Last night, British pop chanteuse Ellie Goulding played an acoustic set for Niketown’s Fashion’s Night Out event. Goulding has been a familiar face on American soil (and airwaves) lately; her debut album Lights has enjoyed a slowburning success that eventually afforded her a headlining slot on Nylon’s recent summer music tour. But last night’s micro-concert wasn’t just high pop entertainment, it also served as the precursor to a new collaboration between Nike and the singer, who is an avid runner and self-confessed athletic freak.
On September 25th, Goulding will compete in London’s “Nike + Run To The Beat” half-marathon; in preparation for that milestone, she filmed a short documentary with the athletic brand to chronicle her busy life as a musician and runner. Additionally, she and British producer Alex Metric collaborated on a 30 minute long “running aid” mix called “Run Into The Light”, which can be purchased on iTunes.
Rolling Stone caught up with the singer last night to discuss her prolific year, her thoughts on style, and why without running to keep her sane, her musical career would suffer.
You’ve had a great summer in the US. Has your newly found success here come as a surprise to you?
It has come as a surprise because I wasn’t sure if my style of music would translate. I guess my accent is pretty obvious and my songs can sometimes sound “British” in ways, but maybe the electronic sound has been part of the success. Some people really attach to my voice, and others to the sound. I’m happy with that. Having sold out tours in the States is still something I haven’t just processed. My fan base here has been growing since I did my first LA show and I’ve gotten to know some of my biggest fans who have travelled across America to catch more than one show.
How has your sound evolved since you started recording?
I see my music as being firmly pop. I have been described as having a unique voice and I guess listening to everything from the darkest dubstep to the most upbeat cheesy pop to classical has given my music something unique that I am proud of.
Your own look has become a bit more defined since 2009. What has been the biggest transformation in how you approach your appearance?
I don’t think I made a conscious decision; I just grew up and matured. Things became so busy that I didn’t eat as much as I used to, I became a more passionate runner, and I suddenly had access to the most beautiful, expensive clothes I had ever seen. My body gets more athletic every day from the running and my voice gets stronger and I have a bigger lung capacity. Confidence is the key to transforming into a swan! My hair has been pink, purple, blue. But at moment I’m obsessed with becoming a super super platinum blonde. Incidentally, I’m having more fun.
Will you be involved in New York Fashion Week beyond your Nike appearance? What shows will you attend?
I’ve attended D&G, but everything got so crazy on Fashion’s Night Out that we literally couldn’t get anywhere, so ended up dancing to Middle Eastern music in a tiny cellar bar. I can’t remember much! I’m into Acne, Isabel Marant, Topshop, Alexander Wang, and so much else but we’ll see what happens.
You’ve always been a runner. What does it give you?
It gives me strength, endurance, power, brain clearance, good skin from all the water I have to drink… so many things. But contrary to what a lot of people think, it doesn’t really give me writing inspiration. It’s more a physical, endorphin releasing thing. Writing is a much darker place for me.
Does running influence your creativity?
The only way that running increases my creativity is that it puts me in a reflective mood for the rest of the day. I usually run alone so that act of solidarity puts me in a zone. My fitness is priceless for what I do on stage though. Flexibility and not getting out of breath as I move around and sing both help a lot. Singing is as much a physical thing as much it is an art.
What are your thoughts on British vs. American music tastes?
Like anywhere it is very much a unique thing and depends on so many things – I believe that mine is my childhood, my surroundings in the countryside, and the radio. It gave me a perspective that influenced everything I ever listened to. My introduction to pop music at such a young age meant that I had more time for my music taste to expand and mature and eventually I was listening to things I things I never imagined! University was the beginning of a huge musical education, because I was introduced to classic music other kids listened to when they were young. But on a simple level, I would say that American radio has a lot more cheesy pop. But I love that! Massive choruses and massive massive synth lines and then the occasional guitar or piano song. For example, Radio 1 in the UK, is diverse and is the most popular station in the UK because of it. US and British music tastes are not too far away from each other; we’ve been literally obsessed with American pop for years and years!
Have you noticed different responses to your music based on region?
Absolutely. Some Places in Europe absolutely love me, and some just haven’t responded at all. It is so fascinating. I just can’t figure out why! But I think it is great to have that difference of tastes.
Do you think American and British girls have different interpretations of style?
I haven’t noticed that at all. New York fashion is very similar to East London.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done to create a memorable visual?
I’m not sure – the only thing I can think of is unintentionally creating a Christ pose bending backwards at the end of every show with my microphone lead wrapped around my neck. I don’t know why this happens!
What’s next for you in 2011/2012?
Writing, running, learning, performing, touring. Five things I aim to do for the rest of my life.