Ellie Goulding is on some new shit. She’s entering 2013 fresh off a breakup with producer Skrillex, but is pretty optimistic about it. Ellie comes equipped with a fan base that wants to eat her hair and bake her cakes. And why not? The follow-up to her debut album Lights, titled Halcyon, is some “real tears” magnificence that translates just as well on stage via her Halcyon Days Tour as it does blaring through some ear buds – or in her case Beats By Dre headphones. Halcyon’s lead single “Anything Could Happen” is the official soundtrack to the Beats By Dre ads, featuring Ellie whipping her hair around in the commercial. Considering her heavy hand in writing and producing her work, it’s the reason why she’s been perfecting her tour performances with various instruments that give her what she wants: you know, that “womp womp” sound. In addition, you can catch her on stage beating the guts out of a floor tom, something Ellie’s become known for her throughout her steady ascent into superstardom. When she’s not doing badass things like banging on drums and shooting guns, she’s being a totally normal (sometimes hungover) chick, who was raised on Eddie Vedder and has a personality as awesome as her music. Ellie keeps things candid (and hilarious) with VICE, as she talks about her tour, her unease with being a sex symbol, her breakup, and her creepiest fans.
VICE: What are you doing differently from the Lights Tour with the Halcyon Days Tour?
Ellie Goulding: It’s way more “live.” There’s hardly anything on track anymore. Not that there really was before, but everything is like live now. Everything is live and everything is the right kind of sound, but it’s also something visual. I wanted there to be a proper band as well for the performances. The smallest things amuse me, like the fact that Simon plays bass and there will be this trigger where the string reverberates and you can make that really cool dubby “womp womp” sound. I can’t really describe it, but it’s a really cool sound. And I’m doing a bit more with my voice and stuff. I’m adding “Hanging On,” which I’ve never done before. It’s just going to be way more happening. It’s a bit more of a show than before.
Have you added anything strange to your tour rider?
No, just healthy stuff. I’m really boring; I should say something strange.
I knew of an artist who added a dartboard with their ex-girlfriend’s face to their tour rider.
Why would they do such a thing? I don’t hate anyone.
Right? People do some weird shit after a breakup and add it to a tour rider.
Wow. You know I’m not with Sonny [Skrillex] anymore…
So the rumors are true. Sorry to hear that.
It’s alright. I’m fuckin’ happy. Not because of that, but because I’m fuckin’ happy in general.
It must have been hard doing the long distance thing.
Yeah, it was shite. It was rubbish. It got to the point where we didn’t see each other for up to two months, and it was like, “This isn’t going to work.” You know how people say, “If you love someone that much then you’ll make it work?” That’s not true. The nature of what we were both doing at the time was never going to grant us a fair chance or a fair shot. And it’s fucking cruel and sad. But, saying that, I just feel like I’m in a really really great place at the moment.
It was so ridiculous how as soon as you put a pic up of you and Grimmy [BBC Radio 1] on Instagram, people decided you were dating him.
Wasn’t that so funny? He’s gorgeous though isn’t he?
Yeah, he’s totally hot. So have any of your fans hit you like, “Hey. Heard you’re single.”
Oh yeah, all the time. I’ve just like…I don’t even know anymore [laughs]. But I’ve been getting that stuff a lot on Twitter. Some people even start interviews now like, “So, you’re single, right?” Ugh.
Have you noticed your creeper level has gotten so much worse? Sometimes it levels out for stars, but yours keep getting worse.
Yeah, and especially now.
What’s the weirdest proposition you’ve received?
Well there’s this girl, I won’t mention her Twitter name just in case, and she was like saying all of this weird stuff to me. She was sending me photos of herself. My friends were getting really freaked out.
Do you get more women trying to holler at you than men? It seems like you totally do.
Yes, totally. Totally.
You’re such a chick magnet.
[laughs] I think I am. I’m a chick magnet.
There was that fan on Twitter that wanted to eat your hair. Wasn’t she a girl too?
[laughs] Oh yeah, remember her?
So I’m eating these cookies, and they’re those ones that taste like a cookie, but eat like a chip. I can’t stop eating them. For some reason today I can’t stop eating.
What do you eat when you’re hungover?
I drink a ginormous green tea. I’m actually hungover right now.
Where’s your favorite place to be drunk?
I’d probably say MPM, which is my manager’s house. Everyone parties there every weekend. We end up getting the limbo pole out, and we do karaoke. I end up being the DJ for the night, and I’m glued next to my iPhone changing songs. Basically, it’s like his parents’ house. His dad is like this producer – he’s Steven Lillywhite and he’s produced all of U2’s albums and stuff – and the house is just ridiculous. It’s got such a good vibe about it, and every room is different. There’s like a beach room, and the kitchen has a painted sky. The most random stuff happens too, like one week there will be an actress there, the next week a free-running champion. We have so many different circles of friends, there always ends up being a big party. It’s so much fun because you never know what’s going to happen.
