Elliphant’s D.I.Y. Success Gives Her Cred And Gets Her Paid

    read her it-girl résumé

    by · October 07, 2015

    Photographed by Dan Wilton

    To put it frankly, Ellinor Olovsdotter has a refreshing, give-no-fucks attitude. Known to the world as Elliphant, the singer is currently rummaging through a stylist’s rail in anticipation of her NYLON shoot here in London. “I’ve learned so much about fashion over the last few years,” she says with a hint of sarcasm. “You just throw everything on.” A few minutes later, Elli has made a decision, dressing herself in a leopard-print bomber jacket with some clashing Adidas leggings, a trucker cap, and CAT workman’s boots. Remarkably, what she has just “thrown together” looks incredible.

    Today, the 29-year-old is confident in what she believes in. Flash back to her formative years in Sweden, however, and things weren’t quite so simple: “Sweden looks like Candyland from the outside. It’s so perfect. I didn’t grow up in that perfect Sweden. I grew up on the South Island on Stockholm, where it was very working class.”

    Little Elli was somewhat of a young entrepreneur, charging drunks for peeing in bushes, making books to sell, and singing for cash. “We really understood that drunk people are easy to get money from. I was the boss for sure when I was young, until I turned 12, when I became the uncool kid in the cool kids’ club. From 13 to 16, I don’t really remember my life.”

    Olovsdotter dropped out of school at 16 to work in a kitchen with the end goal of traveling around India. “There’s nothing similar between Sweden and India. It’s chaotic. It’s full of color. It’s playful. It’s where I started to create my own personality in English,” she explains. “It’s one thing being able to speak English and it’s another being able to deliver your personality in another language.”

    At a young age, Olovsdotter decided on a career as a musician, but it wasn’t until she was waiting on a visa in Bangkok that her childhood dream started to become a reality. “I went to this reggae bar, and there was this British guy who played records and had a mic, too. I thought he was really cool. Honestly, I really wanted him. I went up and took the mic—I was trying to make him see me. It turned out later he had a girlfriend, but that night we went to some guy’s house and got shit-faced and made songs.”

    Soon afterward, Olovsdotter moved back to Sweden, bought a MacBook, and spent hours making beats on GarageBand. “For me it was like Tetris; it was a game. I was building beats and making weird sounds. I could sit for hours, but I didn’t send it out to anybody.”

    Olovsdotter soon met Tim Denéve, one part of the writing/production duo Jungle. They wrote a song together for pop singer Rebecca Simonsson, but she didn’t like it. “We put it out on SoundCloud and instantly we had meetings with Sony and Universal.”

    Photographed by Dan Wilton

    Already, Olovsdotter’s worked with some notable industry influencers during her four years making music: “I met Diplo like most people met Diplo, on fucking Twitter. The funny thing is, I didn’t have Twitter at the time,” she says. “I didn’t know who Dr. Luke was. When Katy Perry tweeted about my song, I didn’t really know who Katy Perry was, either. I couldn’t tell you a song by her. I know it was Dr. Luke who asked her to tweet, and I still have to hear about it: ‘How was it when Katy Perry tweeted about you?’” she says with a laugh. Pop divas, it would seem, are of little interest to Olovsdotter. “I’m sitting on top of shit and I’m laughing; if you are interested in false lashes and crazy dance moves, do that, but it’s still really cheap,” she says.

    For the singer, there are great exceptions to this female pop model. “Just look at MØ—Karen, she’s just a person and no one knew that this song [Major Lazer’s ‘Lean On’] would be a huge hit.” After reading about MØ, Olovsdotter connected with her via Facebook: “We have the same booker, so we ended up having a show at the same festival and we got shit-faced and stayed up talking all night.” From there, the two collaborated on “One More,” which is still Olovsdotter’s favorite single to date. Her latest song “Love Me Badder,” from her new album Living Life Golden, is something a little different; it’s Olovsdotter’s first love song. “What’s cool about this album is that it’s not just for listening to in aerobics or 2 a.m. in the club. It could be played anywhere: Straight after dinner or in the background in the office, or H&M can fucking play it when people buy clothes. I did that kind of album because I wanted to. I felt like it was time.”

    Photographed by Dan Wilton


    “Anything can happen. I’m not going to pressure myself. I want to sell my fucking songs. I want to earn money on this shit.”


    Born in 1985, in Stockholm, Sweden


    Toured as part of Charli XCX’s Girl Power North America Tour in September of 2014

    Featured on Major Lazer’s “Too Original” in May of 2015

    Released Living Life Golden, her new album, last month. “It’s like a sea lion—a little bit goofy, super pretty and gracious, but at the same time very clumsy.”


    Blisseh. It’s positive. It’s embracive. It’s strength.”


    Elliphant is the founder of the animal-rights foundation Save the Grey. It focuses on saving endangered gray animals of the world, such as elephants, rhinos, whales, sharks, and wolves.

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    Last updated: 2015-10-07T16:11:50-04:00
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