UK singer Ellie Goulding talks new collaborations with Drake and Iggy Azalea, addresses rumors of a past relationship. UK singer Ellie Goulding talks new collaborations with Drake and Iggy Azalea, addresses rumors of a past relationship.

Exclusive: Ellie Goulding Talks Subliminal Songs - 'People Shouldn't Believe What They’ve Been Hearing'

It’s been one hell of a ride for Ellie Goulding.

Five years deep in the spotlight, the British singer/songwriter has climbed up the pop charts and become a permanent household name. With two studio albums (and one re-loaded project) done, Ellie’s plans for 2015 include working on her third studio album, arriving at the end of next year.

While she’s taking time off from touring, she’s sliding in one more show for BACARDI Triangle—a three-day event alongside Calvin Harris and Kendrick Lamar, located in the Bermuda Triangle. Sounds scary to most, but for a starlet like Goulding who’s weathered the rumor mill storm, a trip to the unknown is easy.

She talks to VIBE and finally puts the rumors to rest about a certain someone (she didn’t mention any names, but you might have an idea), discusses a possible collaboration with Drake and tracks with Iggy Azalea and Major Lazer on the horizon. —Kathy Iandoli

VIBE: So you go on Twitter and you’re like, “I’m taking a break from performing, guys! Bye!” and now you’re doing the BACARDI Triangle Event. What’s good?
Ellie Goulding: I mean. Yeah. There’s like a few things. This one is one of those things—it’s just so cool, you know? If it was something average... but this is just way above average. It just sounds so awesome and it combines a lot of my favorite things: alcohol, Calvin [Harris], Kendrick [Lamar]. What could be better?

So after that, are you on performance hiatus and back in the studio?
Pretty much, because I really need to get locked down. I just haven’t been able to settle myself, settle my head into my things. The only things I’ve really done are I did something for Iggy about a month ago, I did something for Drake this weekend.

Excuse me!

Well after he sampled you, it’s only right.
Well I don't know if he’s going to like it, but I hope so. He knows I was doing it.

So wait, you said Drake and Iggy?
Yeah. Iggy before, then Drake, and I have this Major Lazer single at some point. So yeah, basically anything that’s not my own stuff right now because I’m not ready for myself to write new stuff. I’m going to say I’m not ready for people to hear new stuff, but yeah. I reckon that by the end of next year I’ll have a record that I’m happy with, because I’ve got a lot more free time to just get in the studio. Where as before, if you think about it, I was touring from January on pretty much. It was Europe in the UK, then it was the States for two months, then it was Australia for two weeks, then it was Asia for two weeks. So it’s just been nuts, plus all the festivals! I’m just like... I can say that I’m just tired. I’m looking forward to slugging out in my comfy clothes in the studio every day.

It’s kind of cool, because technically it’s your third album, but it’s kind of your fourth album with Halcyon Days. With all of those projects, you were in some sort of a transition. Whether it’s personal life or whatever, there was just a transition. Now you’re in love, you’re at the top of the game and you’re just able to chill and record. How do you think it’s going to affect your output?
Because I have things to write about that were completely away from what I usually do about love and about relationships and I have so much stuff. I was like, I want to write about just the stuff I’ve seen, I want to write about nature, I want to write about being really inspired by Kate Bush more recently. I could think of a million things I wanted to write about, and now I’m realizing that something big happened. Well not big, but things keep kind of creeping up that make me say, “I’ve got to get myself in check to write about it.” That’s only been in the past year that I’m like, “I need to write about this stuff!” I feel like I’ve written down things and I’ve kind of got an idea of what’s going to go down, but then there’s a few things that I will be writing about that I need to write about.

You’ve done some amazing things. You’ve done community outreach and you were doing some work for charities over the last few years. You went to Africa too I believe, right?

Does that translate into the need to want to write about this stuff or write about certain things that spark an interest in you?
Yeah you know, there’s still things to do this year for me. There’s still experiences to be had and stuff that I think is really going to stay with me and make me want to write about. But regardless of how happy I am and how stable I feel in my life, I always have to go back to this place—a dark place—to write. It’s very different from how I am with my mood and all that stuff. It’s so different, and I guess like, your personality or the way you are doesn’t necessarily reflect what you’re going to write about. Like, I saw Kate Bush the other night and she was just absolutely phenomenal. Between songs, she’s just a sweet woman! Like, her sons were on stage performing with her and she’s just brilliant and got a really good sense of humor, and her songs are just so deep and just so other-worldly. It’s just like she turns into a different person. So I know I’ve got that to kind of rely on when I get back in the studio so, we’ll see. But there’s a few things I definitely need to iron out and definitely need to rectify. Well, not rectify but I definitely need to say something about.

