Lorde at Home with Billboard Magazine
For a minute, it’s easy to forget that Lorde is over 13,800km away, at home in New Zealand, Billboard journalist New Yorker Brooke Mazurek writes for the magazine’s latest cover story.
Before their Skype connection starts failing (“The universe was like, ‘You’re talking about baking, no one cares,’” she quips after one crash), Lorde welcomes Mazurek into her little slice of the world: a lush, midcentury-style living room, with a black upright piano to her left and a Christmas tree to her right.
It’s a few days before Christmas, and the 21-year-old born Ella Yelich-O’Connor has been holed up here, on a break from a 65-city world tour in support of Melodrama, her stellar second LP, which debuted at No 1 on the Billboard 200 in June 2017 and landed her a Grammy nomination for album of the year in November. (At the ceremony on 28 January, she’ll be up against Kendrick Lamar, JAY-Z, Bruno Mars and Childish Gambino.)
Before we part ways and Lorde takes her place 18 hours in the future, I ask about the row of books perched above her. There are works by Lucia Berlin, Ray Bradbury and Renata Adler. “I remember finding this – it’s secondhand,” she says, turning the camera to show me the cover of Michael Chabon’s A Model World. “It’s a true must.” She flips through a few pages before stopping at words so perfect, they could be lifted from her music. Stamped in bold black letters, the phrase: IMPERFECT NOT FOR RESALE.
I’ve read that rich Silicon Valley types are buying property in New Zealand because they think, “When the world falls apart, that’s where I want to be.”
“Oh, yes, this is a thing,” Lorde says. “I think [PayPal co-founder] Peter Thiel was here. The getaway nature of it is very real – I always feel very unmoored from America when I’m here. I’ll get a work email, and I just laugh at how absurd it feels. It’s like it has travelled underwater or something. My main concern right now is what the tide is doing. I map my day around it. It’s high soon, so I’m going to go for a swim. I can bike over to the beach.”
A famed blogger by age 12, now-21-year-old American writer-actress Tavi Gevinson explains how Lorde transcended prodigy status.
“One of Ella’s greatest gifts as a writer is her ability to switch between dancing and writing, and to do both at the same time. That sounds esoteric, but what I mean is that she knows when to be inside of a moment, losing herself, and when to kind of hover above and watch it and take notes. With some experiences, she knows how to do them simultaneously. She’s like a Jedi.”
Original article by Brooke Mazurek, Billboard, January 20, 2018.
Photo by Olivia Bee.