Ellie Goulding Is Ready to Move Beyond 'Being This Artist That People Sort Of, Kind Of Know'
For Ellie Goulding's third album, planned for release later this year on Cherrytree/Interscope, she found a second home in super-producer Max Martin's Los Angeles compound-slash-studio where Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra once lived. "Even when I wasn't scheduled to be recording, I'd find myself there hanging out with everyone," says the 28-year-old. "I ended up going back even when the studio was full of other people, like The Weeknd. I was like, 'Hi, it's me again!' "
It was a far cry from "only listening to classical music" when working on her second album, 2012's Halcyon. (That record and her debut, 2010's Lights, have sold more than 6 million albums combined.) The British singer-songwriter was strategic in partnering with Martin and producer Greg Kurtsin in order to explore a new sound. "I embraced being someone who loves pop music and has her own take on it," she says. "Max understands I'm in this halfway point of going from being this artist that people sort of, kind of know. He sees something in me that maybe not everyone has seen."
Goulding herself has a tough time defining the resulting music. "I call it 'sub-Ibiza,' where it's a kind of rave but it's a euphoric, ethereal kind of thing," she says. "I laugh at myself when I say stuff like that because it's like, 'Really?' But when you hear the album, it makes sense."
Although Goulding is in a relationship with Dougie Poysner, bassist for Britpop rock band McFly, and has committed to a healthy new vegetarian diet, she's not merely singing her contentment. "I'm still the emotional wreck I've always been," she says. "I get obsessed with the idea that people sabotage things that are already perfect." She had hoped to mine new material and "write about the world," but that didn't pan out as she prepped songs back home in the English countryside, where she holed up before heading to Los Angeles. "I resigned myself to the fact that I can't help writing love songs," she says. "It's the one thing everyone wants. What else would I write about?"
Listen to music from Ellie Goulding, and more artists from this issue, in the Spotify playlist below:
This story originally appeared in the Sept. 5 issue of Billboard.