Well, you’ve been called the young Kate Bush, so I think it’s pretty cool.
Ah man, I'm nowhere near her brilliance. No one ever will be I think.

So when you record, sometimes you’ll reference past relationships. How does one handle when they’re rumored to be the subject matter of another person’s songs?
Well, there’s a person who keeps saying we dated, but we didn’t. Sometimes I just let things go because it’s for the best. This is why it’s good to have such a good sense of humor, because I hear shit about me all the time and it just makes me burst out laughing. To be honest, I don’t think that people should believe what they’ve been hearing. Because I’ve been seeing stuff recently in the last week. Well, supposedly. That’s what I’ve heard, but I’ve never heard it. What I’m saying is, I’ve read stuff about me recently that is NOT true. You really shouldn’t believe what you read. Trust me, trust me. Think of a world where you’re just doing your thing and then all of a sudden, you’re in a newspaper or you’re on a blog or you’re everywhere being talked about, about something that isn’t true, and the only way you can deal with it is by not saying anything. Because why would you add fuel to the fire? The only thing you can do is just go with it the way you see fit, and to me, that is writing songs. Does that make sense?

No, it makes perfect sense. You just kind of roll your eyes at it and move past it.
I do! As much as I roll my eyes, they’re going to get stuck in the back of my head! My music has been successful, my career has been successful and I don’t need anything else. Only that needs to really justify where I am right now, you know? It’s not like my music didn’t do well so I have to make up for it with other stuff. Like, it did do well and that album, that’s coming. So anything else isn’t real to me. It isn’t real life. Real life is my music, and that’s the most important thing. And real life is my friends and my boyfriend and my family, so how could anything possibly bother me?

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J.Cole, Teyana Taylor And Other Snubs Of The 2019 Grammy Nominations

It's that time of year again when inner circles and strangers on the Internet debate who's up for a gramophone.

On Friday (Dec. 7), the nominees for 2019's Grammy Awards (Feb. 10) were announced to a span of hot takes, early but informed predictions, and a wall of confusion as to why certain artists were overlooked. While some entertainers excitedly received the good news (Cardi B discovered her nods while leaving a courthouse), others were left scratching their heads.

Here's a look at why those who were snubbed by the Recording Academy deserved to be nominated.

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Anderson .Paak, Tierra Whack And More Praise Female Artists At 2018 Billboard Women In Music

Some of music's biggest stars attended Billboard's annual Women in Music event on Thursday night (Dec. 6).

Pop star Ariana Grande was awarded with the night's highest honor, "Woman Of The Year," while SZA, Janelle Monae, Cyndi Lauper, Hayley Kiyoko, and Kacey Musgraves were awarded with subsequent prestigious honors.

VIBE got a chance to speak to some of the musicians in attendance on the carpet, including hip-hoppers Anderson .Paak and Tierra Whack, the Janelle Monae-cosigned St. Beauty, and Massah David, the co-founder of the creative agency, MVD Inc..

When prompted about some of their favorite bodies of work by female artists this year, a resounding amount of musicians stated Teyana Taylor's K.T.S.E and Tierra Whack's Whack World as some of their personal picks.

The 23-year-old MC and first-time Grammy nominee confirmed with VIBE she's working on "something really special" with fellow Philadelphian and friend Meek Mill. She also stated that while the accolades for her work have been exciting, she's more excited for society to stop gendering dope artists, especially in the hip-hop game.

"I hope that [labeling through gender] ends soon," she said. "I know, technically, rap is a male-dominated industry, but, like, I’m better than all of ‘em! [laughs] It is what it is! I don’t even count gender or color, it’s just whoever’s got it."

What are some members of the music industry looking forward to in 2019? More women in high-profile positions and more chances for women in general.

"Hopefully just having more opportunities for women in different spaces in music, whether it’s radio, behind-the-scenes, engineering, actually making the music," said David. "I’m just hoping we get to see women in more executive roles."

Watch our recap video above.

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Pusha-T Pushes The Culture Forward Through Mentorship With New Discovery Platform

“I actually told [my manager] Shiv, I’m not doing any more interviews,” Pusha-T ironically admits to VIBE in an exclusive sit-down.

It seems about right since the rapper has endured a relentless news cycle this year, both for promoting his highly-acclaimed album DAYTONA and his feud with Drake.

He’s perched upright in a swivel chair in the studio of Lower Manhattan’s Electric Lady Sound Studios, a venue that easily has one of the richest musical histories – built by Jimi Hendrix in 1970 and recorded legends like Stevie Wonder and David Bowie.

