Elena Jane Goulding (/ˈɡoʊldɪŋ/ GOLDing; born 30 December 1986) is an English singer and songwriter. Her career began when she met record producers Starsmith and Frankmusik, and she was later spotted by Jamie Lillywhite, who later became her manager and A&R. After signing to Polydor Records in July 2009, Goulding released her debut extended play, An Introduction to Ellie Goulding later that year.
From politics to poetry, singer Ellie Goulding is way more than your average saccharine sweet pop star. Stylist’s Lizzie Pook discovers a darker side as she steps inside the star’s contradictory life.
Pop stars aren’t often considered particularly dark, but would you describe yourself that way?
I actually used to be a goth. I had my lip pierced, had very long hair that I dyed black every four weeks. I was a bit of a grunger – I listened to heavy metal like System Of A Down, Deftones, Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Then I started getting into folk music and I discovered female singers, and that changed it all for me.
Are you quite an emotional person, typically?
I’m definitely a crier. Especially when I drink champagne. The worst thing is when you’re trying to hold it together on stage and you’re suddenly aware that there are probably a million people taking pictures and filming you. I played Paris not long after the Bataclan terrorist attacks [in November 2015]. I could feel that there was a very different spirit in the audience that day. People were just grateful to hear some music and to be out having a good night with friends – which is exactly what people were doing at the Bataclan. There was a moment where everyone was screaming with joy and shouting my name – I really struggled to hold back the tears that day.
Do you think you’re quite emotionally intelligent?
Since I was young I remember being quite emotionally aware. I could tune in to how I was feeling and understand if I was being irrational, or understand if I was overthinking something. Overthinking can destroy you. I was diagnosed with exhaustion a couple of months back, but it’s only now that I realise how bad it really was. When I think back to my tiredness, my slump, not wanting to exercise and not being interested in anything… It wasn’t depression, it was just my body giving up.
The day before Ellie Goulding kicked off the North American leg of her Delirium World Tour in Vancouver, the 29-year-old Grammy-nominated pop and EDM superstar spent 60 minutes with FLARE editor-in-chief Cameron Williamson, sipping champers and slinging #realtalk about slut-shaming, panic attacks, Taylor’s squad and Canada’s “really hot” new PM.
You flew into Vancouver from London yesterday. Are you jet-lagged?
That’s why we are drinking—we genuinely need the buzz of something to get us through the day. I hadn’t been on a long-haul flight for a few weeks, so I thought, I’ll just have a little tipple to take the edge off. I made the mistake of having too many drinks, and then I watched Carol, and for the rest of the flight I was thinking about feminism and women’s rights—like, so seriously that it bummed me out.
What are your feelings on the current state of feminism?
It’s always tempting to talk about negative things when I get asked this, but I’m also seeing positive changes. A decade ago, a woman would have been too scared to go into the weight section of the gym. Now every time I go to the gym, I see more women lifting weights. But with music, I’m not going to lie—I’ve experienced the misogyny that comes with writing songs like “On My Mind,” where I talk openly about a one-night stand. It’s almost like girls aren’t allowed to have one-night stands, but I’m like, f-ck that.
Have you ever been slut-shamed?
I have been, 100 percent, on social media. I work out a lot; I’m proud of my body. I put up a picture of myself, and people are like, “Put it away; you’re supposed to be a good influence on young people.” Young women should have the freedom to post a picture with no makeup and wearing a track suit or in full makeup and a tight dress.
What did you think of Kim Kardashian’s naked Instagram selfie?
Honestly, it did not phase me. I feel like I have the right to do the same thing if I ever wanted to. She’s a mom; she’s had kids; she looks incredible. She works hard for her body, and it’s beautiful.
You seem to work pretty hard for yours, too.
I work hard, but I don’t have the perfect body. When I put up a fitness video [Goulding is a Nike ambassador and has designed workouts for the brand’s Training Club app], I’m encouraging other women to be physically strong. I’ve been boxing for years. If I was ever attacked, I could look after myself.
I think so. I grew up in a village that was very rough with some very tough girls who could truly look out for themselves. [Goulding grew up in public housing in Herefordshire, England.] We all ran around and were active. I think that’s where my love of fitness and being agile comes from. So when I post stuff, it’s for a good reason. I don’t expect people to say, “Nice ass.”
