Pop Special: Lorde

Chart sensation opens up to Clash...

Lorde is everywhere.

Still only 16 years old, the New Zealand artist's debut single 'Royals' has waltzed its merry way to the top of the Billboard charts. Currently perched at the summit of the iTunes countdown in the UK, it seems that British fans are set to follow in the worship-trodden paths of their American counterparts.

Yet she remains an enigma. The depths, the intricacies of her music are matched by a shy public persona, one which tends to hide from the limelight attracted by her enormous success.

Appearing on the front cover of our new pop special, Lorde opens up as never before to Popjustice editor Peter Robinson.

Here's a short extract to whet your appetite…

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Your image as Lorde, across all your videos and artwork, is very stylised and understated. But you’re not really like that in person.
The thing is, I’m a goon. Nobody wants to watch me talking and eating biscuits! I’m trying to make art! (Laughs) Initially I didn’t have any photos out there, and I could heavily control what I wanted people to see. I’ve done something similar in my music: it’s all to making the listener feel a certain way.

You seem more aware than some of your peers that a strong visual identity helps the listener make sense of pop.
I think you have to bring everything together. I’m really into this artist FKA Twigs – with all her videos you can’t tell whether the visual or the audio came first, and I find it so incredible that something can be so symbiotic. And the music is pretty cool, too.

Are you a popstar, an artist, or a singer/songwriter? Or all three?
You can choose.

You do seem like a popstar.
I wouldn’t take offence! People think pop is filthy and shameful. I love pop music! I don’t think it’s right to shit on a genre just because some stuff about it isn’t perfect. Pop is really powerful, and if I’m a popstar then I’ll be that to the best of my ability.

One of the best things about pop is that it takes all the best bits from lots of different types of music, and turns it into something loads of people want to hear. Is that something you consciously do?
Yeah. One of the things that’s key to my music is melodies that are so, so simple – almost like nursery rhymes. Killer pop melodies: Sleigh Bells, music off the Drive soundtrack, stuff like that. Pop is about gratification and melodies are the way of achieving that.

The idea of pop as gratification is interesting. Sometimes it’s about giving people exactly what they want, even if they didn’t know they wanted it.
Yes. And I like that. It’s funny with the way ‘Royals’ has worked out: I listen to people covering the song, and putting their own spin on it, and I listen to it in every single form except the original one I put out, and I realise that actually it sounds horrible. (Laughs) It sounds like a ringtone from a 2006 Nokia. None of the melodies are cool or good. It’s disastrous. Awful! But for some reason, in the context of the way I released it, it just worked out.

Now you’re “the alt music it girl” – that’s how Entertainment Weekly describe you – are you receiving strange emails from producers and writers who want to work with you?
Yeah! I’ve heard from lots of people – almost too many to mention! But [super producer] Dr. Luke was particularly impressive. It’s like, ‘You’re Dr. Luke. You’re like Rambo’. He’s pop royalty. I imagine him living in some ice palace with Nordic maidens and windchimes. He’s cool. I find what he does so fascinating. I haven’t written for other artists yet but I definitely want to. Obviously lyrics are a huge part of my music, and they’re so personal to me, so… It’ll be such a challenge to step out of my body. I can’t wait.

Who would you like to write for?
Well Rihanna would be fun to write for because she’s done EVERYTHING. And I’d love to write for – or with – Ellie Goulding, actually.

You could just invent a girlband. Audition a load of singers, write the album, job done.
Girlbands are only cool if they’re so ridiculous it’s awesome, like the K-Pop girlbands with twelve people who rule the country. I’d write for a Korean girlband, definitely – some of their melodies are the best pop.

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