Interestingly enough, Pusha has forfeited his previous promise on a particularly muggy day in November, to talk not about his multiple wins, but his latest project with 1800 Tequila. The G.O.O.D. Music show-runner has partnered with the brand to launch “1800 Seconds,” a new artist discovery platform that highlights unsigned artists from around the country. For its inaugural project, Pusha served as a mentor to 10 artists on the rise – Sam Austins (Detroit), T Got Bank (Brooklyn), Cartel Count Up (Hampton, VA), Hass Irv (Harlem), Nita Jonez (Houston), Trevor Lainer (Wilmington, NC) Mona Lyse (Detroit), Don Zio P (Middletown, CT), Tyler Thomas (Los Angeles), and Ant White (Philadelphia) – to curate a compilation album comprised of 10 new tracks.

Pusha personally selected each artist and challenged them to write and record a new track that showcases why they are the premier talent to watch. He sat down with each artist for more than one hour over the span of a week, observing little quirks, analyzing their sound and assessing their strengths. As he runs us through the album’s tracklist, he smiles, prefacing each single with an anecdote about the artist. Tyler Thomas is a notable favorite amongst the group and matches Pusha’s discipline in writing; Harlem’s Hass Irv is a verified sneaker dealer who boasts some of the most sought-after Jordans in his collection; Detroit’s Mona Lyse is a bonafide 90’s rap connoisseur. Push notes that she can pump out facts on artists like Notorious B.I.G. with such precision that even he has to take notes.

While this opportunity probably comes as a chance in a lifetime for the handful of artists, whose backgrounds, ages, and identities range tremendously, it seems to be just as monumental for Pusha-T.

This project should be seen as a win for hip-hop as it merges the gap between veterans and rookies, which in the past, has been broadened by various riffs between the two parties. Some of the seasoned titans may not understand the new wave, but Pusha-T alludes to mentorship and collaborations as a thing of the future and likely the next phase of his career. “This is part of my calling and how I’m supposed to mature in the music business,” he says. “I think I have my hand on the pulse on what’s going on musically out here… People will listen to my raps and listen to my music and be like, ‘aww man, he ain’t going to rock with me.’ And really, I do. I enjoy it.”

In celebration of the album’s release, all 10 of the selected artists will perform their recorded tracks, followed by a performance by Pusha himself in New York City's Sony Hall on Dec. 5. The compilation album will officially debut on Dec. 7.

In VIBE’s exclusive interview with Pusha-T, we discuss 1800 Tequila’s brave courageous new school of young rappers, the importance of paying it forward, and retirement.

The first 1800 Seconds compilation album is available now. Listen to it and check out our interview with Pusha-T below. 


VIBE: Can you give us a rundown on how you selected these artists?

Pusha-T: It was a vetting process between us and 1800. I would look for guys that were a strong lyricist, guys who're into melody. Just, you know, small followings, but I thought they were dope.

That’s interesting because in this era of music people focus on the people with the massive followings on social media.

You know, you got to think, if it’s too big then it’s not really special to see it in this process.

Very true. Your music has pretty much always stayed true to your sound and brand. So did you find it challenging to work with this pool of new artists that follow so many of the new trends in hip-hop?

Nah, I think that this is part of my calling and how I’m supposed to mature in the music business. Man, I’m performing in front of 18 to 45 [years old] every night, and it trips me out to see the people get hype over “Grinding” and the people that just know me since 2013. But you know, with that being said, I think I have my hand on the pulse, on what’s going on musically out here. I’ve learned how to enjoy it. I enjoy all types of rap. People will listen to my raps and listen to my music and be like, “aww man, he ain’t going to rock with me.” And really, I do. I enjoy it. I mean, how could you not? To be in it like this, how could I not find appreciation in everything that’s going on?

The way you answered my last question seems like you’re considering retirement or at least exploring what that looks like. But you’re right in the thick of it all, so that’s very interesting.

Yeah, man. I don’t think lyric-driven hip-hop goes out of style. I think that stays around forever, and then I feel like you retire when you’re out of the mix of it and out of the culture and lifestyle of it. When you start not caring about hip-hop aesthetics and just being first and competing, then you supposed to be like, alright cool, I’m out. But until then, I still know what’s fresh to put on and so on and so forth.

One of the biggest differences between vets and new artists is the communities they live in and the things they witness as youth. Did you see some of those differences reflected in their music while working with them?

Yeah. As a veteran artist, I was speaking about what was going on outside at that very moment. I think the newer artists are more introspective. They’re more about themselves and trying to convey messages from their heart. They’re trying to sell you on them, whether they want to party [or] they’re heartbroken. It’s not so much looking out the project window and saying what’s going on. It’s like, I don’t even want to go outside. I’m in my room, and y'all don’t even know I’m writing and I’m going to show y’all one day. It’s all about that.

That seems kind of overwhelming or can come on too strong at times, no?

Nah. As a writer, you dial in on things… You know when somebody says something in a song like, “oh you meant that.” Or you were so intricate with the description of that, you had to get that off. So that’s a score as a writer, me listening to somebody like that. That’s a good thing.