Do you feel like social media is necessary to build your brand?
I wouldn’t have said that a few years back, but then I suddenly got 10 million Instagram followers, so maybe I’m doing something right. I don’t have Snapchat. My fans keep telling me to get it, but I’m not quite ready.
Unlike a lot of celebs, you’ve talked about the famous men you’ve dated [like One Direction’s Niall Horan and McBusted’s Dougie Poynter, from whom she recently split]. How do you decide what is private versus public?
There are private things people wouldn’t know because I haven’t mentioned them, but I’m pretty open, and that’s just how I’ve always been. The guys I’ve been with know this about me. I have the same vulnerabilities, the same fears, the same insecurities as the next girl, but I’m very open about them. So rather than put up a front, if I’m scared of something, I’ll just say it or tweet about it.
You struggled with panic attacks earlier in your career. How did you learn to cope?
By having cognitive behavioural therapy. I was skeptical at first because I’d never had therapy, but not being able to leave the house was so debilitating. And this was when my career was really taking off. My surroundings would trigger a panic attack, so I couldn’t go to the studio unless I was lying down in the car with a pillow over my face. I used to beat myself up about it.
Do you still have attacks?
There were a couple of times after I released Delirium when I was doing promo and thought, Oh god, it’s coming back, it’s coming back, but it didn’t. I think my body has become quite good at controlling anxiety.
You’re pretty tight with Taylor Swift. Do you rely on her or other famous friends for advice on dealing with the intensity of the music world?
Not necessarily famous people, but people who make a living doing music. It’s good to get the perspective of people who have been through the same things I have.
The pair have split – but you wouldn’t know it from how much they’ve been gushing about each other! #Feels
Ellie Goulding and Dougie Pointer might no longer be an official couple, but the pair still “love each other very much” and it’s giving us pretty much ALL of the feels in the world right now.
Dougie’s opened up about the couple’s sad split back in February after a two-year romance (which we’re STILL not over), and confirmed they ended things simply because of the long distance and how busy they are in their professional careers.
He ALSO confirmed that he and Ells got to hang out again at Coachella Festival this month like old times with their friends, making us thing this MAY just be the nicest break-up ever.
“We love each other very much, we’re still best of friends,” Dougie revealed to The Sun. “We hung out at Coachella like all day, with her friends and my friends. It’s really, really cool.”
“It’s just both being all over the place, like I said, we still get on really well,” he explained. “She’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
Ellie Goulding has had a one busy year. She released her third album, Delirium, to critical acclaim, received her first Grammy nomination (Best Pop Solo Performance for “Love Me Like You Do”), and embarked on a mostly sold-out world tour. So it’s not surprising that, hours before taking the stage at Coachella, she feels more tired than nervous. “I’m so exhausted,” she told InStyle in her trailer ahead of her set. In fact, the British singer known for her breathy vocals recently tweeted that she’ll be taking a much-needed, long overdue break from the music biz imminently. But first, she’ll crush her performance, because that’s just the kind of woman she is. Below, we talked with Goulding about the perils of touring and why girl squads are essential.
How do you typically unwind after a performance?
“Have a drink! Then I get out of my sweaty clothes and eat. I can’t eat before a show or else I’ll literally puke.”
What are you planning on eating after the show tonight?
“Anything vegan. There are some good taco places around here.”
How long have you been a vegan? Why the change?
“About three years. I was vegetarian in my teens as well. It’s better for the environment; it’s more sustainable. I wouldn’t kill an animal, so I wouldn’t want anyone to kill one for me. It’s healthier, too.”
What do you hope to accomplish during your time off?
“I haven’t really had a huge amount of time to think about the things I’ve achieved and done, and there’s some things I want to focus on. I’m a patron of a homeless shelter, The Marylebone Project, which temporarily protects women from vulnerable situations. I also want to promote vegetarianism a little bit more.”
What’s the hardest part about touring?
“Probably packing and unpacking. We’re all very taut because we’re constantly lugging suitcases around from hotel room to bus and hotel room to bus. It can be tough, because you lose all sorts of stuff. It’s such a crazy lifestyle, but I’ve chosen it.”
