It’s one thing to pop off, but it’s quite another to be misquoted, and that’s where Ellie Goulding is at in her career right now. The twisting of words, the scrutiny over her clothes, all while she continues to bitch slap the pop charts by delivering music that defies genre in its combination of folky ballads mixed with electronic up-tempo cuts (2009 called that combo Folktronica). But that’s what happens when you become a superstar, no matter the amount of work put into your hustle.
Ellie's rise to stardom kicked off around 2010/2011 with “Lights,” she returned in 2012 with “Anything Could Happen,” and then popped in again for 2013 with “Burn.” She’s averaging a massive hit a year, and despite those odds, she’s still under the microscope. It’s less of a “woe is me” for Ellie, and more of a “fuck you I’m fabulous,” if you will. Her songs are on the top of the charts, she's touring, all while soundtracking the Divergent movie. She gave Noisey one of the few interviews she’s currently doing to discuss her potential rap career, her secret production skills, and how she’s (word to Pharrell) very happy.
Noisey: So you’re the “musical voice” of Divergent. What does that mean?
Ellie Goulding: Well, in addition to doing songs for the film, my voice is interwoven into the score. I listened to a ton of Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard, all of this orchestral stuff to try and get a feel for it. If I had more time, I would’ve been even more heavily involved, but they’ve actually brought in a lot more artists now to be involved. I’m in good company.
Yeah you’ve got Zedd on there, Banks…
Banks is so fuckin’ cool. She’s one of the best female voices I’ve heard in a long time.
I agree. You've been under a lot of scrutiny lately because people are saying you've been dressing "provocatively." When the hell did you start getting scrutinized over dumb shit?
Yeah, I’ve been dressing provocatively apparently. I don’t know. I think over the last year I’ve definitely been wearing stuff that’s a bit more sexy. But only because I feel more comfortable with my body. And whether or not I can justify it with my body? I don’t know. But it’s more like a mindset. I just feel more comfortable within myself, and maybe my clothes have reflected that. But like right now I’m wearing a backwards cap, a t-shirt, rolled up jeans, and like some loafer-things. I still wear the same stuff, it’s just that when I’m on stage I rock out a little bit.
Being a woman in the entertainment industry apparently means if you cover up too much you’re not being sexy enough, but the moment you show some skin you’re dressing “provocatively”?
Exactly, but that’s why it bums me out, because there has to always be a story. There’s very few celeb women in the music industry and even in the film industry that don’t get picked on for one reason or another. There’s always a focus on them for something. They have to keep making stories to keep people interested and keep people wrapped up in this world of like following other people to distract themselves from life. I do it too. I read gossip magazines. I can’t help it. But I seem to be one who has kind of landed in the “now I’m dressing too provocatively” thing.
And the thing is, it’s not a thing. I’m never that wild with what I wear, by any means. It seems like there has to be something or else everything is boring. They can’s say “Ellie wore this on stage. It was very nice. She did a good show.” You can always tell reviews in the bigger papers over ones in the smaller publications because in the smaller ones if a show was good, they’ll just say it was good. But in a [bigger] review, there always has to be a comment on everything. Like an essay. It can’t just be…good.
Yeah never. They’re like, “We need more adjectives.”
You’ve been pretty vocal about how the media picks people apart on Twitter. I remember a while back you retweeted Drake’s “I'm done doing interviews for magazines. I just want to give my music to the people. That's the only way my message gets across accurately” tweet. Have you felt that since your career hit this next level, the media fucks with you more? I mean it’s obvious, but has it gotten to the point where you’re like, “Ok guys. Enough.”
When you get to certain levels of fame or success, whatever you say will be twisted into what they want it to be. If I said something about an artist, it’s entirely always intended to be positive – because I don’t believe in looking down on other people. I believe that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. I always want to draw attention to positive things. It will always be twisted into something that’s controversial, and it’s happening more and more and more. It happened with Drake in Rolling Stone, and it’s not fair because I don’t think there are that many people who go out and say bad things about other people. I mean, it does happen, but most of the time words are twisted and things end up being a story and then they say, “Oh. Well, she’s not very cool. She said this about this person.” It just sucks. It’s not necessary.
Music should speak for itself. I’ve released so much music, and I’ve collaborated so much and I’ve done so many covers. But people always want more. I’ve found myself doing interviews – or I’ll talk to a tabloid journalist every now and then—and no matter what I say in that interview, there always seems to be a negative spin on something. So that’s why I retweeted [Drake], because I was like, “I’m nowhere near as big as what you are, but I can relate to something as extreme as that.” Because it’s not fair.
Let’s talk about something positive. A lot of people don’t know that you’re also a producer and you’ve had a really heavy hand in the production of your music. You’ve learned how to manipulate bits of your voice and add them to the beats which ultimately has become that signature Ellie Goulding sound. Will we be seeing more of "Producer Ellie" going forward?
Yeah, the next album I know will be very hands-on again. Even if I go into the studio with someone that I absolutely love, and I’m like, “Whatever you want to do. I’ll just come in and sing,” it’ll still end up being me. If I play a song for my close friends and people that know me well or other musicians that know my music well—even the first 10 seconds of a song without my voice—they’d know it was me straight away. But yeah, I’m very hands-on. I kind of have to be involved, because I know that those songs are going to be everything, and it would kind of be madness for me to not have a lot of creative involvement, and be there. It’s kind of tough for me, because I want to do everything alone, but I can’t. I have to be with someone. I actually like that dynamic though, going back and forth with ideas with someone and just having fun. That whole process. I think I’d get a bit lonely by myself.
Okay well, we won’t talk about men this time, but… are you happy?
Yeah. I am. My life right now—a majority of it is on the road, and so that’s kind of self-explanatory. I’m always on the road, I’m always on the move. I’m with my band and my crew, and that’s kind of how things are at the moment. But I’m happy though. Really happy.
And you’re still vegetarian.
Don’t know why that followed a question on happiness.
No no, it’s a huge part of it! It’s a new way of life for me, and it’s made me think a lot differently. I’m a whole lot healthier. I’ve stopped caring about skinny and what people think of me. Now I just care about being healthy.
So in your cover of James Blake’s “Life Round Here” with Angel Haze, I noticed there’s a little piece of the song where you’re rapping…
The “’cause I’m fucked up…” part…
Oh no, that’s Angel.
Wait, how? She has an accent there, though.
No, I know the part, but I think I told her I wanted something a bit different and bit darker there. I told her to go out of her comfort zone, so maybe it was that.
Okay, well I was going to ask you about your future rap career, but damnit you’ve fucked up my question.
[Laughs] I mean, I probably could rap? I do love it. I would be worried about what people would think if I just found a new career out of rap.
It can happen. Rappers seem to love you.
[Laughs] I mean, I could give rapping a go. See what happens? I would really love to see what happens if I did.
Kathy Iandoli really wants to hear Ellie rap now. She's on Twitter - @kath3000
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