The lyrics to Ellie Goulding’s “On My Mind” have been on repeat in my head ever since the song dropped last fall. I’m not the only one; after the success of her megahit “Love Me Like You Do” from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, you can’t shuffle through Spotify, turn on the radio or walk into a store without hearing Goulding’s fluttery vibrato.
In the past few months, the 29-year-old Brit released a new album (Delirium) and slayed at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show; she’s also about to kick off a 70-gig world takeover on January 21. “I imagine 2016 is going to be all about touring, and probably the year after as well,” she tells me as we muse over her new, surprisingly wearable 18-piece M.A.C collection—no neon purples here!—inside London’s Ham Yard Hotel.
Between designing cosmetics and unleashing anthems, Goulding credits exercise with keeping her head straight. The chart-topper makes time for half-marathons (she’s run five), boxing (her Instagram feed is filled with bare-fisted punching vids) and sweat sessions with her beau, Dougie Poynter, the bassist of Britpop supergroup McBusted. “We’ve got the same trainer, so I can be slightly slacking while he’s concentrating on Dougie,” she confesses. Not that Goulding needs the break: Nike tapped the singer to create two workouts for its training app last year. “I don’t work out to be thin,” she explains. “I love being strong more than anything.” When pal Taylor Swift needed a little muscle for her squad-packed “Bad Blood” music video, Goulding was the go-to. “Obviously I’d get the role of the bazooka girl. It was really, really heavy!”
But the sunshine blonde still has a girly side: “I love the routine of getting up, showering and then doing makeup—it relaxes me.” Though she went through a goth phase in high school (“I had a lip stud and long black hair but couldn’t always afford dye, so I’d have brown roots”), today her look is sweet and pared down. “I like to use one tone for my whole face rather than lots of different colours,” she says. Hence the collection’s neutral shadow quads, soft bronzer-blush duo and sheer pink lipstick—everyday staples as ubiquitous as her electro hits.