The PV Q&A: Ellie Goulding On Halcyon & What's To Come: "I Want To Do Way More Stuff This Year"

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Interview by Tom Lanham

Before she even gets started discussing her new sophomore outing Halcyon—which follows her smash 2011 debut LightsEllie Goulding apologizes profusely, in between sniffles. “I’ve got a bit of a cold and I haven’t been feeling very good,” she explains. “Which means that I’m just really sluggish today.”

And, granted, the interview does start slow. What celebrities has she met lately? “Oh, I don’t know.” Pause. “I’ve probably met loads of people, but I’ve forgotten.”

How has the techno-pop diva’s life changed over the past year, now that she’s opened for Katy Perry on her “California Dreams” tour; performed Elton John’s “Your Song” at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton; and—after a breakup with BBC Radio DJ Greg James—started dating (and now stopped dating) red-hot electronic DJ/producer Skrillex? She yawns. “Well, sitting here in my dressing room in Southampton in the UK, not much feels different, you know? But I suppose things have changed a lot—it’s just that it’s been such a slow progression that I haven’t really noticed!”

PureVolume: Halcyon tracks like “My Blood,” “Hanging On,” “Don’t Say a Word,” and “Dead in the Water” document your romantic split. Were you incredibly depressed for most of its writing?
Ellie Goulding: Oh, yeah. Definitely. A lot of the stuff that I wrote was based on a lot of sad things that I was experiencing at the time. So I didn’t intentionally write the songs as break-up songs or anything like that. But that’s sure how it ended up sounding. I think the reason Halcyon ended up sounding the way it did was, I’d finished touring with Lights, and I suddenly was back home, writing a new record. It was all very quiet and lonely, and quite a strange time. So, yeah, I’d experienced a break-up, and it felt like everything had changed. But I’m in such a good place at the moment, it’s pretty hard to think back to that time now.
PV: Did you lose some confidence in the process?
EG: Yeah. And I’m still regaining it. Slowly. It’s taken a while. And it’s not because you necessarily lose your confidence, but you definitely go into a very different headspace when you’re just writing, as opposed to being out performing and seeing fans every night. When you’re locked away in the studio writing, it becomes a very different sort of feeling.
PV: How did you get your confidence back?
EG: It’s just very weird. When I was younger and living in Hereford, break-ups were totally different. You’d see the person every day, end up bumping into them or you’d have mutual friends and all that. But in my situation, I’m constantly on the road, so no matter what happens in my life, I’ll take it on the road with me. Whether it’s negative or positive, I always have to take everything with me in my suitcase. Because that’s your only option, really. So you tend to get over things much quicker, when your life is just a bit crazy like that.
PV: Do you keep journals while you’re going through such turmoil?
EG: I write stuff down all the time. But journals? At the moment, I have none. But I’m writing things all the time, like lyrics and stuff that doesn’t make sense.
PV: What is the triangle tattoo you have on your wrist?
EG: It’s like a symbol. I used to draw triangles when I was young, and when I used to go and write songs, I’d draw triangles instead. And I knew that it always meant something, but I didn’t know what. And I still have yet to find out the meaning of it. But it’s something that sets off a lot of nostalgia for me. I got it about six months ago.
PV: You love to work out. Now that the money’s rolled in, have you bought yourself a home gym yet?
EG: No, I don’t have a home gym. I have a really tiny flat in London, so I don’t have room for a home gym.
PV: Have people started to recognize you on the street when you’re out jogging?
EG: Not really. I mean, I get the occasional double-take. But I just have my headphones on all the time.
PV: As the fable goes, weren’t you on your way to the gym when you got a message from Buckingham Palace? But you ignored it and went ahead with your workout?
EG: Yeah! I just didn’t know who it was. It was all very confusing, and I didn’t really know what was going on. But [the royal couple] were just huge fans. And I hung out with them a bunch—it was very surreal, and it’s still quite bizarre to think about, really. But they’re just nice, down-to-earth people. And, yeah [Buckingham Palace] is quite a fucking cool place to live.

PV: You weren’t nervous about chatting with royalty?
EG: No. I’m quite good like that. I don’t really get nervous around people, because I never get starstruck, really.
PV: How did you meet Sonny Moore, better known as Skrillex?
EG: We met because he sent me an e-mail saying that he was a really huge fan of my music, and I replied. Then we met up in person in Memphis, and we just hit it off and realized that we were really good mates. And then eventually we realized that we were more than mates.
PV: Is there an album-length collaboration in your future?
EG: I think we will—we spoke even yesterday about it, that we’ll do something eventually. But right now, we’re both just too busy. And I want to do way more stuff this year—I have this little electronic project, more kind of dub-steppy, I suppose—quite minimal electronic stuff. But it’s my voice and my writing, which is more poppy, you know? Because I’m always inclined to write pop songs. So I think that’ll be coming out some time this year.
PV: It’s weird that it took two long years for the “Lights” single to finally catch on in America.
EG: Well, I never really thought that it was that good of a song, anyway!
PV: What?!
EG: (Laughs) Oh. My God! What am I saying? I’m not feeling well! I’m sorry!

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Ellie Goulding

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