As Elliphant's new track ‘Therapy’ drops – the first release from her forthcoming album Troll – the Swedish singer, songwriter, rapper and all-round powerhouse opens up about the majestic motherhood of nature, primal power, and her 10th year in the music game
Elliphant is covered in cockroaches. With each flash of a photographer’s camera, lighting up the dark and cavernous space of Stockholm’s Värmeverket, their shiny oval bodies are revealed across her shoulders and torso, their spindly legs and antenna climbing her arms. They’re fake, but the lauded 37-year-old Swedish musician – whose real name is Ellinor Olovsdotter, and who introduces herself as Ellie – was well and truly prepared to be covered in the real deal for the photoshoot. “I’m not scared of cockroaches,” Elliphant says later, during a cigarette break between looks. “When I was a kid living in Thailand, I was obsessed with them. I do like them a lot.”
This is the gritty, unflinching way of Elliphant that has garnerned her legions of fans over the course of a career packed with headline tours, award wins and chart-topping collaborations. Fans that are now waiting with keen anticipation for Troll, the upcoming album produced by Johan Wedel and mixed by Richard Silver, that is the focus of the day’s photoshoot. And after something of a hiatus, Elliphant is leaning into the grittiest output yet, cockroaches and all. “It’s probably my wildest album,” she says of Troll.
I think this is the most vulgar and provocative and hardest work I’ve ever done.
“I did drop a lot of crazy music in the past, especially features with different DJs,” she goes on. “But for my own work, I think this is the most vulgar and provocative and hardest work I’ve ever done.”
The freshly-released first drop from the album is the single ‘Therapy’ which will satiate any fans missing Elliphant’s crude melting pot of electronic punk, grime and hip hop, with its raw, pulsating and anthem-like feeling. A reflection on her own inner work, it's as provocative as ever (“I always want to provoke, to make people lose it”), and while nature has always been a part of her music, this time it’s more primal than ever.
I’m a Viking. I do think we lost something when we stopped listening to the folklore of nature. I think humanity is a bit lost because of that.
“It’s about the majestic motherhood of nature. We’ve lost our connection with nature, we’re no longer in the tango with nature. Instead, we’re challenging it,” Elliphant says, gesturing to the greenery around us, outside the venue of the shoot. “This is my hood. This is where I come from. I’m a Viking. I do think we lost something when we stopped listening to the folklore of nature. I think humanity is a bit lost because of that.”
The shoot pays tribute to this reverence for nature. As styled by Christopher Insulander, the garments – including an estensive, sprawling gown by Martin Bergström, are accompanied by mossy growths, twigs and freshly picked wildflowers, even blueberries that will be become Elliphant’s makeup look later in the day. The album’s name holds a clue to Elliphant’s connection to nature too. “Every song is inspired by the Troll: Tribal, Royal, Old, Loyal, Lover,” Elliphant reels off. “There’s this vision of a troll leaving the forest and trying to evolve into society,” she explains, “and I also like trolls because it’s like, internet trolls – the vibe of this album is very in your face. A lot of people will be like ‘f*** this’, a lot of people won’t listen because it’s too much for them. That’s also part of Troll.”
Elliphant has been, in her own words, “away from the scene for a little while”, with the album marking the close of a hiatus that included a return to Stockholm from Los Angeles, the Covid period, and the birth of her daughter. “This feels like a comeback,” she says, “but on my own terms.”
What exactly are Elliphant’s own terms? For one, she’s taking things at her own pace this time round. “It was very much like a McDonalds before, it was like, ‘OK, we need two more songs for the album, just work at it, find them’. Now it’s been like, ‘if they come to me, they come’. It’s been a very relaxed process.”
I’m a Viking. I do think we lost something when we stopped listening to the folklore of nature.
Her creative process has also been completely transformed by her transition into motherhood. “It has been very, you know, smelling breast milk. Because I’ve been doing all of this with my baby, while breastfeeding,” Elliphant says. “She started talking last year,” she says of her five-year-old daughter, and we were like, ‘Oh! She needs to be a feature on this album!’ Listen out for her hook in the newly released track Therapy, ‘Mitt huvut, mitt huvut’, (‘My head, my head’). “On this album, it’s only the one hook,” Elliphant says. “But there will be more, she’s working on it.”
Photo: Ninja Hannah
There's no wavering of Elliphant's rebellious spirit, but the way that she talks about motherhood, it’s clear it has been grounding. “This album has a better foundation because I have a better foundation. I have bigger priorities now with my daughter and my family."
Marking Elliphant's 10th year in the music game, Troll is set to be released later in 2023. And fans can rest assured there won't be another hiatus on the horizon, as the album marks the beginning of what the artist calls in a play on the word 'trilogy, a 'Trollology'. “My vision and hope is that this will be a ‘Trollology’. I want to stick to something, because that’s been a challenge. I can’t stick to anything. I can’t follow any rules, " Elliphant laughs. "But this project is with one producer – and some guest producers – that will hold their own to the whole thing. I want to do something that sticks together for a minute, so people can get grounded with it a bit before I change my mind again."
Styled by Christopher Insulander
Make up by Johanna Jarmide