What's love got to do with it?

22:15, May 15 2014
 British singer Ellie Goulding
COMING TO PLAY: British singer Ellie Goulding

British singer Ellie Goulding tells Vicki Anderson that she's done with heartbreak and her next album might be about science, nature and David Attenborough.

Science, nature, the beginning of the universe and David Attenborough.

British singer Ellie Goulding doesn't "do" heartbreak now.

"Obviously I've written a lot of love songs, songs about relationships and break-ups. I've written about that quite a lot," she sighs.

"I feel like my next album is going to be about something completely different again. At the moment I'm really into science and nature. I'm reading about the beginning of the universe and also watching documentaries and loving David Attenborough."

Ahead of our interview a disembodied unidentified British male reiterates "no questions about her love life or any headline-related questions".


Goulding's previous relationships include dalliances with dubstep DJ and producer Skrillex, War Horse actor Jeremy Irvine, Radio 1 presenter Craig James, and briefly, as he put it, "it was going on" with singer Ed Sheeran.

While Goulding is presumably putting down an engrossing book on the big bang theory, the prevailing cosmological model for the early development of the universe, I search the headlines. 'Ellie Goulding spotted smooching some guy in the water', apparently while relaxing on Justin Beiber's boat, claims Perez Hilton; 'Ellie wows in another midriff-bearing outfit' boasts the Daily Mail; while another celebrity website is focused on a provocative shot of Goulding's "side boob".

"I'm steering away from writing about people really," Goulding says thoughtfully when we are connected. "Although people will probably end up on the album."

Raised on a Hereford council estate, the 26-year-old taught herself to sing "posh", left drama school and signed to Polydor in 2009 and released her debut album Lights in 2010.

After follow-up album Halcyon, branded "indietronica", arrived in 2012, Goulding could decorate her west London flat with awards. A critics' choice Brit Award, a massive chrome Q (best solo artist at the Q awards, beating David Bowie) and a bigger chrome A (best musician at the Attitude awards).

At the 2014 Billboard Music Awards on May 18, Goulding is a finalist in the 2014 Milestone Award alongside OneRepublic and Carrie Underwood. Lorde will perform at the event in Las Vegas.

"Awards are always a nice bonus but it's not why I do this. It's a nice acknowledgement. If I get nominated I find it flattering."

Science and David Attenborough seem unlikely subject matter when compared to Goulding's previous work - the tropical synths of Goodness Gracious, recent hit Anything Could Happen (absolutely zero reference to the Clean) and her ubiquitous club banger Burn, where Goulding triumphantly belts out the word "burn!" 64 times in a four-minute dance track.

Has science crept in now that she's out of love?

"I write about where I come from, the village I grew up in, I'm inspired by films, books, poetry, human behaviour," Goulding says exuberantly.

"I might just see something crazy or have a conversation, usually it's spurred on by conversations I have with my friends. My friends are really intelligent and they talk about stuff, the situation that we're in, and that's very inspiring so I write about that."

Then there's the ballad, introduced at her live gigs as being about her absent father, I Know You Care.

Arthur Goulding left the family when Ellie was 5. "It's denial, really," she has previously said, meaning the title, I Know You Care, "because I don't think he does".

He left around the age she discovered she could sing.

"When I was 4 or 5, I used to sing around the house. I used to copy things on the radio. At one point I sang something so well that my mum got quite worked up."

It's hard to believe now that Goulding has sold more than 15 million singles and four million album sales worldwide, but at school she was second choice for the main singing roles.

"I knew I had a strong voice but at school I had parts to sing, but I was never the main part," Goulding laughs.

"My voice was powerful but there wasn't anything special about it. The other girl used to get all the parts, I used to get quite bitter about it."

This year she's supported Bruno Mars in the United States, sung her smash hit Burn on The Ellen Show and joined Katy Perry on stage to sing Perry's hit Roar at the Hollywood Bowl.

Fresh from sold-out shows in Britain, next month she performs three New Zealand shows as part of an Australasian tour.

"I'm bringing quite a big band, I've got my singers with me this time. We play everything live, a combination of my old and new stuff, upbeat and ballads, so it will be quite balanced.

"I love New Zealand. I haven't made any plans while I am there, I will just do something spontaneously."

Attenborough once said: "We are a plague on the Earth."

Perhaps Goulding could sample and remix it?


Ellie Goulding, all ages shows, with support from Broods, at Vector Arena, Auckland on June 7, Ticketmaster; TSB Bank Arena, Wellington, on June 9 and CBS Canterbury Arena on June 11. Tickets $73.65 plus booking fee from Ticketek.co.nz, 0800 842 538.

See elliegoulding.com.