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Ellie Goulding: No more clarinet, but maybe some karaoke

Ellie Goulding still thinks of herself as a singer-songwriter, even if the success of her pulsing dance singles "Lights" and "Anything Could Happen" has made it so nobody else does.

Now something of a real pop star--after a record 33 weeks on the chart, "Lights" rose to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100--Goulding still is modest and approachable. As she prepared to embark on a tour to support her most recent album, the haunting, electronic "Halcyon," RedEye caught up with the artist from her flat in England to discuss her songwriting approach, pick up some karaoke tips and talk about baked beans. Goulding will play a sold-out show Jan. 29 at the Aragon Ballroom.

It seems like people think of you much differently in the U.S. than in the U.K., as more of an electronic artist. Is that true?
You know, I don't really know why there's such a difference, but I kind of like it. I like the idea of being more of an electronic artist. I'm quite lucky that I get to be different Ellies, I suppose. It's quite cool. Like it wouldn't be unusual for me to play guitar with a folk band, but also it wouldn't be unusual for me to go up and sing the basics.

How has being embraced by the electronic community here changed your approach to songwriting or production?
I guess I try not to think about it too much. I just keep writing. I can write a song that can be played with just guitar or just piano, and then it can become something entirely different. You just never know. When I write something I never know what the final product is going to sound like.

You used to play the clarinet. Can we expect any of that on this tour?
Yeah, I don't think so.

If you were offered the opportunity to soundtrack a movie, what kind of movie do you think you would soundtrack?
I'd love to score a film. That would be amazing. I sort of love the whole Disney/Dreamworks thing, as well as the whole, like, cute indie film type thing. But I don't know, I saw this film "Winter's Bone" the other day, and it's a quite dark film, it's kind of a thriller, and I loved the soundtrack. It's all this guitar ... I think, the same way I'm viewed as an artist, I think I can take on a few different things.

One thing your music has soundtracked is the trailer for HBO's "Girls," which is a show about being in your 20s. As someone in your mid-20s, what do you think about this period of life? It's very confusing for a lot of people.
Well I'd say, like, even more confusing than being a teenager, for me. I've found the last few years to be definitely the biggest changes. Because it's you becoming more of an adult ... I'm still in that. I've done a lot of stuff in the last few years and I've met a lot of people and I've had relationships come and go.

What do you think the biggest challenges for someone in his or her mid-20s are?
I think finding what you like, what you're going to do for the rest of your life. I have friends who are doing stuff and they're at a point where they're not sure what their career is going to be. I think it's quite a strange time, trying to figure out what you're doing for real, in the real world.

Are you at all a fan of karaoke?
I do really like karaoke, actually. We just did karaoke not too long ago ... I think I sang "Single Ladies."

Do you have any tips for someone like me who's terrible at singing?
Just be a bit drunk.

When you're on tour in the U.S., is there any food or product that you always miss or wish you could find and can't find anywhere?
I miss the chocolate ... it's the one thing you can't get right from England. Baked beans, Heinz baked beans. Stuff like that. You guys haven't any of that. I guess like, in general, the cold weather and stuff that's typical. I do miss quite a lot, I'm probably going to miss quite a lot. But at the same time I am really excited.
Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic

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