Published on May 29th, 2013 | by PRESENCE1
The Lorde Club
By now you will have heard of Lorde. Her single ‘Royals’ debuted at number one on the charts. The Love Club EP was downloaded 60,000 times before being made available on iTunes, where it was still able to debut at number one on the national charts. Her gigs sold out in two minutes. Her talent has caught the ears of Internet hype machines Buzzfeed and Perez Hilton. There have been tweets by Grimes, Sky Ferrera, Diplo and Stacie Orrico. All in the space of six months. Like it ain’t no big thang.
In person Ella Yelich-O’Connor is charmingly confident and friendly. Considering her age (16, but you already knew that), and given that at the time this is only the third interview she has ever done; she is a surprisingly calm subject. Every answer is carefully considered, with a pause and a flip of her hair. And unlike most young women her age, O’Connor can just as eloquently speak about her favourite fashion designers (Alexander McQueen) as she can literary heroes (Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff).
About a year ago, Universal (who signed her “on development” at the age of 13) introduced O’Connor to Joel Little, who produced her Love Club EP. While O’Connor doesn’t have any formal music training, she isn’t afraid of asserting her creative ideas with a more experienced musician who is twice her age. “At first I was really hesitant and I would come in with my lyrics and I wouldn’t know how to sculpt them into a song. Now we just have arguments about little sounds for hours and I’ll be like, ‘No no, I’m not into that’.”
Together, the pair have created a body of work that demonstrates Lorde’s ability to write clever pop melodies. The Love Club EP is contemporay, and easily compares to the music of James Blake, Burial, Purity Ring and Drake – all artists she has referenced as her influences – while stretching the boundaries already established by them.
As if the name ‘Lorde’ wasn’t enough of an indication, O’Connor is fascinated by the concept of aristocracy and opulence; a theme that is evident in all five of her songs. The EP was written during the school holidays when Lorde was still 15. Twelve months is a long time for a young musician who is constantly developing their musical skills and knowledge, and Lorde has since admitted to cringing over ‘Million Dollar Bills’. The song is easily the strongest track. It features her lush, layered vocals, punctuated with percussive vocal sounds and a heavy bass that hits you in the gut. Coming in at just under two and a half minutes, it’s a bit of a club banger.
Due to her speedy ascent, there has been a dull hiss in her direction – in an attempt to bring O’Connor down there has been some dispute over how much of The Love Club she wrote herself, and how much was actually created by a producer. She is insistent that Lorde is her project, and Little’s input brings out the best of their respective skills. “I’ll come in with 80% of the lyrics done and we’ll write something and it’ll get to the peak point of the song, the chorus or whatever. And that will need to be moulded. Joel’s really good at Pro Tools, which I lack the technical prowess for, and I’m a really intuitive musician and I guess he is too, but he also has the logic. I’ll have an idea but it’ll be totally impulsive and I haven’t actually thought about it at all and he’ll bring the science in and actually figure out how to do it.”
Such is the productivity of the creative partnership – work on an upcoming album is already well under way, with O’Connor hinting at an end of year release. When asked what the future holds for Lorde beyond 2013, with fans anticipating long-term success on the strength of her debut, she responds with a typically self-deprecating; “Well I might be shit by then, who knows?” The Love Club EP is only just the beginning. There’s no doubt she’ll be sitting pretty on the throne as New Zealand’s new pop queen for a while yet.
Written by Ellen Falconer
Photography by Rabie Alburaiky
Make Up Artist: Sophie Hannah Tucker