Ellie Goulding talks guns and gays

Singer-songwriter on royal couple connection, next album and lesbian love

By Chris Azzopardi

"Guns and Horses," a single from her debut album, might have given Ellie Goulding some much-deserved attention, but it's a different type of guns that the ladies love.

"I think that I have a lesbian following because I'm quite muscley," the English singer-songwriter says.

Whatever the reason, the gays were onto Goulding even before one of her greatest career coups - being the only performer to play at the royal couple's wedding. Now the 24-year-old is bringing her folk-pop songs on the road to support her album, "Lights," which was released last year.

We caught up with the charmingly giddy Goulding, who chatted about her big gay following, moving into a dark place for her sophomore album, and how covering an Elton John song was a blessing in disguise.

I hear there's a big gay turnout at your shows, is that right?

Yeah, there is for some reason. I found I have quite a lesbian following, and I feel like I have quite a big gay following - and I don't know why.

Does your boyfriend ever get jealous of the lesbians that love you so much?

Yes! But he realizes that I meet a lot of people just generally on tour - but, you know, he always gets guys and girls after him, so... (Laughs)

Have you always had gay people in your life?

For sure; since I was young. Several of my favorite people in the whole world are gay and absolutely amazing. Also, I do have a lot of gay guys who are huge fans. And I get the occasional "I'll go straight for you" on Twitter. (Laughs)

I like how my gay fans are more in touch with their feelings. Some people say I've helped them through a breakup or my music makes them feel better about something or better about themselves or lifts them out of a bad mood - and that's a nice thing to hear.

And straight people have absolutely no emotions.

(Laughs) Yeah, exactly! But that's kind of what I've found (with gay fans). But, like, my manager is gay and he's my favorite person in the world.

What are your shows like?

I guess people describe me as quite raunchy but not slutty, because I do like to be sexy when I perform but also I have moments where I just sit with my guitar. It kind of varies. But when I'm doing a song like "Salt Skin," I like to move.

Why did you choose to cover Elton John's "Your Song" for the album?

I actually didn't. It was a song I did for an advert here - quite a big Christmas ad campaign. I would've never thought twice about covering an Elton John song. I love Elton John with all my heart, but it just never occurred to me to do an Elton John cover. And then when I started practicing to get in the studio, I realized how beautiful it was - and so my appreciation for him grew a bit stronger. I guess now that the song has been a big success I feel really grateful, and I feel like it wasn't such a bad idea after all. And the more I sang it, the more attached I got to it - and to Elton.

Wasn't it sort of your ticket to the royal wedding?

No, it wasn't - because I believe it was planned way before that happened. Way before the cover. Because I met them last year.

What was it like performing for Prince William and Kate Middleton?

Pretty awesome. I can't really say anything about it, but it was one of the best experiences of my life.

You can't talk about it?

On two levels, really: First of all, we said we wouldn't say anything, and also, I kind of don't want to because it's so private.

Can you talk about how you merge folk and electro pop on "Lights"? Why do you refer to yourself as a folk-pop artist?

I make sure I keep the guitar running all the way through, and I start everything on guitar and add everything else afterwards. The sound of a guitar is a thing for me because my dad used to play guitar, and I always used to listen to guitar music. So not only do I write my songs on it, but it's a big feature on all of my songs. Even "Animal," the danciest track on the album, has guitar running through it.

How will the new album you're working on compare to "Lights"?

I think it will be different because the stuff I've been listening to is really different lately, so I think it will just be kind of inspired by that. I've been listening to Warpaint and Beach House, and I want my voice to come out on this record a bit more.

I hear this album will be darker, too. Why's that?

I don't know. It's just me; it's just who I am. My music is solely happy at some points, but there's always a dark kind of thing running through my songs. I am just kind of a dark person. There's always a place in my head I go to to write songs, and the darker it is, the more genuine it feels to me. Everyone's different, but I'm just one of those. I think a lot. I think too much, even when I'm really happy.

Is there pressure on you to be weirder and more over-the-top because the bizarre bar has been set so high with artists like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry?

Not really. It's a tough one, because I love Lady Gaga - who doesn't? - but I also love, like, Feist, and she doesn't dress up or anything. I just think of myself as a singer, really. I love fashion; I'm obsessed with fashion, but most of the time I'm in my gym stuff, running, and it doesn't really go very well with high fashion.

True. Running in a meat dress would be a challenge.

Exactly! So I have to make a compromise.

Ellie Goulding

Doors 7 p.m. August 2

Royal Oak Music Theatre

$22 (advance)/$25 (door)

318 W. Fourth Street, Royal Oak


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