Ellie Goulding hasn’t had a break in more than five years. When Industry Weekly spoke to her recently at the tail end of her European tour, she was living out of a London hotel in between stadium shows and recording voice-overs for the Discovery Channel.
“It sounds crazy, but actually, it feels pretty normal,” the EDM-drenched pop vocalist says of her fast-paced life. For most stars, the performer and the person behind the scenes are entirely different. When it comes to Goulding, they truly blur.
And candidness pours out on her airy, synth-soaked 2015 release Delirium, featuring collaborations with iconic hitmaker Max Martin. “I think it’s important for me to be honest about situations I’ve been in and things that I know will affect other girls who’ve been in the same place,” she says of the record. The video for single “On My Mind” continues that dialogue. Filmed mostly inside the El Cortez in Downtown Las Vegas, Goulding says the casino was an ideal spot for her vision. “It just made sense for it to be in Vegas … I was like, we need horses and a robbery and Thelma & Louise … I feel like Vegas can be associated with men and sports cars and gambling and poker and stuff like that. I thought, I’ll make it about two women who want to escape their monotonous, weird lives.”
Goulding’s latest track, “Something in the Way You Move,” can be heard when she returns to Vegas on Saturday. You won’t catch her riding a horse through Fremont East, but you might spot her prowling the Strip for a quick pre-concert bite—if you’re lucky.
How are you doing today? Today is kind of a weird one, because I didn’t sleep last night and then I kind of woke up after a couple hours of sleep midday and then I went to record a voiceover part for the Discovery Channel … Now I’m just back at my hotel in London. I’m living in a hotel, which sounds crazy, but actually, I spend most of my life in hotels. It feels pretty normal.
Delirium has been out for a while. Does the album mean something different to you now than when you first started recording it? I’d say I’m still passionately dedicated to it. When I first released the album I was still listening to it to myself because I was still in awe of the people that I’d worked with and the process and this change of mood … I was really excited by what was done. Now that I’ve been touring it and the songs are firmly stuck in my brain … I feel like I’m observing it from the outside now.
The video for “On My Mind” takes place in Downtown Las Vegas. Why was Downtown and the El Cortez chosen for the backdrop? It just made sense for it to be in Vegas. I said to [director] Emil [Nava], ‘We need horses and a robbery and Thelma and Louise.’ It’s one of the classic stories of female empowerment, so I wanted to do that. I feel like Vegas can be associated with men and sports cars and gambling and poker and stuff like that, but I thought, I’ll make it about two women who want to escape their monotonous, weird lives.
And there’s a strong message behind the video. You don’t really know what’s going on behind closed doors, which is such a common thing when you’re judging something from the outside. The girls [and] myself come across as quite mean in the video, but it’s for a good reason. We’ve been stuck with men who’ve been treating us like trophies. I like destroying that stereotype of what a woman is. It just went with the song because the song is about a woman not being afraid to talk openly about a one-night stand—or a situation that wasn’t a relationship—talking about things not being black and white. Certainly in my case, I think it’s important for me to be honest about situations I’ve been in and things that I know will affect other girls who’ve been in the same place. I feel like that’s a situation that’s always made to be a woman’s role—to be the one who’s clingy. I wanted to destroy that kind of sexism.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Las Vegas? Do you have a favorite club or restaurant? I love Vegas. I used to go there a lot. My ex-boyfriend is a DJ and he’d always take me there and we’d always have an amazing time. I do really like Vegas, I genuinely do. To be honest, I don’t know it well enough outside of the hotels, I feel like I haven’t experienced it. Myself and my team like to find new places. Ellie Goulding at Mandalay Bay Events Center, April 9.