Elliphant: “NEVER KILL CREATIVITY”The Swedish rapper is a superstar in the making, thanks to breaking the rules and embracing her flaws
Katy Perry is a fan (“Elliphant is the baddest b-tch in the game”), and DJs such as Diplo and David Guetta use her unique vocals to improve their tracks.
The 30-year-old Swede now hopes to conquer the pop world with her new album, Living Life Golden. And her blend of pop, dancehall and hip hop is as wonderful as it is crazy.
THE RED BULLETIN: A rapper from Sweden with a Jamaican accent making electronic pop music. Surely that’s no way to go about cracking the charts?
ELLIPHANT: I’ve been hearing that kind of thing since the start of my career. One of the first lessons you learn in the music biz is to keep your product clear and make sure people know what they’re getting. But I’m going against all those rules by not sticking to one genre. It could be fun to make an EP of songs that clearly go together. But for now I’m not putting myself in a box.
Is breaking the rules part of a masterplan?
I do it because it feels right. If I had to pick one genre, I’d get bored. We’re forced into making decisions too often. We have to go for this or that. It’s always either or. That social pressure is dangerous. In my songs, I encourage people to break out of their black-and-white thinking patterns. I like grey-zone people.
People who are in between things. Our society is scared of human beings who don’t make up their mind. It’s seen as a weakness. In school you are supposed to make decisions that determine your future. People who have a hard time making those choices are quickly stigmatised as outsiders.
It sounds as if you’re speaking from experience.
I was diagnosed as having ADHD and dyslexia when I was 19. I felt relieved, because finally I had an explanation for why I had found it so difficult to follow rules.
Did you get things under control with medication?
No, I started travelling a lot, especially to India. I was incredibly lucky not to be prescribed medication.
People who aren’t willing to be subordinated tend to be sedated in this day and age. But pills don’t save people. Pills numb them. If we’d done this 300 years ago, we would have killed all these creative minds, all the grey-zone people, and it would have eliminated so much creativity. Van Gogh might not have cut off his ear, but then maybe he wouldn’t have painted many of his masterpieces either.
How do you deal with your dyslexia?
I embrace it. I use the fact that I get words mixed up all the time, because of my dyslexia, to my benefit. My song Ciant Hear It should actually be called ‘Can’t Hear It’. But I don’t give a sh-t! The title has more attitude that way.
So a flaw gives you a USP?
Exactly. Don’t listen to the rules, don’t create a prison for yourself. And most importantly: don’t let anyone tell you who you are. Native Americans used to send their kids into the forest on their own when they were 12 years old. Do you know why?
So they could find out who they were and what they were best at for themselves. You don’t understand how much you are actually doing for other people until you really explore yourself. By the time they were 22, most of my friends in Sweden had taken out mortgages to buy an apartment, because they thought that’s what they were supposed to do. Now a lot of them are working in unfulfilling jobs to pay off those mortgages.
What’s the secret to a fulfilled life?
It’s actually very simple. Do you know what most people say on their deathbeds? “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard,” and, “I wish I had said ‘yes’ more often in life.” I think the key to a good life is to stick to those principles.
Get Elliphant’s new album Living Life Golden here.