Ellie Goulding's "Lights" was one of the most-played (and most enjoyable) songs of Summer 2012—even though it was first released Stateside in 2011. Now, with her sleeper hit still resting comfortably in the Billboard Top 5, Goulding is prepping to release her second album Halcyon on October 5.
Aside from boasting the eerily romantic "Anything Could Happen," Halcyon stands out from nearly every pop record released this year by featuring no collaboration tracks with other artists. That's an especially audacious choice given that Goulding is sitting on tracks she recorded with EDM supergroup Swedish House Mafia and boyfriend/dubstep poster boy Skrillex—clearly, she's not afraid to stand on her own as an artist.
Last Friday, Fuse had the opportunity of chatting with the British songstress when she was in New York for an Artist#Talk event hosted by ArjanWrites.com. Before her live-streamed Q&A session, I had the pleasure of sitting with Goulding for a one-on-one talk during which she gabbed about doing her own stunts on video shoots, Incubus wanting to collaborate with her and why she "had [the Skrillex haircut] bloody first."
When "Lights" came out in the States it didn’t catch on at first. Did you mentally move on or did you always think it just needed more time?
Everyone felt we needed to give "Lights" time. But to be honest, it wasn’t my priority to go and break America. I was just happy to be touring as a UK artist doing festivals and doing shows. Every tour I did sold out, so I was happy. My biggest fans bought the record and nothing else bothered me. When "Lights" did start getting big, it had been so long since I’d written the song that I just wasn’t as excited as perhaps one would otherwise be if their song hit No. 1 in America. It’s a huge deal but the song is so old to me and I’ve heard it a million times. So the impact was perhaps not as big as it could have been for me. I don’t make music to score No. 1 hits. I make pop music, yes, but a lot of people make pop music and never hit the charts. I listen to a lot of music, everything from Björk to Aphex Twin to System of a Down. I search for the pop in everything. I find the poppiest songs even in a folk band. I always end up being the DJ in a car or at my friend’s house when I'm going through my phone.
Your "Anything Could Happen" video [which Fuse filmed a behind-the-scenes clip about] is surreal and strangely romantic. Was there a specific idea behind it?
It’s just two worlds. Like, anything could happen when you die and anything could happen when you take a chance and meet someone. I wanted to create a very surreal world. It’s quite a serious thing with the car crash, though, and some people have told me they find it hard to watch.
You did your own stunts on that shoot, including the part where you're hovering over that rocky beach. Was that scary?
The car crash had to be dummies because it was too dangerous, but the jolts [in the car] were me. I was scared of hovering in the harness because the things holding me to the crane were like this thin [she indicates a rope with the thickness of a baby carrot]. I was like, "If this breaks, I’m f--ked." That was scary.
Within the last year Ke$ha and Avril Lavigne have gotten Skrillex-esque haircuts [Goulding briefly buried her face in her hands at that point]. What do you think about that hairstyle's sudden rise in popularity?
First off, I’ve had this haircut a long time. Let’s just put that out there. I’ve had this since I was 19. I’ve had my lip pierced since I was 14 and I had all my piercings since I was 15. It annoys me when people say I got the Skrillex haircut, because I’m like, "Dude, I’ve had this for ages." Right now it’s one of those phases. It’s a 2012 haircut. It’s like my mom—who is a normal woman—had a Mohawk once because it was popular that year. My dad had one, too. This is one of those haircuts that’s now. At one point it was the bob, now it’s this. It’s futuristic. But you can say that I had it bloody first.
Speaking of Skrillex, do you get to see him often? You're both so busy, not to mention you hail from different continents.
We don’t see each other very often, but when we do, it’s awesome. He’s my best friend. Even though we don’t see each other much, when we cross paths, we make it work.
Your music is a mix of folk, electronic and pop. Have your tastes always been so diverse?
I was very much into pop when I was young. And my mom and uncle were into dance music, so I was always fascinated by club music. They would make these really great mixtapes with stuff off of Pete Tong and Radio 1 [BBC DJ and a BBC radio station]. Because we lived in the middle of nowhere we were always driving somewhere, so the radio was always on. Then as I got older, I got into what you might say was more sophisticated stuff. I listened to classical music and when I was 11 I started playing clarinet for a few years. Then when I got bored with that I started playing guitar. And then I started loving rock bands like Pearl Jam, who are my favorite band in the whole world, and Incubus, who I also love. It's so funny because I met them recently and the guitarist, Mike Einziger, was like, "We should do something together." He was so keen to set it up. He’s so lovely. I will if I get a chance.
On your debut album you covered Elton John's "Your Song" very nicely. Any other artists you'd like to cover?
I get one or two tweets a week where people say I should cover Coheed and Cambria, they say I sound like them. Or Justin Bieber, which is quite a bit different. But I should really stop doing covers and collaborations for a bit. This whole new album is just me.
Ellie Goulding - "Anything Could Happen"