your booty in the club, more people get it and can relate to it.” Instead of writing bland platitudes about partying and finding/losing the love of your life, Lorde explores the emotions and real concerns of her peers, painting vivid pictures with her words. Lines like, ‘this dream isn’t feeling sweet/ we’re reeling through the midnight streets/ and I’ve never felt more alone/it feels so scary getting old’ from Ribs, and ‘I’ll let you in on something big/I am not a white teeth teen/I tried to join but never did’ from White Teeth Teens are condensed short stories. From A World Alone, the line ‘maybe the internet raised us/or maybe people are jerks?’ is social commentary.
orde explains: “I’m not trying to preach to anyone, which is something teenagers get all the time and hate. I’m just commenting on what I see and writing about how it applies to teenagers’ lives. I think we are portrayed pretty weirdly in music and movies and TV shows. Adults forget what it is like to be my age. I’m living it so I have a more realistic viewpoint on it. “That line [about the internet] was something my friend said. We were at 44
a party after spending too much time on the internet. Sometimes after you’ve been on Tumblr for three hours and you try and talk to people it is impossible. And my friend was like, ‘Why can’t we talk to anyone at this party?’” Are your friends excited or annoyed when they see themselves in your songs? “I have a lot of friends, so everyone assumes it’s about someone else. I’d like to think I’m quite subtle.” How has success affected friendships? “Obviously it’s difficult, because I’m in New York and they’re in history class or whatever, but your friends are your friends for who you are. I’d like to think the people I’ve known since I was really young like me for me and not because of my music.” While Lorde’s lyrics are intelligent and thought provoking, her music is clever in its own right: a clean, modern, minimal sound that subtly references other musical genres. “I’m a magpie, I’m
a child of the internet,” she says, “and so I’ve picked the things I like from electronic music, hip-hop and pop music.” Most of the beats and sound effects were made on Pro Tools audio software by Little. Only one of the songs on Lorde’s debut album, Pure Heroine, features a guitar – a three-chord trick on A World Alone. Little also played some keyboards. “I can’t shred on the keyboards,” he says. “I just mess around and sometimes when I do that I stumble on something that sounds really cool. Fake it ’til you make it, I guess.” Then there’s Lorde’s powerful voice, of which Little took full advantage. “Her voice is so cool and interesting, and when you layer it up it’s like a really unique instrument in itself. We often use layered vocals, where there might usually be a guitar or a synth, it creates quite an intense atmosphere. The melodies are good, so that makes it accessible, and there are interesting things going on musically, but it’s not trying to grab you in the first five seconds. It’s a slow build. “I think people were ready for something that sounded a bit fresher. She makes music that doesn’t treat listeners like idiots. People were craving something that doesn’t sound exactly like the last song they heard on the radio. ” Little recalls very clearly the first time Lorde sang for him in the studio. “It was like, ‘Jackpot baby!’ The dream is to work with somebody as talented as her. When she’s singing, it’s like she’s talking about something mysterious, but something you can relate to at the same time. She’s got such a sweet voice, but she also sounds like she’d totally f––k you up if you said something that she didn’t agree with. Sweet, but scary at the same time.” What’s scary is how much bigger the Lorde experience could be. “Coachella and Lollapalooza have been confirmed. Glastonbury will happen,” says Maclachlan. “She could work every day in 2014 if she wanted to.” “Every trip we book and every show we do, I choose to do it,” says Lorde. “I still have normal Saturday nights and hang out with my school friends and go to house parties. That’s the good thing about NZ, there’s very little difference to my life. I’m conscious of the fact that I have to work and miss some stuff, but I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. Everything has been positive and fun.” That’s a very different buzz compared with the kind most teenagers experience. It sounds too good to be true. It sounds like a fantasy, except for Lorde, it’s not. lorde.co the red bulletin
Charles Howells, Getty Images
Rich pickings: self-confessed magpie Lorde is influenced by her friends, Tumblr and hip-hop