Other than lifting luggage, how do you get in shape?
“I’ll do an hour of cardio: sprints, running, burpies, squat jumps, box jumps. I’m really into high intensity stuff because it keeps you more focused, but boxing is probably my favorite.”
What’s your approach to festival style?
“Rave is my theme this year. I thought I’d rebel against the whole hippie thing. Hunter just started making these sick new rain coats ($450; us.hunterboots.com) that I’m really into.”
You’re a proud member of Taylor Swift’s squad, and girl gangs in general are getting more attention for being unapologetically feminist. What makes these friendships so important?
“My friendships are everything to me. I have some of the most powerful women in the music industry working for me. It’s a man’s business, but look where we are: We’re playing the main stage tonight at Coachella. That’s a testimony to how things are changing. Personally, I call myself a feminist because I believe in equal rights between the sexes. It’s very rare that I feel in any way lesser because I’m female. There are things that are obviously misogynistic in the music industry, in terms of what women can write about and what men can write about and what the reaction is. For example, I wrote “On My Mind” about a one-night stand, and yet, if a man does it, it’s fine. That pissed me off. But I wrote it, and it was accepted. So I’m always fighting for it. I think it’s important for women to be physically strong, too.”
Speaking of, you recently partnered with Pantene for their “Strong Is Beautiful” campaign. When do you feel the strongest?
“On stage. I feel like I’m in an amazing position. You have to go up there and accept that you’re up there for a reason and kill it.”
On teaching herself guitar by listening to her favorite performers: “I loved Pearl Jam…and of course, Björk, my all time hero. [But] It wasn’t like I was going to become a famous singer—that didn’t ever seem like a reality or an option.”
On being a star: “I don’t feel like I’m a very good pop star. I can be painfully shy, and I don’t really talk much between songs. I don’t feel like I’m a natural performer.”
Ellie Goulding isn’t the perfect pop star and she’s totally fine with that. Read below:
It’s the perfect combination for any performer trying to stay relevant in today’s world of instant gratification: millions of followers on Instagram and Twitter, an enamoring performance at the Grammys and an album that continues to make headlines.
But even amid all of the success, Ellie Goulding joked in a recent press release that she’s “the worst pop star in the world.”
“If we think about the connotations of being a pop star and the things that pop stars are supposed to be, I just think I’m none of them,” the English star told us in a recent phone interview.
“My friends say it, my family says it, even my label says it … they think it’s funny that I make pop music, and I’ve got the potential to be something probably a lot bigger, but I’m very happy where I am.”
She’s spent the past few months promoting 2015’s Delirium, which features the single “On My Mind.” Currently on the North American leg of her Delirium World Tour and planning to hit Verizon Theatre on April 18, the soft-spoken and expressive singer has become known for an icy-cool voice and energetic, electro-pop style.
Her 2010 debut record, Lights, and 2012 follow-up, Halcyon, feature six platinum U.S. singles and helped her to reach millions in album sales. She’s collaborated with the likes of Calvin Harris and Major Lazer, and recently confirmed she will release another tune with Harris later this year.
With all the success, Goulding expresses relief that she’s never had to change who she is as an artist.
“When I signed a record deal, it was very unique in that there were no restrictions on what I could or couldn’t do with production,” she explains. “I had the freedom of not having anyone say what to do or how to sound.”
With an infectious, danceworthy mix, Goulding has found a niche that pairs well with her vocal ability. She says when recording, she spends most of her time making sure her voice is as clear as the music and can be recognized.
“I have a tough voice to deal with. It’s not a secret that my voice is different — everyone knows that. It just means that it’s tough for people because it can be quiet and loud and soft,” says Goulding.
Outside the studio, she can be seen hanging out with some very familiar stars — Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Cara Delevingne, to name a few. When asked about her circle of famous friends, Goulding avoided name-dropping.
“I have friends in and out of the spotlight; I would argue that I have friends in music. It’s a valuable thing to have people who understand what you’re going through as a musician on the road,” Goulding says.
“My assistant, and my best friend in the whole world, is a woman. My backing singers, my makeup artists are women. They just understand because they’ve been with me for the past seven years.”
“I make sure that I surround myself with very strong and motivated women.”