Swedish native Ellinor Olovsdotter, better known as Elliphant, has been on a rapid rise to stardom since the release of her debut single Tekkno Scene in 2012. She was initially discovered whilst working together with fellow Swedish production duo Jungle, and her early music was already drawing comparisons to massive names like M.I.A and Diplo.
Since then Elliphant has released several EPs and worked with some of the biggest names in music including Diplo, but also Skrillex, Pusha T, Ras Fraser Jr and MØ. The music she has released has come from a variety of styles, from pop-ballads like Love Me Badder to hard and fast bangers such as Revolusion. She has described her style as provocative pop, and it’s certainly one that’s hard to pin down under conventional genre headings.
Now she’s on the cusp of the release of her new LP, due out later this month. Elliphant is also coming off a slew of shows in Australia over summer including some huge shows at Falls Festival. We caught up with one of music’s most enigmatic yet charming characters to talk about working with Diplo and Skrillex, why Australian mosh-pits are the best mosh-pits, and just how brutal it can be to give everything on stage night after night.
Music Feeds: You just finished up your Australian tour a short time ago which included playing at Falls Festival. How was the tour?
Elliphant: It was so much fun, it was beautiful. The shows are amazing there, so loving, and it just felt really, really fun to go over there with my project.
MF: Did Australia end up being anything like what you expected it to be like, any crazy stories to share?
E: Shit man, I don’t know… There was nothing that I didn’t expect. It’s just been amazing. I’ve never done so many shows in one country where there were mosh-pits in every gig. I was very happy about that, very proud. I’d also never had a gig on New Year’s Eve before, and leading up to it (Falls Festival) there had been a big fire so they had to move the festival.
So I was in this weird place and we managed to create this crazy, beautiful energy with the sunset… I was in Australia for a while actually; the actual tour was very stressful, jumping all over playing shows. I had some oysters actually in Tasmania, which may sound stupid, but that was a real life experience down at the festival down there. I would love to go there again, it was so beautiful. There was just so much going on, there are heaps of stories, I don’t have just a couple… but it was just amazing.
MF: There’s obviously a lot of raw energy and intensity in an Elliphant live show, and you’ve become known for giving everything on stage. Why do you think these things are reflected in your live gigs?
E: I think because it’s a little bit garage, in the sense that it’s still not actually figured out. Sometimes when you see live shows you see it being very choreographed, where the people walk in four steps towards the camera here or walk to the left at this specific point. For me, this is the first time I’ve done anything like this, and the reason why it’s raw is the simple fact that it’s still so new to me. It’s still very raw and I still don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.
I’m just giving everything I’ve got all the time and everything you see is everything I’ve got. I’m not cool at all, I’m dying every night. I look cool but I’m not cool, it’s actually kind of devastating, brutal and very emotional. And it’s every night sometimes for a long time. I’m not professional.
MF: You must still love it though…
E: That’s exactly what I mean; I love it so much that I give it absolutely everything I’ve got. I’m all over it. Obviously it’s an unnatural way [to perform]. I’m going to the highest place I can go as a person, and then you’ve got an hour backstage before you jump into a car and go and crash for the night because you have to be up at 6am the next morning. And then the same thing happens again and again.
On those days it’s not amazing, but on stage it’s amazing every fucking time. Even if it’s fourteen people coming to the show, I will give everything I’ve got. I can’t bring myself down. I don’t do TV performances because they usually go to shit, because I just scream everything I’ve got, I have no voice control. I just go from zero to one hundred. At the start I had no idea what I was doing, suddenly I was recording songs and suddenly I was touring.
I never really learnt how to control my voice. I’m in front of everybody and still learning, for now it’s all about the love of being there. I think that’s why people feel something. Some people hate it because it really touches people. Most shows are so organised and every night it’s going to be the same, and some people love that kind of experience. I’m happy that the people who found Elliphant appreciate my action and expression, and have the respect for what I’m doing. I need to know that people appreciate that.
MF: One of the things that people love about your music is how diverse it is. Is it important to you that people can’t put your music under a label or in a box?
E: It means that it’s a natural reflection of how this project was created. Very organically, naturally growing into something. I never had a vision. I really loved techno music, and I’ve been surrounded by all kinds of music. My mum made my listen to everything from Sex Pistols to Frank Sinatra, everything. Music has been such a big part of my life, so it was never a rebellious thing for me to make music, for me to become a fan of something.
So music has been very free for me from the beginning. When I got the chance to do music I was just open to all different things, and if you are open like that you can be surprised at the different things you come away with. I didn’t have much but I realised that I was brave enough to explore myself, and not just do what people expected me to do.
MF: Your debut album is due out later this month; you must be pretty excited to get all this new music out to your fans?
E: This album was made very differently; I was signed two and a half years ago. I started Elliphant; I had just finished my regular job and started to take music seriously. I got an opportunity from the label and to work with Skrillex and Diplo, and also to work with other people who listened and became interested like Joel Little. I got the opportunity to work with so many different people. I jumped around into studios and was already working on the album back then.
Half of the album is probably two years old and some songs are pretty new. I was just doing selections when I did EPs, but I would just leave songs out because I thought ‘this is an album song’. So the album has some songs that are a little bit more serious, like Under My Skin I guess.
It’s not so much club music because I’ve been doing a lot of featuring on those sorts of songs with producers and DJs. I felt like on this album I wanted to bring in that other, little bit more rock and pop side of myself.
MF: You’ve worked with lots of different collaborators over the past few years including Skrillex, MØ Diplo and lots more. Why do you think it’s important for artists to collaborate with other artists?
E: For me it was a natural thing. Diplo was the first person to play me on radio. Diplo started playing my songs on Radio One, and I started making collaborations with various DJs very early on. This was the first experience of making music. So for me I’m now just that kind of artist.
I’m lucky that I’ve had the chance to work with other kinds of producers, but now what is expected from me is short, cool hook lines that DJs use. It’s really a new way of being an artist, and many people are going more and more that way. You don’t have to make these traditional songs anymore. They’re bringing club music to a commercial place. You can hate on that type of change but I think it’s really cool.
MF: You worked on One More with Joel Little and you’ve worked with him again on this album. What do you like about working with him?
E: He’s great, he’s amazing. He’s one of my absolute favourite people to work with. I don’t know what I like about him; I just get his vibe I guess. For me when you work with people it’s a lot about the normal chemistry that you would have with a person that you’d want to be friends with. I just really love him and care about him and his family. We just had an instant connection.
In our first session we ever had together we made two or three amazing songs. We still have a couple of really great songs for the future that we are very excited about. He’s one of the most effective people that I work with. It’s not just about him being an amazing producer; it’s something he gets out of me. He’s well-natured and very chilled. He’s also very different from the other people I’ve worked with.
Elliphant’s new album ‘Living Life Golden’ is out March 25th, grab a copy here.