With these smaller shows before your tour, have you noticed a change in the audience? Is it more women, more men, balanced?
Oh, it’s totally balanced now. There was definitely sort of a period, where it was mostly girls, but there are loads of bros now. Like I was looking at my audience at my last shows and there are loads of guys now. And it’s guys, like proper bros singing all the words. It’s so mental. I never thought in a million years that would happen. I never imagined playing for guys, singing like the chorus to “Explosions.”
Well Halcyon does feel like it can appeal to both men and women more so than Lights.
Girls will admit to being huge fans, but guys will say things on Twitter like, “Okay, I love Ellie Goulding, and if you don’t like it you can fuck off. Judge me all you want or unfollow me.” Something like that or, “If you don’t like it, you can s my d.” [laughs] I get stuff along those lines. I love hearing stuff like that.
Are you coming to terms with being a sex symbol?
No. I don’t feel like one right now. I feel gross. Right at this moment. Really gross. I need to go and really, really work out. I still can’t stop eating these cookie crisps. They are delicious. I was given them in a gifting thing the day before yesterday.
Do you ever eat or drink things that fans give you?
[still chewing] Mmm-hmmm. One of my biggest fans made me some sort of a lemon cake, and it was delicious.
You really trust that stuff?
Yeah. She’s like been one of my biggest fans for ages. I really don’t think she’d try and poison me. If like some random walked up to me and said, “Hey Ellie Goulding, I’ve got this cake for you,” I’d be like, “Aw, thanks!” But I wouldn’t eat it. No way. Not from a random. Cakes are weird though, right? They seem quite suspicious. If someone gives me sealed candy then I definitely will eat it.
Do you get weird gifts?
I get Gin a lot, because I said somewhere that I liked Gin. I get candy, tea. Fans have bought me like Swarovski things. Quite incredible things, like hats and clothes, necklaces. They make necklaces that say “Gould Diggers.” Oh hey guess who we saw last night valeting his car? Dr. Dre! Everyone was going “Eee-Eee-Eee” [opening sounds of “Anything Could Happen”] trying to draw attention to me because of the Beats By Dre commercial. I’m so lucky no one actually went up to him.
His arms are so gigantic, aren’t they?
Yeah, he’s so toned. I was in awe watching him at Coachella this year. Him and Snoop killed it. Oh my God I had the most fun I had in ages watching them. It was so good that I wish I could relive that.
It’s so cool that you’re still such a fan of music.
I love stuff that you would never think too. I brought a journalist to the studio because we hadn’t finished our interview properly. I had to do this demo track for a rapper – I don’t know who it’s going to be yet. So then I started playing A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin Problem” with 2 Chainz, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar. Oh my God it’s my favorite thing at the moment. I just fucking love everything. I can love the filthiest, heaviest Dubstep or I can listen to Classical music. Things affect me in different ways, but everything brings out something in me. Everything from like Hip-Hop to Classical to Dubstep or my favorite band in the world, Pearl Jam. I saw their documentary the other day, and I just cried. When you love a band that much and you’re just overwhelmed, suddenly you’re seeing old footage of Eddie Vedder hanging out with Chris Cornell years and years ago backstage in this little venue in Seattle. [sighs] It was just too much to take. Then seeing footage of Eddie years after that, around a campfire just playing. It was too much; I can’t take it. Like I spent years isolated in my room listening to Pearl Jam. He sings songs about his dad, which I can relate to. I was obsessed, and then all of a sudden I’m on this plane and suddenly in Pearl Jam world, and it was amazing.
So I’m assuming then that you’ve been to Seattle?
Seattle was the first place that I visited in the U.S. years ago. I loved this band Minus the Bear and I became so obsessed and then made friends with a couple of them. So then I was like, “I’m just going to fly there and hang out.” So I did. I borrowed some money and flew out. It was the first time I had been to the States. Now, outside of L.A. and New York, Seattle is the place people dig me the most in the States.
Do you feel like Pearl Jam’s music influenced your own?
Oh yeah, you don’t understand. I actually wanted to be Eddie Vedder.
Have you made any resolutions yet for 2013?
No, but I’m just going to do more stuff that scares me. Like yesterday, I shot a gun.
Did it knock you back a few steps?
No, no, no. My arms are strong. It’s scary as fuck though.
What other things are you trying to do?
I want to go skydiving.
I don’t know. I guess when I’m not scared anymore.
Who do you like performing for better – the American audience or overseas?
I really like the American audience. They bring a different kind of energy. I don’t know, I might change my mind after some dates on this tour. It can all change.
You never know. Are you still trying to move to the States?
No, no. I’m going to stay home now. Things have changed.
So no more L.A.
Nope. Shit’s changed. But I’m happy though. I’m really happy.