Elliphant On Living Life Golden
In a world where publicists monitor every word, images are curated with painstaking detail and an artists’ story is manufactured to generate the most likes, plays and ticket sales, Elliphant, born Ellinor Olovsdotter is a breath of fresh air. Honest, open and in every way herself, the Swedish pop singer and songwriter is an open book. When she says, “I have never had a secret in my entire life,” you believe her.
Her career started almost by accident singing at a party in Paris where she was discovered by Tim Deneve who then started to help write and produce songs with her and Ted Krotkiewski. Their tracks attracted the attention early on from blogs and tastemakers like Diplo, before she was picked up by TEN Music Group and eventually Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe label.
She released her studio album A Good Idea in Sweden and has now released her new LP Living Life Golden. The LP has features from the likes of Major Lazer, Skrillex, Azealia Banks and MØ with production from her frequent partners in Tommy Tysper, Dr. Luke, Dave Sitek and Joel Little among others.
Over the course of her career she has worked with the likes of Diplo, Skrillex, Gaslamp Killer, Major Lazer, Twin Shadow, David Guetta and many others in a quite diverse and electronic heavy collaborative discography.
We had the chance to chat with Elliphant about her album, her battle with ADHD and how she has turned it into a positive, her mother’s struggle with drugs, the Dr. Luke and Kesha case and much more.
What experience travelling impacted your music the most?
I think travelling is the whole reason for even doing this. I mean, that was the first big mission in like the world. It was the first time in my life I was comfortable and I realized that I had the best passport in the world and that I could just go wherever I wanted. From there I think if I would end up not travelling, I think I wouldn’t have been interesting in making songs, or writing music or anything, so the whole inspiration for the whole project is travelling, and this urge to connect the world I guess.
It kind of gives me a home, like I have friends everywhere. Wherever I go there is going to be one person or two that would like to take me out, show me where to buy the ganja and have a good time with me.
Was their one place that you felt that really impacted you?
Yeah, there is a place. In Goa, it’s called Arambol, and when I was travelling I did a lot of design stuff. There is a very perfect place to go up to sell bikinis and dresses I made in Indonesia. I would go up to sell there for like months at a time, and get into the whole very old hippie culture and tradition that is over there. There was music everywhere with people from all over the world that come with their music and their guitars and their recording studios and there were jam nights everywhere.
That was when I was like; if they can do it I can do it! So I started going up on stage sometimes and doing some spoken words. I always really liked to sing at techno parties. Not necessarily sing, but say stuff in the mic with a lot of echoes. I always thought it was fun to go on open mic nights. There was a big scene of that, and I spent so much time in the years where I found myself I guess, where I really turned into a grown woman, and I had all of that around me. Also, I guess its just a trip being my mom’s kid, she is just crazy about music, stupid about music! It is just in my blood I guess, but I had no idea actuallythat it was going to be this part of my life that was a very big surprise for me, big surprise.
You’ve turned your ADHD and Dyslexia into a positive. Why have you been so vocal about this?
I don’t know! I mean I’m talking about it because I think we are human and not changing so much. It is more the society that is changing in the way we see things, even before these sort of industrial times there was a bigger space and a place for that energy that people have, that now it has diagnosed people. There was energy that fitted how people worked, like the milkman and the fish man. I think for people like us, it is a big disgrace saying that there is something wrong or that you’re sick. Even if people don’t say I am sick, they still believe I should have medicine you give to sick people in my head. They say this medicine will take me to a place where I adapt more to this society and that’s scary! I’m not surprised that they do that — I mean it’s the devil! The medicine companies and the societies, its run by the devil and that’s okay but what I think it’s weird that no one talks about it, that no one is like reacting to this.
I’m thinking “because they didn’t have parents that took drugs, obviously”. They don’t know that my mom did a lot of bad things, but the day they put drugs into me, she would have stopped that, she would never accept that. I was diagnosed when I was not in her care anymore, but if I was 12 and I was diagnosed, she would maybe keep the pills to sell it to her friends or keep it herself. She would definitely not give any medicine to her 12-year-old kid because she is a drug addict. I know because drugs have been a part of my life since I was a child, I always knew what it was. For me [the medicine] this feels like drugs and I need to talk about that, at least make people know, and be honest about it. I’m not going to take some big side for it either — I’m not everybody’s superhero. I’m just trying to fix my own life here, and be open with who I am. That’s all I can do.
When you are writing music, how do you choose whether something is going to be a rap or a song?
