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Popular music has long been a sanctuary for odd birds. But even by those standards, Ellinor Olovsdottir, the unforgettable voice behind such singles as Down on Life and Love Me Badder, is a rare species.
“Society very much tried to change me as a kid,” she says of her upbringing in a pre-gentrified rough neighborhood in southern Stockholm. “They said I was wrong and everything I wanted was wrong.”
She escaped as soon as she turned 18, and began travelling the world with a backpack, a notebook and a desire for experience and defiant self-expression. During that time Elli (the name she prefers) discovered music as yet another super-open creative channel in her brain. Fast forward a few years and she’s adopted the moniker Elliphant, signed to Sweden’s Record Company TEN, followed by Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe Records, put out several hype-stoking EPs, starred in an iPad commercial and is now preparing to release her long-awaited North American debut, Living Life Golden.
“The thing that makes my project special is that I never had a favorite genre and I never had a pretentious idea of my music,” Elli says of her unconventional path. “People have their sound. They have their magic that they're holding onto, their way of doing things. If I looked at myself like that, I could have been broken really quickly. Instead, I am very free.”
Elli’s unconventional, free-spirited approach to life and art may set her apart in the pop world, but given the response to her music thus far, it appears to be exactly what the pop world has been waiting to hear. From the moment she released her first single, the deliciously cheeky, lo-fi Tekkno Scene to her most recent banger Step Down, there’s been an unrelenting clamor to define and categorize her unique, rasta-pop meets hip-hop meets dance hall sound. She’s been compared to MIA, toured the world with Charli XCX and counts everyone from Diplo to Skrillex to TV On the Radio’s Dave Sitek as a collaborators and creative co-conspirators.