Ellie Goulding’s new album opens with the sound of a delirious crowd, recorded on a festival date on the star’s 2016/17 Delirium tour.
Maybe it was Glastonbury, maybe it was Rock In Rio, but the location was not important.
Wherever she was, Goulding was exhausted, tired and unhappy.
“I had just become a robot that was able to walk on stage and perform energetically and wildly,” she says.
“But in fact I was just exhausted, and I don’t remember anything. I was not really able to enjoy anything properly. ”
Her memories are so blurry that she recently wrote to her tour manager to see if he kept copies of his schedule, “so I can at least have a trigger to remember all the places I went “.
“There has been a real short-lived in my life,” she says. “It was all about survival. I didn’t really understand who I was at the time. ”
According to certain measures, Goulding should have been at the top of the world. After surpassing the BBC’s Sound of… list in 2010, his career had become stratospheric. Her debut album Lights hit number one in the UK and the title song went platinum five times in the United States, launching her career there.
She performed at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding reception, surpassed festival bills, earned a Grammy nomination for Love Me Like You Do and made the soundtrack for John’s Christmas announcement. Lewis.
But when it came to recording her third album, Delirium, she felt like she was being pushed in the wrong direction by her management.
She has participated in writing sessions with prominent writers such as Greg Kurstin (Adele, Paul McCartney), Ryan Tedder (Lady Gaga, Beyonce) and Max Martin (all other important pop artists of the past 30 years).
At the time, she said she saw the album “as an experience” in making a “great pop album,” telling NME, “I made a conscious decision that I wanted he is on another level. ”
But deep down, she was still the same bedroom musician who accidentally launched a career by befriending dance producers on MySpace. The brilliant pop sound and tight-fitting suits never felt quite at ease.
“It was like, ‘Okay, so maybe I should suddenly become that ginormous pop star who has dancers and glitter and God knows what else on tour,’ and I really enjoyed playing this role a bit, but I didn’t like wearing these outfits every night and I knew, basically, it wasn’t me. ”
“I had to leave”
Suffering from a form of impostor syndrome, Goulding became disdainful of delirium, even as he became platinum in the UK.
“I think it also prompted other people to cancel the album,” she says. “But looking back, it’s actually a really great pop album. I just think it may not have been an Ellie Goulding album. ”
Over the course of a two-year tour, the singer became more and more disillusioned. She even considered quitting music completely.
“It got to a point where I really had to get away from it all,” she told ITV This Morning last year. “I thought for a second, ‘Maybe I can just go away quietly.’ ”
She took two years in the spotlight, embarking on campaigns for the homeless and climate change while putting music on the back burner.
Along the way, she also fell in love with the art dealer Caspar Jopling, whom she married at York Minster last year.
Unlike their previous high profile relationships with Niall Horan and Ed Sheeran, the couple are not bothered by the tabloids, living in the “incredibly beautiful countryside” of Oxfordshire while Jopling, who is also an international rower, studies for an MBA at the University of Oxford.
During the lockout, Goulding even prepared cakes for charity. She gives us a Zoom guided tour of her kitchen, where each work surface is covered with hotplates and cooling racks, loaded with brownies, flapjacks and muffins.
“These peanut butter cookies are just looking at me,” she laughs. “They pierce my soul. ”
Time spent away from music meant that Goulding “really had a chance to be and to live.” She started to feel more settled on herself and her music; and arranged what she calls jokingly like “a friendly decoupling” with her former managers.
Then, towards the end of 2018, she started working on what would become her fourth album, Brightest Blue.
Deeper and more emotional than anything she has recorded before, he delves into the ruins of the past five years – all of the vulnerabilities and insecurities, the sadness and the drinking and the fall of love he has needed to get to a place of renewal.
It opens, as it should, with these sampled crowd noises and an explanation of Goulding’s prolonged musical absence.
« I feel like I barely live,“She sings on Start. “I’m thinking about a new start / it’s never too late to start again. «
“I mistreated people”
The theme of renewal continues throughout the album – notably on the stirring Love I’m Given, where Goulding begs forgiveness for “the things I did” and “the ones I hurt”.
The lyrics came out of nowhere, and she didn’t really appreciate what she was singing until the end of the song.
“I listened to it again, I said to myself:” Sorry, what have I done yet? What have I done wrong? ”
“But I think I’m referring to how I may not have behaved in a way that I am proud of or mistreated people,” says the singer.
The singer, who has received therapy to deal with anger issues, said the bad attitudes came from her own feelings of inadequacy and stress.
“I think it’s the person I tried to create in order to cope with what I was doing – who, you know, was trying to be a million things at a time and trying to cope with work, then the parallel of the celebrity who ran beside her.
“And now that I’ve managed to sort these things out and almost like eliminating them, I can finally give the right kind of love.”
“And so the song is about the idea that you get the love you give. “
- Ellie Goulding: “I used alcohol to be more interesting”
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Goulding’s newfound confidence can be heard in the experimental arrangements of songs like Wine Drunk and Bleach, and the complex voices and transcendental strings of the title track, Brightest Blue.
The song’s upbeat lyrics were inspired by a trip to a New York gallery last year, where Goulding found herself in a room bathed in soothing blue light.
“I went into this light show and it completely took over. You can feel this heat in it, it’s really strange, ”she says.
“The next day, I went to the studio with my engineer and I said,” Okay, I really want to write on this brightest blue I have, “and the song sort of came out.
“And the first time I heard it [finished] with the ropes and everything, I just cried and I don’t do that. I don’t get emotional with my own music like that – but this song sounds like a fresh start. ”
Goulding is so confident in the new music that she divided the album into two “sides” – the first 13 tracks are intimate songs, largely self-written that expose her fragility.
The flip side, nicknamed “Eg.0”, presents a more confident and rebellious alter-ego, with a series of disturbing collaborations with Lauv, Swae Lee and the late Juice WRLD.
But she insists that these latest songs – all already released – were not only nailed down to increase sales.
“I can’t just deny them and pretend they don’t exist,” she says, “and it’s important for me to show off my profession as a pop writer.
“You know, I can write big bloody pop songs and sing them pretty well too. ”
“It’s not necessarily who I am as an artist, so I would say that Brightest Blue is much more a reflection of my indulgences with classical music and the layering of cargoes of voices on top of each other. ”
Initial reviews suggest that the album will re-establish Goulding as one of the best stars in British pop. The freelancer called him “best in his career,” while The Line Of Best Fit said the first songs, in particular, featured the 33-year-old “at home, the most honest and the most sincere “.
“I’m happy to be recognized as a musician and songwriter because that’s what I have always been,” says the singer.
“So it’s really nice at this point to feel like I’m stepping out of what was really chaotic [period] to be known as a celebrity to this day, to be simply known as a musician.
“It’s just different. One has the impression that there is no obsession with … things that no longer really matter. ”
Brightest Blue is now available on Polydor.
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