A pair of Grammy statuettes kick-start the Kiwi teen's career. She's now "Pure Heroine"
The music talent that’s making waves seems to get younger every year. New Zealand pop singer-songwriter Lorde, 17, became the third-youngest winner in Grammy history in January – and certainly the youngest winner ever from her country. Lorde claimed the trophies for both Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance with her debut single, “Royals”, which remains a sensation on YouTube, earning 46 million views.
Her debut EP last year, “The Love Club”, was No 1 in New Zealand and Australia, but her fan base has since covered the planet. Recording sessions are now underway on a full-length album, “Pure Heroine”, with producer Joel Little.
Pardon us for interrupting. We promise to hold her up for no more than five minutes.
Presumably a huge No 1 hit changes life a little bit.
It’s changed my life in a way that I couldn’t possibly explain. Having a big song, it kind of enables me to travel and work with musicians I really admire. It meant that people were interested in what I have to say, which is really cool.
How does it feel to have millions of people relating to your message on “Royals”?
Well, I didn’t expect so many people to be able to relate. I wrote something for me and my friends and just thought it was kind of funny. I never could have realised a lot of other people would relate to it like they did.
What’s the “Royals” video about?
I just wanted to make something that felt very real and raw. All the boys in the video are my friends from school. We filmed it in my hometown, where I catch the train every day. It felt really authentic. I just wanted to show teens doing what teens actually do.
Why did you want to be singer?
I’d been thinking about it my whole life. I was in a talent show when I was 12, at my school. The record company saw it and approached me.
At first I didn’t know a thing about the business because I wasn’t a songwriter at that point. And I wasn’t sure I wanted a career in music because I was so young. But I worked with them for a couple of years. I met songwriters and started going to the studio and figuring out what I wanted to do. And I signed a development contract with them.
Then I met my songwriting partner, Joel Little, and we really hit it off and started writing. And I realised there was actually nothing else for me except songwriting.
Books have influenced your writing.
I’m really inspired by short stories in particular. One of the first I read was by Raymond Carver. He has a very minimalist way with words, and it kind of inspired me in my songwriting.
There are also Wells Tower, Tobias Wolff, Ron Rash and Banana Yoshimoto. I’m really big on minimalism in words and Banana says so much with so little.
How does it work when you write?
It has to be accurate – something that happened to me or is meaningful to me. I don’t usually write about made-up scenarios. I want the songs to be honest and say what they need to say.
What about your musical influences?
I listen to a lot of electronic music. One of my first electronic passions was James Blake. I think his music is beautiful, and again it’s minimalism, which I found really interesting.
But also I love pure pop. There’s something really powerful in a song that can move the entire world. It’s magic, and if someone is able to do that, it’s unbelievable.
And what are you listening to lately?
Well, I’ve got a Korean friend and he kind of introduced me bands like Girls’ Generation, 2NE1 and that stuff. I think K-pop and J-pop both have this real kind of visual aspect that’s really cool.
Did growing up in New Zealand influence your views on life and your music?
I don’t know if it has. I mean, New Zealand is relaxed and casual, so I guess I’m a bit like that as well. But I don’t think New Zealand has directly influenced my music. I definitely listen to a lot of international music and look at a lot of art from a lot of places. I think what I do a little bit more transcendental international.