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?