Lydia Jenkin talks to Ellie Goulding at the end of what has been a whirlwind year for the electro-pop singer with a penchant for covers.

You know a tour is going well when the artist in question doesn't know what day of the week it is.

"Wait, is it Friday?! F***. I thought it was Thursday. I guess it's still Thursday in England, so I'm allowed, but I cannot believe it's Friday. That's mental.

"I don't think a week has ever gone quicker" Brit it-girl Ellie Goulding laughs down the line from Melbourne.

You can't blame her for being a little confused - she's only been on the ground in Australia for two days, and the past 12 months have been a fairly impressive whirlwind for the 27-year- old, who hasn't really stopped touring since she released her second album of soaring, textured, electro-pop Halcyon late in 2012, and re-released it as Halcyon Days last year with 10 extra tracks, including hit single Burn.


She was allowed to spend a couple of weeks at home in London in May ("One week was a blur because I was trying to adjust back to some normality, and by the time you do that, you have to get yourself out of it again"), but apart from that she's been round and round Britain and Europe, North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand in both support slots and headline shows, as well as major festival sets.

She's appeared with Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift, written songs for various movie soundtracks, worked with Calvin Harris, Tinie Tempah, and Skrillex, won multiple international accolades, and sold more than 4 million albums and 15 million singles worldwide.

"Thank you!" she exclaims in response to congratulations. "It has been fairly constant I suppose, but I think the reason why I've stayed in such a good place is because I've never really got to a crazy high, but it's been going well at a constant level, which means I get to keep doing what I want to do, and I've stuck at it. It kind of just stays at a level where I can keep my feet on the ground."

Essentially, between her last New Zealand show in 2012 - when she played at the Studio on K Rd -- and this weekend's performance at Vector Arena, she's gone from rising indie-tronica act with folky roots, to world-conquering dance-pop star.

And yet she still sounds just like your best mate as she chortles away in her lovely husky accent (a mix of her Hereford council estate roots, and a slightly more posh London lilt, which she adopted when she first started aiming for stardom).

"I just went for a really beautiful run along the river in Melbourne actually, but I didn't get up until 1pm today, because I'm having a bit of trouble adjusting to the time zone. Last night I just ended up being awake until 4am - I had a phone call, chatted to my friend for an hour about music, and then it was kind of the time that everyone goes to bed over there so I was getting a few txts from my boyfriend [bassist Dougie Poynter from the band McFly], so I was somehow up for ages. It's all upside down."

Despite her success and her friendships with people like Perry and Swift, you can tell Goulding still sees herself as a regular joe, and prefers to be thought of as a musician, rather than a diva. She does her own makeup, works out her own on-stage clothing, plays guitar and percussion, likes poetry as much as pop music, lives in a two bedroom flat in London, and when she's on tour, is perfectly happy just hanging out in her hotel room with a book, or socialising with her crew.

"Sometimes I like to just stay in and read, or watch something - it stops me from drinking loads and smoking and keeps me a bit more focused," she laughs. "That sounds a bit anti-social, but I'm not generally anti-social. And sometimes I do love to go out for dinner and socialise with the band. I am mindful of wanting to make the most of the touring experience, and wanting to get out and experience different cities. You can easily stay in the hotel every day, and let it pass that way, but I think because I've been on tour for so long now, I want to make the days count."

She'll have Auckland up-and-comers Broods to give her some recommendations when she gets to New Zealand - the fast-rising duo have been supporting Goulding across Australia, and will also be taking the opening slot during her local dates.

"I love Broods! I'm loving having them on the tour, although I did wonder if they would think it was weird if I was listening to their music in my dressing room while they were next door" she laughs.

Of course, her show has had to change a little as she has graduated from playing clubs to playing arenas, but mostly it comes down to Goulding and the band to make it impressive for a larger crowd.

"We've definitely had to make it a bit bigger, and bit more crazy, and our confidence has been forced to rise really. We've all upped our game a bit. My stage presence has grown, and I think bigger when it comes to what people will see. I wear things that are more visually exciting, and try to make it just as good for the people down the back."

Indeed she's gone for more shiny, sparkly fabrics to go with that voluminous blonde hair, but she's stuck with a personal style that mixes sporty (she does run marathons after all) with glam rock chick, and matches the stirring nature of her music while also being practical -- she likes to be as unrestricted as possible on stage.

"I wear trainers and boots a lot, I don't wear heels, and I wear basically as little as possible, because I sweat a lot, and I run around a lot. It's kind of like a work-out for me when I'm bounding around on stage, so that's why I'm all about shorts and crop tops I guess, but I try to mix that with something that looks, I don't know, hot!"

One thing that has definitely remained the same though, is her love of covers: from her well-received version of Elton John's Your Song, which she sang for royal couple William and Kate on their wedding day, to her recently released cover of James Blake's Life Round Here, she's always listening out for songs she loves with the potential for live performance.

"That's all purely for fun, but it's also saying to myself that I can still do the things that I used to do five or six years ago, and it helps me to remember that nothing has really changed, underneath it all, not for me anyway, I'm still the same artist, and I still love writing and performing for the same reasons."

Who: British electro-pop singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding
What: Halcyon Days tour
Where and when: Performing at Vector Arena on Saturday night, TSB Bank Arena in Wellington on Monday night, and CBS Canterbury Arena in Christchurch on Wednesday night.

- TimeOut