I never know, I have never rapped the same lyric, sang the same verse or screamed the same lyric. I still don’t know what the best way to do this song is. I get stuck in stuff like that sometimes. There are so many ways for expressing a lyric.
So how do you eventually decide?
Usually I have to go to the producer of the song and in the end, I have never really finished a song one hundred percent. There are always different angles and ideas of how we can change things. I think that is just who I am as a person, choices have been very hard for me in life, small things, like “what ice cream” or “what is your favorite color?” These things are hard for me. But if I get someone that says “oh this is great, we do this” then I am over it, I am not going to think about the other way of doing it any more, the day is set. Until that point I am a bit lost.
Who has been your favorite producer or artist to work with?
I don’t know, that is stuff, I don’t know. There are so many different ones. I have a really good connection with Skrillex, Diplo and Dave Sitek. Everybody has their own style of working and their own life that looks different from others life. With Dave Sitek I go up to his house and stay there like for five days. We just stay up all night and sleep all day. We just sweat and make songs. It’s a different thing that is amazing. Then I have the people I started with and the people that have been there from the beginning that I have obviously a connection there.
I don’t have any favorites. They are all amazing people. I am really lucky with all of those people. I wouldn’t want to say. MØ is absolutely a very good friend — she is someone I think is a very good friend. I know I can call her in any situation, even if I want to borrow money, or if I want to tell her that I have HIV, or if I am going to whatever, I can do this with her, she is my friend. It is very important to nurture those connections you get because you throw yourself in and before you know it, it’s a storm you’re trying to catch dollars in the wind and you sometimes catch one and you have to be very selective and then you need to nurture those relationships.
How is this album different from what you have done in the past?
I have been touring straight these two years while this album has been created so it is not like the first album I did, which was only released in Sweden. Of course it was music, my first significant experience. I was running a breakfast in a really nice restaurant in Stockholm and I was working there Monday through Friday and I went from work to the studio, probably three to four days a week and made an album for a long time maybe six or seven months, and just a lot of songs, with the same kind of people.
For this one, every time I am down in L.A, I just do millions of sessions with different producers. Sometimes I have made a song with one person and then the production wasn’t good but still he is on it because he was in the room when I wrote the song and wrote the song in his track and then you take that same song and then re produce it with someone else, and then stuff is just flying around because people are trying to fix the fact that it is not done yet, because there is no time for musicians.
I think the other album had maybe even too much in it. I could have stripped down a lot of things. Sometimes when I listen to it I would get stressed out but this album feels a little bit like it’s very all over the world but in the end it is really, really good. It has actually turned into something that I am so proud of it, and I am so happy for every song. I think it is kind of in itself very cool and very ready for the world.
I hope that next album I can just focus on these producers that I like, and put away a certain amount of time and just do work, not go out touring and jumping in and out of the studios here and there.
What is something people might not know about you?
I think, I don’t know there is nothing like, I never have secrets — I have never had a secret in my entire life.
You are very honest and very open.
Yeah, It’s not so sexy, but I have a lot of friends. No I don’t have any secrets, maybe people don’t know that, but that’s true. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have integrity, I have a lot of integrity, I am very aware of myself and I am thinking about myself as something that is real in the universe and everything I do can make a change. But I don’t know why you have to have secrets. Even sometimes my sisters and brothers get angry with me because I always tell their secrets to my dad. I just can’t even keep a secret. I can keep it if someone told me something when I drink and it is not so interesting then I can keep it. But if it something that is really bad, don’t tell me! Maybe I won’t say the name but I will definitely tell the secret. Maybe not expose who it is, but I will talk about it.
As someone signed to Dr. Luke’s label, how do you feel about the whole Kesha situation?
No I don’t say too much about that. I have never been connected to that whole America thing really, even if I talk to Luke sometimes. He has ideas and he has helped me finish songs sometimes. I really like him, he is family and I like him very much but I am not involved in the rest of his company. It is just him I see sometimes, I didn’t even know who Kesha was. I don’t know anything about that. That is what I feel about it. It is very, very serious stuff.
That is the thing, I can never say because I don’t know her. I don’t know anything about how their relationship was more than small things that I’ve heard but I think it is something. If this has happened or is something that has not happened it is still not for the world to decide these things. It is a very private matter and I think even if it would be so that he raped her, which is crazy, but if he did that then I don’t understand how the mother can like expose her child like that, and put it out for the world. It doesn’t feel like you do that if it was real. I have been through sexual Stuff myself and I just feel like this is very exposed and I hope for all the people involved that they take it down a little bit because maybe they hurt someone forever by this.