Ellie Goulding hopes to duplicate U.K. success stateside
Impacting the U.S. music scene is the rightful next step for any import artist, and she’s fine with it -- as long as it’s on her terms.
“There are always expectations of British artists to eventually go over and try to crack it here,” the singer-songwrtiter said. “I’ve built a little fan base back home, so I hope the same thing happens here. But I don’t want a big commercial push. I’d rather it happen kind of naturally, through word of mouth.”
So far, it seems the 24-year-old is getting her wish.
As the Hereford, England, native pushes her debut, “Lights,” on U.S. soil, she has rallied quite the buzz for herself, mostly by playing a handful of smaller venues across the country, bookended by two major festivals: the recent South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, and last weekend’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio.
“When I went out and saw the audience, I was very overwhelmed. I didn’t think that many people had heard of me. I guess it’s the power of the Internet and blogging,” she said. “I was very happy to have gotten that type of reaction, especially because I haven’t released [many] singles here.”
Specifically, she has only put out the album's title track as an offering Stateside -- it's the album's sixth single in the U.K.
Like most of the class of the most recent British invasion -- Adele, Mumford & Sons and Tinie Tempah -- she’s already quite massive back home.
Selling more than a half a million copies since its release in March 2010, “Lights” earned her the title of bestselling debut artist of the year in the U.K. Goulding also scored the Critics’ Choice Award at the 2010 Brit Awards, an honor previously bestowed upon Adele and Florence & the Machine. Maybe she was a little bit modest in saying she’s only built “a little fan base.”
“Lights” has gotten raves for its blend of electro, folk and pop. While Goulding fills the disc with plenty of ethereal hooks, there is a dark overcast with a handful of emotionally raw tracks such as “Under the Sheets,” “The Writer” and “Guns and Horses.”
The blend of genres offers her the chance to wear different hats onstage: One moment, she is channeling her inner disco diva as she withers around with her sweat-stained hair stuck to her face; another, she is pounding on a bass drum to the tune of Kanye Wests’s “Power” before picking up her guitar and launching into a riff of folksy pop.
Judging from the women who show up at her shows in custom-made T-shirts and scream the words to her songs, she’s struck a chord.
Just don’t ask her what she think brings people to her music.
“It’s such a difficult question. Its kinda like, when you ask someone why they like a certain kind of music. It’s hard to explain,” she said. “I guess the stuff I write is sort of relatable. I’m always very specific with what I write. Maybe people appreciate my honesty. I’m not afraid to write big pop songs, but I’m also not afraid to be very honest and write about my fears and my problems. I think the girls, especially, relate to that.”
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photos: (Top) Ellie Goulding. Credit: Scott Trindle
(Bottom) Goulding performs April 17 at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival in Indio. Credit: Louis Sinco / Los Angeles Times