Ellie Goulding Opens Up About Taylor Swift & Squad Goals

Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images Entertainment.
Here's yet another excuse not to camp out with relatives the next time you're on the road. Last time we checked, a stay with Aunt Bitsy did not include access to a free Ellie Goulding concert.

The British singer-songwriter — and top-tier Taylor Swift squad member — was in London last night to launch Marriott International's new partnership with Universal Music Group. All 19 Marriott brands will be featuring exclusive concerts and in-hotel performances from the record label's stable of artists, with access open to guests and loyalty members. The kick-off concert, at the St Pancras Renaissance London, gave some 200 lucky Marriott members a taste of what's to come, with an energetic set from Goulding and the added bonus of free-flowing cocktails and gourmet nibbles.

A couple of flights up the staircase made famous by the Spice Girls, Refinery29 sat down with the "Love Me Like You Do" singer for a pre-concert chat about setting up Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift, the questions that piss her off, and, of course, what makes for a great hotel stay.

Oh, and fans? Stay alert. Goulding told us that her third album will be out "before the end of the year," with a touring schedule to follow. Time to get pumped.

With UMG partnering with Marriott International, it seems only natural to ask you about the hotel essentials you live for. Is it a gym, or a bubble bath?
"I don't really have baths; it's so much water that I never really indulge in having a bath. But I do love a really good shower, and I do love a comfy bed. It's weird how the smallest things become huge on a tour; you just feel better. My band and I pick up on the smallest things, like where the plug sockets are, or what's in the mini-bar, or how big the bathroom is. It also really helps if there's a really good gym. Even if I don't use it, it's nice to know that it's there if I need it."

Speaking of fitness, you seem to have a very approachable, fit, and healthy image. Is that a conscious decision?
"I like to represent my fans as much as possble. I do make it obvious that I'm very into in fitness, but I also make it obvious that I'm into drinking with my friends and going out. I don't ever really like to put myself on a pedestal or in an unreachable place. I love meeting people and my fans, because I like to be in touch with what my fans are into. I want them to know that I love fitness, but I also want them to know that I eat ice cream sometimes, or I eat really badly sometimes. I think that's really important.

"I like the idea that fans look up to me because I think it's a realistic thing to look up to. I sing, and play, and write songs, and that's my art — that is maybe a more unreachable thing that's more unique to me — but everything else [is realistic]. It's genuinely cool that I can get on with my fans when I meet them, and we have a laugh."

So much attention is given to pop stars squabbling, and yet, here you are in your friend's "Bad Blood" video. Do you feel more empowered within this "squad"?
"I think the world is changing in a big way, especially in the music industry. It's way more about looking up to each other than being a rival with each other. I love surrounding myself with these women who are incredibly strong and incredibly passionate about what they do. I think in life you should surround yourself with really incredible people. I have friends who do all kinds of things, and they constantly inspire me with how positive they are. I think one of the most important things I do is to surround myself with really awesome people."

And you're the one who played matchmaker for Taylor and Calvin...
"Yeah, we were all in a friendship group, and yeah, it just kind of happened."
Do you actually call it a squad?
"I'm sure we've referred to it as a squad. I've got a good group of London women here, as well. A London squad."

You've spoken in the past about getting asked questions male artists don't.
"I'm not really one to go on a rant about anything — I'm pretty "good vibes" — but when I'm constantly asked about guys that I've dated, it kind of pisses me off because I feel like I've succeeded enough as an artist... That's a testament to me and is incredibly inspiring, and I don't feel like I need to be known for anything else than my art. I feel like I've done a really amazing thing. Especially coming from London, which has a slightly smaller music scene, and being able to succeed in America, I feel like I'm holding the flag, and I'm very proud of that. So, as you can imagine, it's incredibly annoying if someone just wants to talk about my boyfriend, or someone that I've been with, or someone that I've supposedly been with. Half the time it's not true, and it's made up and it's silly."

Having played an action hero in "Bad Blood," would you ever try acting?
"I've studied it, and it's always been a big interest. Apparently, all I wanted to do was act when I was young. Dougie (my boyfriend) started acting, and when I read his scripts with him, I realized how hard it is. I think it's quite hard to go from doing what I'm doing into acting, because they're two totally different kinds of performance. It's harder than I thought it was going to be. But maybe, who knows? They say sometimes you find a director, and it works."

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