Elena Jane Goulding was raised in a council house in small village called Lyonshall in Herefordshire, England near the Welsh border. She was raised mostly by her mother Tracey (Clark) as her father Arthur Goulding left the home when Ellie was only five. "Your Biggest Mistake
" is about her father leaving the family home. "I don't really speak to him, and I think I got everything into that song that I could," Ellie told Spinner UK
Ellie's later songs about her absent father such as "I Know You Care
," and "Explosions
" are less bitter and angry.
Ellie started playing the clarinet at the age of 9, followed by the guitar five years later. When she was 15, she began writing her own songs, winning a singing competition during her college years.
Ellie moved from her rural home to Canterbury to study drama at the University of Kent. She recounted the experience on "Wish I Stayed
," one of the first tunes she ever wrote. Ellie told NME
it is "a song about leaving the countryside, which still pains me."
After two years at Kent, Ellie was spotted by Jamie Lillywhite of Turn First Artists at a university talent contest. After successfully performing to the head of the company, she was told to leave university and was set up in a house in West London. Lillywhite became her manager and A&R.
In 2009, Ellie was signed to Polydor. Her first single, "Under The Sheets
" was recorded in her producer's bedroom at the University of Surrey. It peaked at #53 on the UK Singles Chart following a successful appearance on Later... with Jools Holland
Ellie came to prominence after winning the Brit Awards Critics' Choice prize for the act most likely to break through in 2010, an award which is chosen by a panel of newspaper, magazine and website editors and record label bosses. "When I found out, I had a little squeal, I had a little cry and I had a little fall down," she said.
Ellie has had a number of amazing experiences as a result of her musicianship. One of the highlights was in 2011, when she was invited to perform at the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. She sang "Your Song
" for the just married pair's first dance, followed by a selection of her own material and and several of the royal couple's personal favourites. She said the Royal Wedding was something she'll "treasure forever."
Ellie first found herself in the gossip columns during her relationship with BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James. They first got together back in August 2010 at one of the singer's early gigs, but split up in December 2011 on good terms. Many of the songs on her second album, Halcyon, are based on their break-up. Speaking to The Sun, Ellie said: "My songs are always about things I experience and my ex knows that and my guy now knows that and even my friends know that - everyone knows that. Greg and I are still friends. Yes, I was worried about what he'd think about these songs but he's heard them and is fine."
After recording the track "Summit
" with Skrillex, Ellie and the American dubstep DJ progressed into a seven month relationship. She penned the single "Anything Could Happen
" about embarking on a relationship with Skrillex after breaking up with Greg James. Ellie explained to Cosmopolitan
magazine: "I wrote 'Anything Could Happen' because I'd been in a relationship with Greg or two years, who I absolutely adored and still do. Then that ended very unexpectedly and it threw me off. I didn't expect another relationship for a long time after that. Then all of a sudden I met this other person [Skrillex], and it was crazy – it came from nowhere."
Ellie had a fear of the dark when she was a child and she still can only go to sleep with the lights on. Her single "Lights
" was inspired by the phobia. The singer told 97.1 AMP/Los Angeles: ""Sometimes if I've had a couple of drinks and I come back and just like lie on my bed and fall asleep I wake up and realize that there isn't a light on and I have to turn a light on."
Outside of her music career, Ellie is an avid runner. On her concert tours, she invites fans to go for runs along with her in various cities. She told Cosmopolitan magazine: "I've always worked out and love running; that's the most important thing in my life. I think it's a survival-instinct thing: if I've got nothing else, I've always got my fitness and health."
Ellie is a keen reader and shares her love of tomes with everyone she knows at Christmas time. "I like gifting people with books and alcohol," she told Us Weekly. "My favourite book is Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks."
Ellie Goulding married Old Etonian art dealer Caspar Jopling at York Minster Cathedral on August 31, 2019. Several members of the royal family - including Princess Eugenie and Sarah, Duchess of York - attended the wedding. The guest list also included the musicians Katy Perry and James Blunt.
The reception was held at Castle Howard, the setting for the 1980s TV drama Brideshead Revisited.