Ellie Goulding has had a one busy year. She released her third album, Delirium, to critical acclaim, received her first Grammy nomination (Best Pop Solo Performance for "Love Me Like You Do"), and embarked on a mostly sold-out world tour. So it's not surprising that, hours before taking the stage at Coachella, she feels more tired than nervous. "I'm so exhausted," she told InStyle in her trailer ahead of her set. In fact, the British singer known for her breathy vocals recently tweeted that she'll be taking a much-needed, long overdue break from the music biz imminently. But first, she'll crush her performance, because that's just the kind of woman she is. Below, we talked with Goulding about the perils of touring and why girl squads are essential.
How do you typically unwind after a performance?
Have a drink! Then I get out of my sweaty clothes and eat. I can't eat before a show or else I'll literally puke.
What are you planning on eating after the show tonight?
Anything vegan. There are some good taco places around here.
How long have you been a vegan? Why the change?
About three years. I was vegetarian in my teens as well. It's better for the environment; it's more sustainable. I wouldn't kill an animal, so I wouldn't want anyone to kill one for me. It's healthier, too.
What do you hope to accomplish during your time off?
I haven't really had a huge amount of time to think about the things I've achieved and done, and there's some things I want to focus on. I'm a patron of a homeless shelter, The Marylebone Project, which temporarily protects women from vulnerable situations. I also want to promote vegetarianism a little bit more.
What's the hardest part about touring?
Probably packing and unpacking. We're all very taut because we're constantly lugging suitcases around from hotel room to bus and hotel room to bus. It can be tough, because you lose all sorts of stuff. It's such a crazy lifestyle, but I've chosen it.
Other than lifting luggage, how do you get in shape?
I'll do an hour of cardio: sprints, running, burpies, squat jumps, box jumps. I'm really into high intensity stuff because it keeps you more focused, but boxing is probably my favorite.
What's your approach to festival style?
You're a proud member of Taylor Swift's squad, and girl gangs in general are getting more attention for being unapologetically feminist. What makes these friendships so important?
My friendships are everything to me. I have some of the most powerful women in the music industry working for me. It's a man's business, but look where we are: We're playing the main stage tonight at Coachella. That's a testimony to how things are changing. Personally, I call myself a feminist because I believe in equal rights between the sexes. It's very rare that I feel in any way lesser because I'm female. There are things that are obviously misogynistic in the music industry, in terms of what women can write about and what men can write about and what the reaction is. For example, I wrote "On My Mind" about a one-night stand, and yet, if a man does it, it's fine. That pissed me off. But I wrote it, and it was accepted. So I'm always fighting for it. I think it's important for women to be physically strong, too.
Speaking of, you recently partnered with Pantene for their "Strong Is Beautiful" campaign. When do you feel the strongest?
On stage. I feel like I'm in an amazing position. You have to go up there and accept that you're up there for a reason and kill it.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.