How Ellie Goulding Went From Clarinet Geek To Pop Star Chic

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(Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

(Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

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She’s a remarkable chanteuse who wrote and produced her forthcoming album Halcyon, but did you know that Ellie Goulding got her start as a musician playing the clarinet?

“I love classical music and I would love to play in an orchestra,” Goulding told CBS Local about her formative years with the woodwind instrument. “But by itself [the clarinet is] kind of grating. And I played it for years. Then I was like, ‘No, I’m done with clarinet and I’m going to play guitar.’ I self-taught, I’m self-taught at guitar.”

One major advantage the clarinet has over guitar: maintaining a manicure. Goulding plays largely with her fingers and the years of plucking have wrecked havoc on her nails. Well, the guitar and her self-admitted bad habit.

“I do not have great nails and it’s because I have this habit — the camera can’t see me doing it, but I’m always picking my nails. Which is gross, sorry. I have to wear fake ones if I want them to look decent. Also I can’t play guitar otherwise.”

Manicures are irrelevant to the other duty Goulding took on for Halcyon as co-producer. But the singer insists she was already co-producing on her first album as well.

“To be honest, I’ve always co-produced my stuff. Even on the last record, I just forgot to put it in the album sleeve,” Goulding laughs. “I say that in the sense that me and Jim [Eliot, co-producer], both of our efforts, creativ[ity] I suppose, ideas and everything went 50/50 into a track.”

It is an important credit for many reasons, but one of the major reasons being the lack of female record producers. The BBC resurrected the question of where all the female record producers are in an August 2012 article, pointing out that while women like Rihanna, Katy Perry and Adele dominate the charts that female domination does not extend to behind the mixing board. Goulding intends to stand up and raise her hand, taking full credit for what she’s accomplished.

“I was like, ‘Do I write down that I was co-producer or not?’ But then I realized that it was actually really important because pretty much I come up with a lot of stuff. I felt like it was only fair. Me and Jim made my record like kids, really. We experimented with sounds and played around, messed around. We’d mess around to the point [where] we’d find these really special little things. Like vocal things or lyrics. It really was experimentation that made the record.”

That production experience sets Goulding miles ahead of the other women dominating the pop charts, who neither produce nor play any instruments. It means she is directing her own art with a depth most artists only dream of, be it experimentally or with purpose.

-Courtney E. Smith, CBS Local

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