The crowd cheered wildly as Ellie Goulding walked on to the Main Stage at the Coachella Valley Music Festival last weekend to deliver a highly anticipated performance under the hot sun of the California desert. Dressed in a risqué bondage-inspired outfit and flanked by three back-up singers, a full band and (fittingly) flashing lights, Goulding belted out her signature electropop hits: “Burn,” “Anything Could Happen” and “I Need Your Love,” among others.
The 27-year-old British musician has developed a colossal following over the past four years, thanks to her ability to pair vulnerable lyrics about love and heartbreak with infectious electropop beats. Since the release of her debut album “Lights” in 2010, she’s become a muse for electronic music producers like Calvin Harris, Zedd and Skrillex (who she dated).
Her Coachella performance – which had a distinctly different vibe from her lower-key set at the festival in 2011 – showcased Goulding’s transformation from alternative-leaning folktronica singer to bona fide pop star; as Goulding has evolved sonically, so have her performance style and fashion sense. Now, the “Burn” singer says she’s ready for more experimentation when it comes to the kinds of songs she writes — and that means fewer songs about romance.
“I think for my next album, I will be writing about different things. I’m kind of over writing about relationships,” she told TIME before taking the stage at Coachella. “That kind of narrows it down a lot, because most people do write about those.”
Goulding says her lyrics come from a deeply personal place; all the songs she wrote for her last LP, Halcyon, felt tied together emotionally. “People always ask me why I didn’t just make a new album with the songs I put on the extended version of Halcyon,” she explained. “But I’m always very keen to start an album when it feels right, in a certain time of my life, so that the album is reflective of that, rather than just being a bunch of random songs.”
Many of the songs on Halcyon, Goulding’s second album, were inspired by a break up she was going through at the time. The title track “was about convincing myself that everything was going to be alright,” she said. Goulding cited “My Blood” as another favorite on the album, explaining that it was “an accompaniment to me because that song was about someone taking so much from me emotionally that I had nothing left.”
Goulding hasn’t begun working on her next album yet, but she said that she expects she’ll start picking up inspiration for the project when she takes a break after her tour ends in September.
Will fans take to her non-romantic material as well as they have to her love songs? To borrow from the singer’s own work, anything could happen. But if Goulding’s past success is any indication, it seems likely they will.