Our Lorde confesses

I’m no good at be­ing fa­mous

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - What a Week! - #

It’s past mid­night on a Fri­day in the Mo­jave Desert, east of Los An­ge­les, and 200 Lorde fans are sur­pris­ingly calm as they wait for the Kiwi pop star to ap­pear.

Many don’t look much older than the 20-year-old singer, whose de­but sin­gle “Roy­als” hit num­ber one in New Zealand in 2013 be­fore go­ing on to top charts all over the world.

Since PureHeroine, the Grammy-nom­i­nated al­bum that fol­lowed, fans have been pa­tiently wait­ing for new mu­sic. Two tracks – the party an­them “Green Light” and pi­ano bal­lad “Li­a­bil­ity” – from her up­com­ing record

Melodrama fi­nally ar­rived in March and al­ready these lis­ten­ers know all the words. Wait­ing an­other three hours doesn’t seem so bad.

The fans are queu­ing po­litely out­side Pappy & Har­riet’s, a honky-tonk bar near Joshua Tree Na­tional Park that has be­come a go-to lo­ca­tion for small sur­prise gigs from big stars like Sir Paul McCart­ney. The $29 tick­ets to tonight’s show sold out less than a minute af­ter Lorde posted a link to her 4.8 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers ear­lier in the day.

Songs & se­crets

When the con­cert-go­ers are in­side the venue and the singer ap­pears on stage, she’s in Adi­das train­ers and a long metal­lic mesh dress that re­veals black high-waisted knick­ers and a match­ing strap­less bra. Lorde says hello and the screams shake the wooden floor­boards.

“Why was it so long?” a young wo­man wails in the crowd. The Kiwi star replies, “Lis­ten, we’ll get to that.” But

had al­ready heard what Lorde has been up to on her three-yearthree year break be­tween al­bums – be­cause we’d had tea with her the pre­vi­ous morn­ing in the famed Hol­ly­wood ho­tel Chateau Mar­mont, where she likes to swim in the pool ev­ery morn­ing. “Yes, very clichéd,” she ac­knowl­edges.

Lorde – whose real name is Ella Yelich-O’Con­nor – has got used to the ho­tel life. She’s been liv­ing in them for the past 18 months while work­ing on Melodrama in New York. Home is still Auck­land, where she hangs out with her old friends, many of whom are now at uni­ver­sity or work­ing en­try-level jobs. The United States, she says, is “my of­fice”.

That of­fice has changed a bit since the re­lease of PureHeroine. “Roy­als”Roy­als may have dis­missed the trap­pings of celebrity cul­ture, but these days, “that kind of luxe” is part of her life. Now she is dressed by Valentino, en­sconced in Tay­lor Swift’s girl gang, and pho­tographed out in Paris with Kanye West and on New York din­ner dates with

Girls star Lena Dun­ham. To quote her hit song “Team”, how does it look to her teenage fans who still “live in cities you’ll never see on screen”? Laugh­ing, she replies, “I am not a good fa­mous person. I am a writer – that is what I am good at. I can build stuff and

sing stuff, but I am not good at sell­ing the dream.

“I don’t look like magic when I get out of the car. Some peo­ple tell their story through these pho­tos, but that is truly not my strength...

“I love the fact that I can go play be­fore the head­liner at Coachella and then I can be like, ‘Bye-bye, I am go­ing to New Zealand!’” The par­ties that in­spired

Melodrama, she says, were not glitzy galas in New York but mostly nights out with her mates in Auck­land, where she’s bought a house and lives hap­pily alone.

“I make work in ev­ery room of my house – I can feel it spread out.” She wrote the word “beauty” on one side of her kitchen wall and “ter­ror” on the other, then stuck pic­tures and po­ems on the spec­trum.

Work on Melodrama be­gan last year, when Lorde met Lena’s part­ner Jack Antonoff, a 33-yearold song­writer and pro­ducer, and thought, “Yes, this is some­one I want to go on into this strange new world with.” They worked in his home stu­dio in Brook­lyn for months, craft­ing songs that tell “the story of the last two flu­o­res­cent years of my life”.

It is also, in many ways, the story of her grow­ing up.

She suf­fered her first big heart­break in late 2015, when she broke up with her boyfriend, pho­tog­ra­pher James Lowe, who had been a fix­ture in her life since be­fore “Roy­als”.

Then there was the pres­sure of fol­low­ing up from the Pure

Hero­ine al­bum, which went on to sell five mil­lion copies. Her fans – and her la­bel, surely – have been hun­gry for an­other al­bum.

Artist at work

How has she coped with the high ex­pec­ta­tions? “From the out­side, it prob­a­bly looked like there was a lot of en­ergy di­rected at me about putting this out, but I was very de­tached from that,” she in­sists. “No out­side pres­sure could ever be as in­tense as the knowl­edge I had that it had to be good at any cost. I re­ally am so in conversa­tion with my­self when it comes to my work. I am the only critic I truly trust. I am con­stantly bat­tling to im­press and sur­prise my­self.”

When she hasn’t been im­mersed in the fi­nal de­tails of the record, Lorde has been lis­ten­ing to Paul Si­mon’s

Grace­land, his sev­enth solo al­bum, re­leased in 1986 when he was 44. “I used to be ter­ri­fied of turn­ing 25 be­cause ev­ery­one put so much value in me be­ing 16,” she says. “And all of a sud­den, you’re like, ‘Am I still go­ing to be pre­cious when I’m 21?’” Ul­ti­mately, though, Lorde is over that con­cern.

She’s ex­cited – not just about her new al­bum, but also about the kind of mu­sic she’s go­ing to be able to make when she is 44.

Lorde ex­plains, “You take this step into an adult world and you’re like, ‘What’s all this like?’ Then you re­alise that 40-year-olds don’t have their s*** to­gether ei­ther. Ev­ery­one is still fig­ur­ing it out.”

“Green Light” to great­ness! But Lorde confesses, “I’m not a good fa­mous person.”

“I am the only critic I truly trust,” con­fides the singer. “I am con­stantly bat­tling to im­press and sur­prise my­self.” The Kiwi star (with her mum Sonja) rocks out at the Bill­board Mu­sic Awards in Las Ve­gas.

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