It’s still strange to me that Lorde was only 16 years old when Pure Heroine was released. She wrote the songs herself and became a multi-platinum-selling recording artist by the time she was 17 years old. And then she disappeared! No, I mean, she toured and won Grammys and did her thing, but for the past few years, Lorde has been largely in the wind. She worked hard on her second album, Melodrama, which she’s promoting right now. Thus, she appears on the new cover of Rolling Stone. You can read the full RS cover story here. I enjoyed it, because she is still very much a “normal” young person. People often thought she was lying about her age, but it’s clear at this point that she was just preternaturally mature when she was 16. Now that she’s 20, she seems like a normal 20-year-old.
Why she created her stage name: “I don’t know, it’s a bit boring: Ella Yelich-O’Connor. Can you imagine them shouting it at a festival? It just made sense to me to elevate it.”
She took Diplo fishing in New Zealand: “I love fishing! I feel like that’s what you have to do when people are in New Zealand.”
Becoming famous at 16: “Now I can look back and be like, ‘That was f–ked. All of it. F–ked. Insane,’ but everyone’s so crazy when they’re 16. I think if you tell a 16-year-old that they’re going to Mars – ‘We’re gonna get on a rocket and go, and that’s going to be your life’ – they’d be like, ‘OK, like, that’s all well and good, but I’m doing this thing by myself right now, and that’s what’s important.’ Everything kind of normalized week to week.”
Angst about the second album: “It kind of takes a second, I learned, to write your way out of the record you just made.”
She makes pop music for everybody: “I have always been super-allergic to anything that feels exclusive in art.”
She & her boyfriend broke up: Then, around 2015, she broke up with her longtime boyfriend, photographer James Lowe. Though she’s circumspect about the particulars, she admits she was surprised by the depth of emotion she’s experienced of late. “Five years ago, I thought that was as vivid as it got. And then to have this ‘oh, my God’ – it’s like that times 100. I think I’ve had a real emotional renaissance in the last 18 months of just being like, ‘Wow, it hurts,’ and letting myself feel all of those things, which has been kind of transcendent.”
On the first album: “We reinvented the wheel by accident. It’s sort of a miracle, really.” She’s now had four years to come to terms with the fact that her first album may have been a fluke, that not every popularity contest is so easily won. “That’s not the thing I was put on this Earth to do – to push things forward every time. Obviously I would want people to like the music, but in terms of being like Drake, how he’s always pushing the culture forward musically? I know what my strengths are, and I think that would have given me a hernia or something.”
She’s not the same moody goth teenager: “It’s like, ‘Oh, sh-t, I can’t be kind of sexy if I want to for a second? Everything I do has to be, like, ‘library girl’?” She no longer listens to Pure Heroine. “That felt like a kid… This feels like a young woman. I can hear the difference.”
I feel a little bit sorry for her because I really feel like her core fanbase will want her to continue to be that morose goth girl and they will not “accept” it if she wants to be anything else. You can tell throughout the RS piece that she’s really nervous about this new album and she’s sort of tempering expectations. I heard the first single from this album, by the way. And I was underwhelmed. I hope the rest of the album is better.
Photos courtesy of WENN, cover courtesy of Rolling Stone.