Ellinor Olovsdotter, better known as the Swedish singer-songwriter Elliphant, is inching toward a U.S. breakthrough two-and-a-half years after signing to the native record label TEN Music Group. Her self-titled debut EP and debut album A Good Idea were only released overseas, but new EP One More, due out worldwide on Tuesday (Oct. 14), includes a hypnotic title track featuring the Danish singer-songwriter MØ. Helmed by Lorde producer Joel Little, “One More” has collected 360,000 YouTube views in three weeks.
The collaborative single follows “Only Getting Younger,” an unhinged EDM single with Skrillex released earlier this year, and arrives in the middle of a U.S. tour supporting Charli XCX, another European artist who slowly but surely built an American fan base. Elliphant also recently moved from Sweden to Los Angeles, where she’s worked with producers like Dave Sitek and Billboard; her One More EP is being co-released by Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe Records.
So who, exactly, is Elliphant? A free spirit, for one, and someone that has gleefully stumbled into a promising pop career. Here are five wild declarations the singer-songwriter made during a stop by Billboard’s New York offices last month:
1. She never thought she would be making music. “It’s just coincidences that made me into this — a friend who needed help,” Elliphant tells Billboard. In 2011, the Sweden native was at a party in Paris when producer Tim Deneve started putting some of his beats on the stereo. “I was shit-faced and I just sang a little bit,” she explains. “He was like, ‘You can sing!’ I was like, ‘Ah fuck that.’ He needed someone that could sing and help him with his demos. We realized already after the first two weeks [of working] that this probably was something else, and it kind of burned a fire.”
At that point, Olovsdotter had spent a decade in the restaurant industry, working in kitchens and as a server. Six months after that party, Elliphant had signed to TEN Music Group. “The whole thing is super random, and I think that’s my secret weapon in this: I don’t have anything to lose,” she says. “I can be as honest and proud and as wild as I want to be, and I’m never going to be politically correct.”
2. She relaxes with heavy drinking and HBO shows. “I don’t have any meditation or yoga or listen to music in my bed — no, nothing like that,” Elliphant says. “I go out, I drink with my friends, I get shit-faced. That’s my release. And I watch television.”
Elliphant counts “Fargo,” “The Sopranos” and “True Detective” as some of her favorites. “One that I really like is ‘Deadwood,’ but it’s really intense,” she notes. “I need to get downloads with Swedish subtitles. You don’t hear the cowboy language — you don’t hear what they’re saying. It’s the same with ‘True Detective.’ I have problems sometimes hearing what he [Matthew McConaughey] says. He’s an amazing actor, but I never really hear what he says.”
3. She’s afraid of the dark. “I don’t trust the darkness, to the point where I cannot be in a dark room,” says Elliphant. She sometimes sleeps with the lights on, although she admits, “I have a weird vision that it’s something I need to be careful with, so I don’t burn inside. I love to fall asleep with candles, to have fire around me when I go to sleep. Fire is very important for me.”
4. She has chemistry with older men. “Older, successful men, but not at all in a sexual way, very much in an uncle-y way,” she clarifies. “I’ve always been curious about it — how much of a psychopath did you need to be to get here? I have a really nice, easygoing process with the top-notch guys, with this project and when I was doing restaurant work before. It’s not an ass-licking thing, it’s also respect. I feel like I have something to learn from them. And obviously, I really like older successful women also.
“I think some people get spiritually killed within this industry, but I’m actually really interested in it,” she continues. “I want to be a part of it later, if I’m not super tired with this shit. If not, I’ll probably be a manager or a record label owner or something myself in the future. I think I always have something to learn, and I always have to learn from people.”
5. She admires Charli XCX’s winding path to stardom. “I think she made it is the way to do it,” says Elliphant, who did not know Charli very well before the pair started touring together. “People that go overnight into one-hit wonders and go overnight into fame, I’ve never seen that really work out so much. For me, I’m a 29-year-old, and I really had a life before this. I was traveling all over the world. This came as a fucking banana in my life, and I just slide on it. Even if she’s much younger than me, I just feel like she’s it.”