There’s much more to Ellie Goulding than the sweet persona that many may assume due to her beautifully high, hoarse vocals. By listening to her music, one knows that the British singer has been through quite a few ordeals (perhaps most recently, her break-up with Skrillex), but she’s constantly finding positive and exciting ways to channel that energy – through her amazing live performances, her constant search for new music, or by training for an upcoming half marathon with Nike. One can always sense that hint of fun rebelliousness in Ellie’s personality, and it is reflected in her live sets (seriously, you should check out her drumming skills). In fact, by the end of her show, I’ve convinced myself I want to take a shot, learn to drum and rock out with Ellie on stage.
Following the success of her debut project, which contained the worldwide hit “Lights” and viral cover of Elton John’s “Your Song”, Ellie released Halcyon, her sophomore effort. We know her as the British darling who continues to leave an impression on electronic pop music, quickly becoming one of most-remixed artists of our time. As she sat next to me on the couch in her quiet Fillmore dressing room (which deserves recognition for having a table adorned with sweets), I realized the beautiful British singer could potentially add A&R to her list of many talents and hobbies. A few days before kicking off her US leg of the Halcyon Days tour in Miami, Ellie posted an Instagram photo checking out Earmilk. She later explained that she’s an avid fan of our site. Read on to find out more about Ellie’s tour necessities, which US rappers she’s listening to, and her weakness for a particular Green Goddess.
EARMILK: How did you find Earmilk.com?
Ellie Goulding: Just because of Hype Machine. I was on Hype Machine at one point, and I discovered something – I think it was one of my remixes, and I was wondering where it had come from. I even think, ages ago, you guys put out my Rihanna cover of “Only Girl in the World”. I noticed when I had it up on my phone it was Earmilk, and I was like oh, what’s that? I’ve been on it ever since, looking for stuff. My favorite thing in the world is to find new music. It’s just nice to introduce people to stuff. When people say that they’ve found something, I’m kind of like, “Damn it, why didn’t I find that first?” [laughs]
I have this slight advantage – basically, ages ago, my ex-boyfriend put me in this email chain with him and some of the biggest DJs in the world: him, Diplo, A-Trak, Flux Pavilion, anyone you can think of. I was just in there somewhere, and they started to send each other tracks: new stuff, unreleased stuff, VIP stuff. I was like, oh my God, I’m the luckiest girl in the world. I love discovering new electronic music, but the fact that I get to discover it in such a cool way. I don’t give any of it out or send it to people. It’s just for me.
EM: It’s interesting, a lot of the music we post is sent to us, or we’ll share links with each other of music to post. Disclosure, you know who they are? I heard “Latch” and I fell in love. Sometimes that YouTube link doesn’t have many views at all, but it’ll be a great artist and a great song.
EG: Yeah! I have a guy, James, who works at my label and sends me stuff all the time. He sends me a lot of garage – I love garage music so much. It’s kind of where a lot of dubstep originated from. But he’ll send me YouTube links where the videos only have 2,000 views. I love that.
EM: Do you listen to any hip-hop? Who do you like?
EG: Yeah! I do! Recently, I like Kendrick Lamar and his style. And I like that A$AP [Rocky] track with Florence (Welch). [pauses] I don’t love it, but I like it. But when I first heard “Fuckin’ Problems” I laughed – thought it was hilarious. But yeah, I do. I listen to so much stuff. I really do.
EM: I figured, with your schedule, you may not have time to look for new music.
EG: Any time I’m on my computer I’m looking for new stuff. [pauses] You know what? I haven’t heard anything that’s really blown my mind lately. And maybe I just need to find it? But just because something doesn’t have a million views doesn’t mean it’s not great. Sometimes I find stuff and I’m like why has this not gotten more views? Then word spreads, and then it does. I’ve just found a lot of music blogs from people posting my music, and me wondering where they came from.
EM: So you’re on tour, and this is your first stop. What are some of your tour necessities?
EG: I need my running shoes; I wear those [points at Nike trainers] a lot. I need my boots. (Ellie’s wearing Doc Martens.) Headphones, trainers, my steamer – which I use every time I perform for my voice. Those are my essentials. I don’t usually put on a lot of make-up but I put on quite a lot for the stage. But yeah, I don’t feel ready! It’s my first show, and I feel like I just need to get into the groove. But soundcheck went really well; it was amazing. Actually, the last time I was here was with Skrillex. It seems like we’ve played quite a lot of similar venues, which is funny. Are you staying to watch?
EM: Yes, I’ll be here! It’s actually pretty crazy how this meeting came about – I emailed Jamie telling him about the Instagram photo, and I had no idea he’d offer to set this up.
EG: [laughs] It’s so funny how you wouldn’t even be here if I hadn’t happened to—I was just looking for music, and I was like, you know what, I’m going to Instagram a photo of this ridiculous cocktail. And I did. And it went down so quick. I was just sipping on it like a fucking—what do you call those—slushpuppies? Slushies. And before I knew it, it was gone, and I had a live TV performance that night on German TV for 6 million people, and I was starting to feel a little bit tipsy. [laughs]
EM: It hits you later! It always sneaks up on you like that.
EG: Yeah, I know. One time I played a show, and for some reason I was drinking and drinking before I played. The drinks they were giving me were called Green Goddesses, and they do creep up on you! They tasted so delicious and non-alcoholic, so I was drinking loads, and it was probably my worst-ever performance I’ve ever given, because I was just too drunk. It’s not good! I’m trying to wean myself off, so I’ll just have one before I go on. Depending on the occasion, I’ll have a few afterwards. I’m more confident. Like, I sing some pretty fucking high notes during your show, and sometimes I go like [sings] and it just doesn’t cut it. But when I’ve had alcohol, I’m like [uses fist as mic and sings boldly]. It does make a difference! I had some blood tests the other day, just to check I’m okay. Somehow, I’m completely 100% healthy. [laughs] Nothing wrong with me! We were all a bit surprised.
EM: Well, that’s good! There is something I wanted to ask you, actually – how did that Tinie Tempah verse on “Hanging On” come about?
EG: Well, first we did a track called “Wonderman”, which was his song. I sang on that, and there were some really cool remixes to that song. So I sent him “Hanging On” to record, and he loved it. And I love it. You know what, there have been mixed feelings on that, like really mixed. But everyone knows the words! People come up to me and sing the Tinie bit and stuff. But he’s clever, because he knew that’s what he was doing.
EM: It’s interesting, because he crossed over with some big singles. But for the most part, UK hip-hop just never seems to cross over all the way. But when that record came out, no matter how you felt about it, you did know the words.
EG: Right, it’s massive!
EM: So are you already recording the new album?
EG: I’ve already recorded a bunch of tracks, I just need to get them polished up and finished. I think I just need one extra, final push of inspiration on these tracks, because they’re there, but they’re not all the way done yet. But that’ll be right when I get back to Billboard. He’s in LA – he’s the one who did “Hanging On” as well. So once I get back with him, I’ll finish that off. I’m just gonna bring it out. I don’t know what to call it yet – if you got any ideas, let me know. But I’m just gonna put it out. I’m not gonna do anything for it apart from put it out there.
EM: I think that’s sick! You should do it. How hard is it for you to come up with new material?
EG: Umm, I don’t know. I just hear something. I hear a sound, something on the piano, and it kind of comes. It’s a very two-man thing, me and Jim [Eliot] making Halcyon. He just had these amazing ideas; he seemed to understand what I wanted to do, and it’s very rare that you find someone like that, someone who just gets you. It just takes something like that, just a little noise. [laughs] Just a melody, or anything.