Ellie Goulding spoke to Yahoo Entertainment about being open with her fans about her mental health. In the past, Goulding shared her struggles with anxiety and panic attacks.
She also explained the "alter-ego" b-side of her new album "Brightest Blue" along with her empowering new single, "Power."
LYNDSEY PARKER: "Brightest Blue" is your first full album in five years. So an obvious question to ask is, this is the longest time you've taken between albums. Why the semi-hiatus, if you will?
ELLIE GOULDING: "Delirium," my third album, was taken up by like, three years of touring, really. I don't really remember having like, days off. I remember it was just such a hectic time. The idea of, then, going straight back into like, writing and then touring for another album was absolutely not what I felt was good for my soul at the time. So I made a conscious decision to move to New York where I felt like I could escape for a bit, and no one recognized me. Well, I think that anyone would recognize me.
LYNDSEY PARKER: When you were living a semi-anonymous or as anonymous as possible low-key existence in that time, how was that good for your mental health, because you've talked a lot in the past about how the sudden fame you came to about roughly 10 years ago, how you were unprepared for it and as it would with anyone, messed with your head a bit. How did it feel to sort of take a break from that?
ELLIE GOULDING: God, it was so good. I got to just, yeah, figure out a lot of things about myself. And that's kind of what essentially made the album.
LYNDSEY PARKER: You've been very open about your mental health, which I think is awesome. I think you were one of the first to start doing it around 2013. Now, a lot of people are talking about it. Even the Royals were talking about it. But like, in 2013, they weren't so much. When you first start talking about anxiety or panic attacks or whatever, what was the public response? Was it embracing, or were people like, whoa, why are you saying this?
ELLIE GOULDING: But I had a bit of both, really. I was amazed at how many people wrote to me saying thanks so much for speaking out about this because, you know, I've been called a freak and not being able to go to things because I'm too anxious or not be-- you know, anxiety has obviously recently become something very talked about, which is good.
Initially when I was having these panic attacks, I don't really think too much about it when I spoke about it. I was like, I'm just going to-- yeah, this is how my life is. Like, I-- sometimes I can't go to things because I'm too anxious. And it's not like, I go, whoah, I'm too nervous. I'm too nervous. It's a physical thing where my body simulates, like, some kind of crazy fight or flight thing where your body just freaks out and start sweating.
You start thinking these mad thoughts. Your body simulates a heart attack. It's all these things that just like, you know, it is debilitating. I can't be going to events and go into parties and go into the studio. And when I think about that time, now, it was really tough time. I didn't really understand what was happening to me until I had therapy about it.
But I also had people kind of saying, like, it's pretty crazy that you've shared that much. And you overshared. And I'm glad I did and to begin with. And I'll always talk about my issues. And I realize how important it is to speak up about things because you don't realize how much it helps people.
LYNDSEY PARKER: I'm curious when you first start having these attacks, though, was it during the time when you first started becoming famous? Was it sort of triggered or exacerbated by the fact that you were in the public eye? Especially as a woman, it can be stressful for any woman to be in the public eye to be scrutinized for their looks and scrutinized for their talent, doubted-- all that. Like, was that what brought it on? Or were you having that before?
ELLIE GOULDING: I was doing a shoot for a magazine, "New Musical Express"-- "NME." And "NME" was the magazine I bought my entire teenage existence. "NME" and Kiran-- they were like my music bibles. You know, like, every week, I'd have to read about every single band. And like, there was a free CD. Oh, my god.
So I was doing the shoot with them. And naturally I was nervous because I was like, oh, my god. I buy this magazine every week. And they want to do this feature on me. And the photographer was just a dick. And I remember he was telling me to like, do stuff I was uncomfortable with. And that was the day that they started. This is like, what did I get myself into? And that's-- yeah, that's how it started.
LYNDSEY PARKER: What was the photographer?
ELLIE GOULDING: Just like, makes certain expressions, like, faces, like, you know-- like, stuff, like, rude stuff. And yeah. And I remember being like, this surely isn't how it is-- surely not. And actually it wasn't. It just happened to be one particular bad experience that triggered it. And then I was doing TV and stuff.
And I just-- the idea of doing shoots and TV was just like, I didn't know this was part of it. I wanted to be a singer, but I just didn't know that that stuff would come with it. And so it just, everything caught up with me. And it took like a good few years to really get myself out of it. And now I haven't had a panic attack for years. Some of my most anxious pre-backstage situations have made for the most incredible performances.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Was the Grammys one of them, because I know you said that that was a big moment for you in your career. And at the time, you were nervous. But I remember--
ELLIE GOULDING: I was so nervous. I was so nervous. And to be honest with you, I have sacrificed a lot of performances for my nerves. Someone will say you have this big performance with this award show that-- and I'm like, I can't do it. I can't do it. And one thing I regret is I wish I just hadn't-- I wish that my anxiety hadn't got the best of me, because, ah, I would have done so many more epic performances.
But first of all, it's just-- I couldn't-- you know, you can get me out there on a stage with hundreds of 1,000 people. And I'll be fine. But anything on TV-- anything live-- anything that is tangled up in American music culture, it's like, for shy English girl, it's just too much. It's been too much.
LYNDSEY PARKER: You know, I've heard you say that you wish you'd had more help when you were first coming into the limelight and fame. So for new artists coming up, what's your advice to them when they're in the place you were at with lights 10 years ago?
ELLIE GOULDING: I think it's really important to be really open and honest to your label and to your management and say from the beginning what you're comfortable with and what you're not comfortable with. If you don't want to do a certain performance or you're not comfortable with something, I think you should talk about that because then you might change your mind. But if that's truly something that is just going to damage your mental health and that it will keep you up at night, you know, then, don't do it.
LYNDSEY PARKER: So to tie it back to "Brightest Blue," because like, it's a very epic, very ambitious record. And it has two sides. Can you tell me a little bit about why there is that division and what Side A and Side B represent?
ELLIE GOULDING: Side A is ultimately all me where I spent a lot of time in the studio with just a few people over the course of a year, couple years. And it's like a very honest kind of biographical talking a lot about myself, about my experiences, about my coming to understand myself as a woman and what changes that being what I've learned and then a couple of songs about situations I've been in where I'm just-- it's just like a disillusionment of the opposite sex or whatever.
And then Side B is more of like an ego thing where it's like an alter ego where I get to play this character where I can be this confident bad ass girl that can perform at the Grammys and [INAUDIBLE] and bloody what else.
[MUSIC - ELLIE GOULDING, "POWER"]
(SINGING) The power.