Ellie Goulding on her new two-part album Brightest Blue and surviving lockdown
Singer Ellie Goulding talks about her latest album and using her voice to support charitable ventures doing lockdown.
ART has been known to inspire many things, and for singer Ellie Goulding it has found its way into her music. Or the title of her new album cover at least.
The pop hitmaker, 33, releases her fourth studio album Brightest Blue on July 17 and has a newly-announced tour for spring 2021. But rewind the clock and it was during her time living in the US and a visit to an installation by American artist Doug Wheeler that she found some album inspiration.
She explains: "I moved there for a couple of years (New York) and the one thing I noticed, there was always a new exhibition or a new opening, a new showcase of a new artist and so I was just immersed in art for a few years.
"I went to an exhibition by Doug Wheeler and it was essentially walking into a blue, luminous room, where you can't escape the blue. I immediately felt this feeling of warmth and happiness, and then I went to the studio and wrote the title song Brightest Blue".
But the title, she reflects, also shares similarities with the monikers of previous records like 2012's, Halcyon.
"Halcyon Days [the title of the re-issued 2012 album] is the days of happiness that come after a lot of turmoil," she says.
"So I always have this theme of bitter sweet or melancholic where you overcome these days of sadness. So, Brightest Blue is just being able to find the light in sadness really.
"Blue was always a colour associated with being down but I thought Brightest Blue was a good way to accept that you'll always have those kind of feelings, but learning how to illuminate them."
Goulding's previous album, Delirium, was released in 2015, and the gap of over four years is the longest between albums for the Brit Award winner.
Talking from London via Zoom, she reflects on the time frame.
She definitely isn't one to rest on her musical laurels and spent a large chunk of those years on the road as part of her Delirium World Tour.
"I definitely went around the world a few times over," she explains.
"And even going to Australia and New Zealand was big, you have to take quite a lot of time to deal with that undertaking because the jet lag is crazy. I remember a few trips where it took me weeks to get over the jet lag.
"So yeah, for those years I was travelling a lot and then when I got back I was just in no place to write music particularly. I'd just spent the last three years on tour with my music and I think it can get a bit much.
"I think I wanted to have some kind of normality, I wanted to see my friends, I wanted to spend the last years of my earlier thirties as well, trying to have a life that was beyond touring and singing."
The singer, who married art dealer Caspar Jopling last year, says she hopes Brightest Blue is a "hopeful album".
She explains: "I do acknowledge things on the album that suggest that things aren't going quite right in the world but I do try and offer resolutions and try and offer a sense of, you know that you can escape it, and you can create your own world about yourself…"
"I like the idea that my music helps people or makes people feel more positive or makes them feel like they can escape and hopefully that's what this album will do. I hope so, well, that's the general idea anyway".
Divided into two parts – the first being Brightest Blue and the second titled EG.O. – the album sees Goulding working with writers and producers including Canadian musician Tobias Jesso Jr, British producer and songwriter Starsmith, singer/songwriter Jim Eliot and more.
She's also collaborated with Diplo on the 2018 single Close To Me (feat Swae Lee), featured on the EG.O. section of Brightest Blue. The American songwriter, producer and DJ is someone she relishes working with.
Goulding explains: "We've know each other for a long time and he's always really respected me and respected my voice and my work. We may even have another collaboration in the not too distant future as well.
"So, I have to say I really appreciate that he has worked with me despite any kind of differences in our tastes, he just appreciates my voice and I love that about him".
Outside of music, using her voice for good causes is something the pop star does not shy away from.
During lockdown she has featured in Global Citizen's charity concert One World: Together At Home, as well as the BBC's Big Night In which featured a charity single cover of the Foo Fighters' hit Times Like These.
She's also long been a UN Environment Ambassador, and has passionately campaigned to help highlight the global climate crisis.
"One side of me just wanted to hide away and use this time just entirely for myself and just to grow myself in order to be able to give everyone a better version of myself at the end of it," says Goulding when asked about using her support for charitable campaigns during the lockdown period.
"But at the same time I understood I was still a person of comfort to some people and maybe someone that a few people looked up to so I felt like it was better to use my voice than not. And I'd like to think that the things that I like to talk about on social media and things I like to shine a light on are causes for the greater good.
"So I made that decision that I was going to be present during this time and to be honest it was also it was a comfort to me as well to know we can all still be there for each other, virtually and kind of give each other that support so I'm glad I did.
"And as it comes to an end, I've become so used to this virtual comfort in people that it's going to be odd to go back to normal life but I think we're all faced with that".
:: Brightest Blue is available for pre-order ahead of its release on July 17. Ellie Goulding will play Dublin's Olympia Theatre on May 12 2021