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.

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Stylist Magazine – September 2016

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