancouver.
Heather Welsh: Most of the dates on your North American tour are now sold out; you must be stoked about that! Are you nervous about making a good impact on crowds here?
Ellie Goulding: Yeah I know, everything’s sold out now so it’s really cool. It’s hard to think about getting nervous really because you kind of have to just get on with it. The reactions so far have been really positive, I look out to see loads of smiling faces looking back at me, it’s been an amazing reaction.
I mean everyone, certainly in Toronto, the crowd was excellent so I really feel positive. I think that touring can
be really hard because it’s so busy but I’ve just had a little break so I’m feeling really ready to do the next show now.
HW: What was it like collaborating with Tinie Tempah on “Wonderman”? How did that come about?
EG: Me and Tinie are friends and he just asked if I wanted to sing with him on the track. Literally I went down to the studio with him and Labyrinth who produced his album and we just had fun. It didn’t take long to record and it was really fun. I feel lucky to have worked with Tinie because he’s a really great person, really down-to-earth, really lovely and talented.
HW: You’ve done lots of covers already including Sam Sparo’s “Black and Gold”, a song that has also been covered by Adele and Katy Perry. Why did you choose that song?
EG: It’s a long time ago, I didn’t think that cover would ever surface! I just did it because Finn really loved that song and wanted me to do a cover of it. It wasn’t actually my idea it was my producer Starsmith’s idea so he suggested it to see how long it would take to do a decent cover and it took us six hours or something, and that’s what we came up with. That was when he was still at University in Guildford. [Hear Goulding's cover of "Black and Gold".]
HW: Who are your biggest musical influences?
EG: Björk is one of them. When I was younger I was really into Lauryn Hill and Beyoncé but also grunge like Pearl Jam and Incubus. I like people with really interesting vocals so Björk is probably one of my biggest musical influences. I was absolutely obsessed with Debut and with the greatest hits album and I got the other albums and slowly became really, really obsessed so that’s why I’d say her.
HW: What are you listening to at the moment?
HW: It funny you should say that because I’d love to hear you doing something really experimental with the likes of James Blake or Jamie Woon…
EG: Yeah I can’t decide who’s the better vocalist, they’re both really unique and it really cool that they have a really strong identity; you couldn’t group them with anyone else. I think that it’s really positive for male solo artists because recently it’s been a lot about bands and female singers so I’m really glad that they’re doing well.
HW: So if you could work with any artist right now, who would it be?
EG: I think it’d be Jamie Woon, I adore him!
HW: How involved are you with the artistic direction for your videos and album art? Is it something you enjoy getting involved with?
EG: Well actually when I think back to it, at the beginning when I was doing my videos I wasn’t really having much of a say in the videos. However when it came to the “Lights” video it got to the point where I really wanted to have complete control. I have a hard time thinking up crazy scenarios for my songs because I think it wouldn’t be true to the songs, my songs are really honest and open and straightforward really.
So lyrically there wasn’t anything I could create to complement the song “Lights” so I wanted to put emphasis on the performance with an added technological edge. What we ended up doing was working with a university, we ended up using really cool light techniques, really new technology with cameras and all kinds of stuff so that was really fun. But I think for my next video I’d like to have a lot more control over it.
HW: Does the same go for what your wear in your videos and on stage?
EG: When I’m with my boyfriend I feel like dressing girly and conservative, I like wearing a little dress or something. But there’s two sides to me because my on stage thing is quite rock and roll, it’s quite all over the place and I don’t mind looking a bit edgy. I’m not afraid to be a bit different and I have piercings and I like skulls and crosses you know, quite strong imagery on my jewelry and stuff however I have that other side to me. I love wearing a really lovely Burberry coat a really nice dress and big heels so it depends what mood I’m in.
Right now I’m in the bus actually so I’m in really comfy leggings and a t-shirt, you can’t really jaunt around the bus wearing a stage outfit when we’ve got a 20 hour bus journey ahead of us!
HW: I read that you run six miles a day, do you keep this up whilst you’ve got a heavy tour schedule going on?
EG: God, I don’t do that anymore! It’s too busy at the moment and when I do have energy I just want to chill out so I find it harder to train these days. But I do as much as I can when I can so it’ll be like three or four times a week.
HW: Do you run in the cities that you visit?
EG: I don’t know what the climate is going to be like or if I’m going to get lost or whatever so when I’m on tour I run on the treadmill. When I’m in London I run everywhere, I run through Regent’s Park.
HW: It’s karaoke night, which song do you choose?
EG: “Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston.
HW: To those who haven’t heard your album, how would you describe it and why should they take a listen?
EG: It’s a really feel-good album; most of the responses I’ve had have been of people feeling really positive and have said that it makes them feel really alive. I guess that I make music to run to; if you’re looking for music that’s good for the soul I recommend my album!