Ellie Goulding has been making a huge musical ruckus around the world. Not too long ago, the singer known for her distinctive voice and sound, played in front of British royal couple William and Kate at Buckingham Palace. During her recent tour, JUICE managed to catch the Brit Award winner during her quick stopover concert at the Esplanade, Singapore to talk about writing, her music and her latest studio album (after her debut album Lights), Halcyon.
When you were younger you kept a diary and later, transferred those memories onto your music, what do you think was your most interesting diary entry and is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t convert into a song?
I think my most interesting entry would be when I started picking up my own language. I still don’t know why I did that, I was only 12. What wouldn’t I convert into a song? I sing about my family a lot and I think there are some things that should remain private. But actually saying that, I write about a lot of things, like I write very personally and very honestly, I can’t help it, that’s just the way how I write.
What inspired your latest album Halcyon?
A lot of different things. I wrote a lot of the lyrics by the sea in Ireland. I went there by myself with just my guitar. Spending all that time alone walking around was what I needed because I spend a lot of time on the road with people and being in the spotlight for quite a long time. So to suddenly be in this little village by myself was really therapeutic. I also wrote a lot of lyrics from reading poetry, reading books, and also things from my childhood.
You were known as the “Electro Goddess”. How did that start for you?
The first time that I wrote songs on the guitar and put them up on MySpace and stuff, I knew there was something missing and I immediately looked for electronic producers to work with. I think had I not taken that step and direction, things could have gone a different way. At that time I knew there was something that needed to be added to my songs. From the very beginning I’ve always felt connected to electronic music. From all through my childhood that was all I heard. And the fact that electronic producers have shown an interest in me from the start made me think that maybe I was making music subconsciously to be electronic music.
You said you had a very strange childhood and you were quite a strange kid, what was your favourite childhood memory and if you could travel back in time, what would you say to that kid?
I was always the kid that thought too much and my brain would get overactive and I used to think the world was ending and a meteorite would smash into earth and kill everyone. Because of that, I think that’s why I started writing diaries so young. At 13 or 14, I already had my heart broken and that’s just me over thinking everything… But without all of that stuff I probably wouldn’t be here now. I sort of want to tell myself that everything would be okay.
What were some of your New Year’s resolution and what do you reckon you should or shouldn’t do this year?
I’m trying to not drink and smoke. I’m trying to do more scary things… I was looking up roller coasters this morning to see what roller coaster I can go on around the world as I am travelling. I’m just scared of everything all the time and that’s why I did sky diving in Dubai recently. I wanted to do the scariest thing I can possibly do and it kind of works because now I want to do more stuff to overcome my fears.
If music hadn’t work out for you, did you have a backup plan? Like being a rocket scientist, a pharmacist…
I couldn’t be a rocket scientist. I was in the arts, English, geography and history. I was terrible in science and math. If there were anything that I could change about myself or improve on, it would be math and science. So many of my friends are clever in that way and I’m not. I acted for a long time through my childhood and I studied drama in college and university but maybe it was actually singing that I loved in that because I always wanted a part that I could sing. I also thought about being a personal trainer or maybe something to do with theatre or teaching.
Do you have a favourite song from out of the 2 albums?
I think ‘My Blood’ is my favourite song. It’s very special to me. It’s a really sad song about how someone kind of takes something very big away from you. Like when you lose a lot of blood and you feel very defeated and I think that’s how I felt sometimes. It is also a very hopeful kind of song. I heard the first remix of it today and I realised how soulful it is and when you put it in a different context, you can sort of see what it can become.
When you write, what usually goes on in your mind? Do you have a routine?
No. It can happen in lots of different ways. Sometimes it could be whoever I’m working with or I will come up with some ideas on the guitar. There are never any rules for me other than I write best when I’m out in the countryside for some reason. I feel claustrophobic in the studios in the city underground where [the studios] usually are. I just need to work with someone I really trust… not in a friendship trust kind of way but someone I can trust with my very personal lyrics and ideas and I have that with Jim [Eliot]. He’s such a fun person to work with. And I was with him and his family and felt very comfortable and will probably work with him again.
We understand that you have a pretty intense emotional connection to your songs in Halcyon. Have you ever found it difficult to perform such heartfelt lyrics at a live gig and not break down or react in some way?
Not really. Being on stage and performing is the most incredible feeling in the world. I did a sky dive on New Year’s Eve, and jumped out of a plane at 14,000 feet and that was such an adrenalin rush, but I still get a bigger ‘buzz’ when I perform my songs to an audience.
We take it that song writing give you some form of catharsis?
Writing is the best way of expressing and working through everyday problems. Otherwise I keep fit and healthy. I run every day.
You’re on Calvin Harris’ new album and we hear you’re about to lend vocals on DJ Fresh track too. Do you enjoy collaborating to electronic producers?
Yes! Ever since I put out ‘Your Song’, that was the point where I was like ‘right, time to do other stuff’. So I went and worked with Billboard, who produced ‘Hanging On’, and I’ve made stuff with Skrillex, and with people that I met through him, I’ve just been having the time of my life as a singer because my voice is so much stronger, and fun, I can do so much stuff with it.
Ellie Goulding played live at the Esplanade, Singapore on Tuesday, 26 February 2013. Catch more updates on her website at elliegoulding.com.