Ellie Goulding

The UK’s brightest young star talks about her dark heart with Sharon O’Connell

Music feature

With a BBC Sound of 2010 award and Brit Critic’s Choice trophy on her mantelpiece, the future looks very bright indeed for 23-year-old disco-pop ingénue Ellie Goulding. Her debut album, the electro-pop delight that is Lights, is gripping not just because of its musicality but also because of the sweet sadness and vulnerability at its core. You’d never guess it, but the Welsh singer-songwriter has her demons.

You’ve produced a very sophisticated album…
In a sense I feel like I’m a lot older than I am. I feel like I had a very adult perception from a young age and that I hurt a lot earlier than most people. I think it was to do with my childhood. My parents divorced when I was five, but I was just young enough then to not be too aware of it. I always felt like the odd one out and I shared my room with my two sisters. It was awful – I still can’t get used to being alone. So, it’s not like I had a really traumatic childhood, but it certainly wasn’t comfy.

Do you look at those experiences as issues to be worked through, or as raw material for your songs?
I feel like I have lots of things to write about. A lot of pain and sadness comes through when I sing, but when I first think of something it can go so deep it’s like my brain is a universe and that thought can spiral. I’m scared of the dark, but I find that if I keep the lights on, it stops my thoughts spiralling out of control. When I get into a spiral, I start to over-think everything and can start worrying about my health. Even when I was very young I thought my hair was falling out. My mum thought I was crazy.

Blimey. But if it gives you creative material then it’s not all bad…
It works both ways, I guess. Because I really think a lot about my songs, I think about what I put into them and if I didn’t have that, then I really don’t know what I’d be working at. I think that’s why my music is so infectious – you can kind of feel the sadness.
Lights is available to buy online.

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