June 17, 2024

Ellie Goulding: renzied person in my 20s, but I’m much more confident in my 30s

Ellie Goulding is a contradiction. On the one hand, she’s a double Brit Award winner with 15 million album sales worldwide and the most entrances on the Billboard Hot 100 chart by a female British solo artist this century, thanks to hits like Love Me Like You Do, which hit the No. 1 spot in 70 countries.

With the Grammy Award nomination, the multi-platinum discs and just the 14. 5 million Insta followers thrown in, Ellie has served up the recipe for world domination.

On the other hand, as I find out when I *literally* Zoom into her office at her south London home, she is painfully shy. Ellie enters our call softly spoken and quickly informs me, “I’ve just stopped washing my hair,” as she scrapes back her hair and rubs the arms of her camel-coloured cardigan. Like all conversations right now, we talk about lockdown life, which she’s spending with her husband of eight months Caspar Jopling.

He spends his days in the downstairs of their south London Home, studying for his MBA at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, while she writes music upstairs in her study. She’s also casually self shot her own powerful music video at home – more on that later – which has come as a surprise to her, as shyness is something she’s always dealt with.

“Emotionally lockdown’s not as difficult as I thought it would be, because I’m quite a solitary person,” the 33-year-old reveals. “I used to go out a bit, but not much. I don’t really like going to pubs, I love the idea of it, but I can get quite socially anxious. ”

Many will have preconceived notions of what a popstar of Ellie’s success levels would be like in real life. You might imagine an outgoing extrovert who loves a good time and with a penchant for diva behaviour. But for Ellie, social anxiety has prevented her from playing up to that myth throughout her career.

“My friends know me as the person that will walk into a room and for the first ten minutes be painfully shy and not be able to really talk to anyone. I analyse everything, it can make me overthink social situations that are otherwise very simple. I’m also slightly conscious of people having a preconceived idea of what I might be like. I battle with that. ”

As the second of four children, Ellie, whose full name is Elena Jane Goulding, was always shy. Growing up in rural Kingston, where her father, Arthur, left the family when Ellie was five years old, she first fell in love with music aged nine when she started playing the clarinet. Having learnt to play the guitar at 14, she started writing her own songs while attending Lady Hawkins High School.

“I was looking through some old photos that my sister sent to me the other day from when I was in school, and when I look at old photos, I can see a really shy girl in those photos,” Ellie confides. “I can just tell by my facial expression and my body language that I was really uncomfortable. But I also loved to perform, so I think I have this difficult contradiction where all of me wanted to perform, but I was really self-conscious. ”

The conflict between her extrovert Ellie and introvert Ellie came to the fore when she broke onto the music scene in 2010 with her debut and first No. 1 album, Lights. “When I first started, I really had to have quite a few drinks to push me out onto that stage,” Ellie reveals. “It was easier because I could hide behind this massive guitar that was way too big for me. I was still apologetic and scared of what people would think of me. I think when people say to me, ‘Do you have any regrets? ’ I think I wish I’d been more confident. ”

At this time, her fears around social anxiety were transferred to her music. “I didn’t want everyone to love me and want to be the centre of attention. I couldn’t bear the idea of disappointing someone, or not being funny or good enough. It was the same with my singing. Once I thought more from a perspective that not everyone’s going to like me and not everyone’s going to enjoy my music, but perform for the people that do, that changed everything, because then I would go out on a stage completely unapologetic, strong and just perform and not let anything get in the way! ”

She has worked hard over the years to keep up this confidence, but confides she fears that lockdown may take it back to square one. “I have no idea what I’m going to be like as a performer after this lockdown period because I haven’t really been performing to crowds of people. Somebody said the other day, ‘Could you come into London and sing some songs for a charity that I’m a patron of? ’, and I was just like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t even know if I’m capable of that right now. ’ You have to be in that confidence zone, and I think it’s going to take a bit of building back up. Quarantine has slightly thrown me off that journey, but I’m sure I can pick it up again after. ” She adds, “I think I’ve definitely become more resilient and I’ve spent a long time working on it. ”

Training her brain to react differently and constantly reminding herself, “not to go back to old habits,” may not have been fruitful for Ellie on the public stage, but for the private Ellie, it has worked well in her personal relationships. “When I think about my marriage, it’s a perfect example of it because it’s so mature, we talk things through, and we never argue. If we have differences, we talk them out, we don’t just say, ‘Well, I’m right and you’re wrong and we’ll just agree to differ. ’ We talk about why we might disagree on something. ” She married Caspar, originally an art dealer after dating for 18 months, in a lavish ceremony at York Minster in September last year, with Princess Eugenie and Katy Perry invited as guests. She arrived in a vintage Volkswagen camper wearing a bespoke Chloé dress. How’s it being newlywed in lockdown, I wonder?

