Following a surprise split, the "Ex's & Oh's" singer says, "I'm protecting my joy"

Products in this story are independently selected and featured editorially. If you make a purchase using these links we may earn commission.

Elle King isn’t letting her past haunt her.

The “Ex’s & Oh’s” singer, 28, is moving on from her surprise marriage and sudden divorce the best way she knows how: music.

“I pulled myself out of a really, really, really tough place,” King — who will perform in the live Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday — tells PEOPLE of her shocking split. “I’m really proud of myself.”

In February 2016, the Grammy nominee announced she was engaged to new boyfriend Andrew “Fergie” Ferguson just a couple of weeks after meeting him. The singer went on to document their love story on Instagram and even shared wedding plans on a March episode of Say Yes to the Dress.

Then, in May, King revealed in an emotional Instagram post that she and Ferguson had actually secretly married three weeks after they met — and that they had separated, writing at the time, “My heart is broken. My soul aches. I am lost.”

Elle King - 1
Credit: Cori Chalumeau/Samsung

Nearly six months later, King is in a better place.

“I don’t want to say it’s the best place I’ve ever been because there’s always room to go higher — or get higher,” she quips. “I am having a lot of fun. I do this thing, I call it protecting my joy, and there’s like a 10-foot radius around me that’s like a bum-out-free zone. I took a lot of things out of my life that were dead weight, and I just have a different outlook; I just surround myself with better people and just make music all the time. It’s just so great; it’s awesome.”

And her heartache fueled her forthcoming sophomore album, the follow-up to her acclaimed 2015 debut Love Stuff.

RELATED VIDEO: Singer Elle King Says She ‘Skipped Out’ On Her Wedding in Favor of Rock Show

“The record is a whole other entity in and of itself. It’s a creation that is beyond me as a person, as a soul,” she says of the LP, “and it’s the most magical thing that I’ve done in my life so far. I’ve never been more proud of anything. This album is the only thing that really, truly got me through it. And to have such an incredible thing, a tangible thing to hold on to, after going through something, it’s really kind of a blessing — it’s not just a reminder; it’s like a journal but just rock ‘n’ roll.”

King says part of her new perspective is trying new things, including the Willy Wonka show, which will include performances from: John Stamos, Ingrid Michaelson and “Weird Al” Yankovich.

“Isn’t this like every child’s dream, to be a part of the candy world that you dream of, Willy Wonka?” she says. “I grew up watching that with my brother — it’s a piece of, dare I say, everybody’s childhood. I’m really looking forward to hearing Weird Al perform.”