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Ellie Goulding On New Album, Living In New York and Coming Out Of Her Hiatus

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

After years of open mic nights and posting music on myspace.com that anyone could hear, Ellie Goulding finally got her big break in the early 2010s with hit after hit, like this one.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIGHTS")

ELLIE GOULDING: (Singing) You show the lights that stop me, turn to stone. You shine it when I'm alone.

SIMON: Ellie Goulding was a certified pop star, but the glamour faded quickly.

GOULDING: And, you know, it was fun for, like, a minute. And then I realized that I was not happy. I wasn't being myself at all. I was drinking. I was - you know, I can see it in my performances that I wasn't good. And so I think I probably took some time away for a while. I think I was just trying to figure out who I was. And, you know, things have become blurred. And so I didn't really know how to be.

SIMON: It's been almost five years since Ellie Goulding released a new album. Her latest, "Brightest Blue," was born out of her time living in New York City.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRIGHTEST BLUE")

GOULDING: (Singing) There's no blue in the odyssey, even in the calmest seas. That was all I want to be, a semi-precious mystery. Yeah. I love me more than you - doesn't mean I can't be true. Slip into the blue lagoons - I could be your muse.

I felt like I had a type of loneliness living in a big city. I didn't know that many people. But then I also had a long time to have self-reflection and think about the past 10 or so years touring and releasing music. And I haven't really had a chance to really stop and think about that and also really haven't had a chance before to really understand who I've become as a human, as a woman.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRIGHTEST BLUE")

GOULDING: (Singing) The brightest blue - tonight, give me the brightest blue.

I think back then - and I think in so many situations when you're a woman, you just - you let things happen. You let people talk to you in a certain way. You let people, you know, patronize you because you're so scared of losing your position. You're so scared of, like, taking what you have for granted and thinking that, you know, being in a position of, like, jeopardizing it. So even though you know certain things were wrong and certain things were unacceptable, like men feeling like they had a better opinion than you, you're so scared of, like, speaking up about that because it would mean you would have some kind of disadvantage from it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "POWER")

GOULDING: (Singing) Beautiful lies on a Friday night - starting to wonder where we lost our magic - head in the clouds - talking so loud. All I hear is static.

"Power" was one of those songs that kind of had this euphoric chorus that everybody could sing along to. But I wanted the verses to, you know, really try and summarize this kind of superficial 21st-century relationship.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "POWER")

GOULDING: (Singing) You're not really down for love. You just want the power - the power. No, I'm not chasing paper. And I'm not faking either. Take me higher, or this will expire.

Especially if you're heavily engaged with social media and you've kind of put yourself in that world - I think it is really hard to separate yourself from that. And I feel like I've seen so many relationships that have been based on something false. And it's almost like everybody's pretending. And everybody's creating this fake, kind of happy existence for someone instead of actual sort of deep human connection.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HATE ME")

GOULDING: (Singing) Hate me. Hate me. Still trying to replace me. Chase me. Chase me. Tell me how you hate me. Erase me. Erase me. Wish you never dated me. Lies - tell me lies, baby. Tell me how you hate me.

Honestly, it's taken the past few years for me to really unravel things and to find that kind of peace. Maybe it was my 30s. But 20s was just so chaotic. And I think also, meeting the person you're going to marry is also a big life changer. I was not prepared to be married or to meet that kind of guy. And I did. So I think that just change your perspective. It stops you from messing around, I think. And yeah. I felt like I have my years of being a rock star. And then, you know, I was like, I really just want to take this time to establish who I am.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEW HEIGHTS")

GOULDING: (Singing) All this time I felt completed. All this this time I needed you by my side, even if we fight and fight again. And nights with you were so discerning, taking all my weapons from me. I found myself.

I think it was just so shocking to me to discover that you could be entirely alone if you wanted to be and actually you could embrace loneliness. I thought the loneliness was a bad thing. I was like indulging in it for a while. I was indulging in grief, indulging in heartbreak, indulging in loneliness. And, actually when I started to be more rational and pragmatic about life, which I think was really important for me, I realized I could still write songs with a sense of clarity in my life. If I could describe myself in a word right this second, it would be peaceful.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEW HEIGHTS")

GOULDING: (Singing) Love without someone else feels right. Love for myself - it is new life, something much deeper inside.

SIMON: Ellie Goulding - her new album, "Brightest Blue," out now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEW HEIGHTS")

GOULDING: (Singing) Something died the day I fell for you, pouring vodka in my apple juice. I smoked the night away. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.