What’s the greatest lesson that you have given this new generation?

I think the greatest lesson for me and the position I’m in right now is opening up these corporate opportunities. They do everything themselves. They’re shooting their own videos, recording themselves. They’re writing, producing, and recording themselves. They’re damn near engineering. One of the girls, [Nita Jonez], she was like, “Yeah, I just be knocking little stuff out while I’m at the crib.” I’m like, I don’t even do that. I don’t even know how to finesse all that. But they’re so self-sufficient. Only thing I could try to do is just package it for them the best way possible. They all got dreams of being huge. A lot of that has to do with the art and what they’re doing, but how it’s presented [as well]. And that’s what I try to show 'em and teach and help 'em with.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from them?

Man, there are just absolutely no rules. No rules at all. They’re such free spirits. They don’t even record how I do. I come in a with a new notepad, pen, and I write like that. I have to see it. It helps me memorize it. They come in and run straight to the mic and just be who they are. And they find themselves through it all. Not everybody; there were some other writers in there, like, Hass and Tyler. Tyler [is] so good at it. It comes out just that precise or damn near close. And then he’ll go and chop it up, make it right a little bit. But they just have that unorthodox attack in the studio. I’m more like, I want to sit down, chill… I don’t even like being in the studio that long. I probably write at home, then I’ll come here and figure out the rest. It’s a very formatted type of thing. And some of the spontaneity and some of the energy probably gets lost in my way because they come in and vibe immediately. Things that may just happen on the spur of the moment, they catch it. When I come in, it’s just all there. Either I’ve written it already or I’m writing it and that’s just what it is. I may lose an adlib. I may lose something that’s quirky in a song that just happens that probably won’t happen for me, but they’ll catch every time.

Do you think there’s a way to balance that incorporates both of those worlds – yours and theirs – to make that ideal way to create?

Well, I think it would have to come from practice. Certain people learn a certain way. Honestly, there’s no difference in what they do than what Jay-Z does. He just practices so much that way that his mind works and processes things really fast. And you know, he’s just really confident in not seeing anything and catching the vibe and going at it. Theirs is just unorthodox. It’s the same thing though. And then as they do it more and better, it’ll get more concise.

In any field, with mentorship there’s only so much you’re willing to take from your mentor before you’re ready to do it yourself. Who were your mentors, and what were some of the things you did and didn’t take from them?

From afar, it would have to be Teddy Riley. Him moving to the area, Virginia Beach, where I’m from – him alone was like wait a minute, music is a real thing. Oh man, there’s a Ferrari down my street. I can’t believe this. I’m seeing Jay-Z’s here. Michael Jackson’s in Virginia Beach for what? You know, shooting a video, all of these things that happened, let me know that this is a real thing and not just for the people on TV. Now in arm’s reach, you got Pharrell and Chad. You got my brother [Malice] who taught me how to write. He actually taught me that MC Hammer wasn’t a rapper when I thought he was. Pharrell literally taught me how to count bars. It’s just been so many lessons between those guys; they taught me everything. They taught me to look at a song, try to see it the whole way through and not just get up and write for the sake of writing. Pharrell always told me, “you may not have something to say today.” Like if I get stuck, “It’s fine. You’ll get to it. We’ll find it another day.” Never force it though.

There’s a huge divide in the genre as far as rookies vs. vets go. This project is so good because it’s paying it forward. Do you think that’s both a necessary and important part of the culture that needs to be restored?

Yes. Well, no. You know what? It’s not for everyone. It’s not for everybody to do. Some people are so stuck in their heyday that they can’t even see what’s going on outside. Everybody that I’ve ever liked in rap music, I probably have had a longer career than all of them. Like whoever I thought was the greatest in my time, I be like, bro, wait a minute they only have five years, five albums? What? When I really think about it, it’s because they all got stuck in their heyday. And that was a hell of a time. The greatest of all great raps, but you know, they couldn’t see any further than that. And when something new came up, they was like, “Yeah, but y’all don’t like us because we…” They just start getting washed and their jeans start fitting differently and they pick the wrong size. They just get stuck in that time period and before you know it, it’s skinny jean time and they got on fucking size 42s and they weigh a buck 50 and they look crazy. And it’s wrong because you get stuck because you don’t embrace and try to help and learn from what’s coming in next. And you should. This is music. You can never stop learning. You have to continuously learn with this forever. It’s just what it is until you just say I’m done. It’s not for everybody man. If you’re not trying to push hip-hop forward, then no, you’re going to be washed and you should be. You should be. I think it’s corny. This is the youngest genre of music. The youngest, most powerful, most influential. We should not be at a point where the elders are knocking the rookies. It’s corny. That’s an effort to stunt the growth of the genre. And that is just totally wrong, 100 percent.

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