NEW YORK — British singer Ellie Goulding dealt with writer's block when coming up with songs for her sophomore album. That's because she was still dealing with the success of her first album.
Goulding's debut, "Lights," was released in February 2010 in Europe and March 2011 in the United States. This year, however, the title track peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and has sold more than 3.3 million units in America. The electro-dance track is one of the year's top songs.
"I still haven't been able to understand, like, why that has happened," the 25-year-old said in a recent interview. "It's crazy. But the definite truth is it's been way more popular here (in the U.S.) than it has anywhere in the world."
Her "Lights" album has sold about 240,000 units in the U.S., but now she's promoting her sophomore record, "Halcyon," which was released this week. She recorded it in "a converted barn in a valley" in England with producer Jim Eliot (Kylie Minogue) to escape the success of "Lights."
While her "Lights" single is on the new album, Goulding has a new single, "Anything Could Happen," a new sound — and a somewhat new relationship.
AP: Did you want to capitalize on the success of "Lights" and do something similar on the new album?
Goulding: ... No, not really. ... If my next song has the same ability to do what "Lights" has done, then I'll be really proud. But, who knows? Like, I would never want to design music to do what "Lights" did 'cause that wouldn't have any kind of integrity on my part. ... Most of my favorite music isn't in the charts. Don't get me wrong, I adore pop music so much. I'm not saying I have a thing against chart music. If mine gets on the charts and I sell records, then it's a bonus. It's like Gotye. I don't think Gotye ever expected, just from stories I've heard, he never expected to have a hit with ("Somebody I Used to Know").
AP: "Lights" really had a slow and steady rise up the U.S. charts. How do you feel about that?
Goulding: I wonder if that's the case with a lot of my songs. I feel like I wrote songs for the future or something. Not in an arrogant way, but I feel like maybe my songs were, like, before their time or something.
AP: What helped you overcome writer's block?
Goulding: ... I guess I cured it by meeting Jim. Also ... I went through, like, a breakup in a relationship (with radio DJ Greg James) and genuinely, like, that kind of opened the floodgates for me. I felt like there was a lot I needed to write about for a long time. I went away to Ireland by myself and that triggered a lot of the lyrics, a lot of the ideas.
AP: Was it therapeutic and easier to deal with the breakup by writing about it?
Goulding: It was definitely therapeutic. It's really nice to know that when you're going through stuff and you're writing about it, it can almost be resolved in a song. In a way I can get over stuff easier if I write it down, and it's there, and I know I'll always have that thing to help me with it.
AP: You're dating Skrillex and you've collaborated musically. Do you want to do more of that?
Goulding: I think in an ideal world we'd love to make a whole record together ... but it just so happens that we're both ridiculously busy. When it comes to music, it honestly is really professional. Honestly. If we start talking about music on the phone, it switches immediately to being professional, and not on purpose, but because we're both so passionate about music and it's a very serious thing to us. But at the same time we've had fun making stuff, and I have fun listening to his new stuff because it blows my mind and it's so clever to me, so fascinating it makes me want to laugh, and I laugh because it's so brilliant. He's listened to a lot of my stuff in the early stages. It's really good to have one person, regardless of whether they're a musician or not, it's good to have one person to keep referencing to and asking (his or her) opinion. He's definitely been good to have around during the making of "Halcyon."
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