“It’s been great, I can honestly say that we haven’t come to blows, we haven’t stormed out of the house or vice versa and I’m grateful for that. It’s probably not ideal straight after you get married to suddenly be completely forced together, but it’s been actual evidence that we can just coexist really peacefully and really happily,” Ellie says, hugging her arms.

“I think someone can really bring out the best in you and someone can really bring out the worst in you too,” Ellie muses as we discuss the power of a positive partnerships, after much has been previously made in the press over her confirmed or rumoured relationships.

“It’s always with retrospect and hindsight when you say, ‘Oh man, what was I doing with that person? I was so unhappy! ’ I’ve definitely been through that and it’s all been a learning curve. When I turned 30, I was like, ‘Wow, my 20s went really quick. Real quick. ’ But, I’m having so much more of a better time in my 30s because I’ve realised everything that I did wrong and now I can correct it. ”

As we bond over the shared jealousy we experienced in our twenties, Ellie reveals she’s turned that source of negativity into inspiration recently. “I wrote a song about jealousy the other night because I was a jealous, chaotic, frenzied person in my 20s. I didn’t know who I was. I went straight from university to being on tour, so I had no chance to settle into a routine and understand my habits and my personality. If you enter into a relationship as that person, then you will attract the same person that isn’t right for you. Then for whatever reason, you keep going with this relationship because you feel safe in it and you feel like I’d rather be in this crazy relationship than be single. I think because of my childhood and not really being that close to either of my parents gave me that extra urge for comfort and security,” she admits.

Past relationships aside and with this new-found security within herself, her yet-to-be-named forthcoming fourth album makes a rebirth of Ellie Goulding. “I am really comfortable in my own skin now, comfortable in my own company and I like myself a lot more than I used to, it’s having someone that can support your happiness rather than be your happiness,” she smiles.

Ahead of our interview I had an early look at a video for a track from the forthcoming album, self-shot in isolation, with creative direction from her team over Facetime. In it, Ellie literally takes control of her body – just as she does in her GLAMOUR cover shoot, appearing in various stages of undress. “You look absolutely banging babes,” I remark, to which she bashfully replies, “I could’ve done a video like that five years ago! ”

“I would’ve looked at that video and thought that I didn’t look good, I couldn’t pull that off. I think that lack of self-esteem affected everything from what I would wear on stage to my energy to my body language. ”

And for Ellie, her body image became a battleground between the two very different sides of herself. “It was so dominating, it just dominated my persona, my everything on stage,” she admits. “I’ve always kept fit and I’ve always been really conscious of health, but I had an unhealthy relationship with food. But then I also had this destructive side, which was very in keeping with being an artist and a songwriter. Then the other half of me was so desperate for control and routine. That affected my diet, it affected my relationship with food. Then I also was really against eating meat and then I was vegan, but I wasn’t a good vegan. I think I’ve done every type of diet there is. I’ve never been obsessed with being as thin as possible, as I truly think to be strong is the most incredible thing ever for a woman. ”.

“I think a difference now with me and my body is that because I’m in a happy place, I feel like I don’t need to do ten mile runs every day, which would then cause me to go and eat loads, which would then cause me to go and run ten miles, again. It was just a vicious circle of really bad relationships with fitness and food. But right now, I’m just a lot easier on myself and I say to myself, if I’ve eaten like crap then sure I’ll do a longer workout. If I’m tired and haven’t slept well, like last night I went to bed at 4AM because I just couldn’t sleep, today, I will just do a really slow jog and some weights. ”

I tell her that I think if they were to meet, twentysomething Ellie would give thirtysomething Ellie the biggest hug and say how proud she is of her. “When I watched that video back, I was like I’m so proud of myself,” she says grinning from ear to ear. “Me and Caspar had a conversation about it, and he said, ‘But how do you feel about people seeing your body in that way? ’ And I’m like, “Well first of all I’m 33 now, I’m not a girl anymore”, and I was like a girl for a long time. I was stuck like that for a while, as a singer, because I started wearing shorts, bra tops and trainers on stage and went on a train of touring for ten years and just didn’t stop. It was quite hard for growth and progression. I finally got to a point where I was like, “Wow, I’m a woman now! ”

I don’t doubt that Ellie Goulding: The Woman will add even more accomplishments to that CV, now that she’s running on real self-belief. And as we wrap up our chat and Ellie remarks, “That was a deep conversation, I loved it. I haven’t spoken to anyone properly in ages. It’s been really nice,” I am reminded just how imperative talking is – especially at this time.

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