Lorde does the double: The New Zealand pop star on winning NME’s Album and Track of The Year 2017

It’s been the year of our Lorde. She’s done the double – winning NME’s Album of The Year 2017 with ‘Melodrama‘ and Song of The Year 2017 for mega-banger ‘Green Light – the first time that’s happened in 10 years, the last being the Klaxons in 2007.

Here, Lorde dissects the the album, what it’s been like turning 21, Mary Berry and why the 1975‘s ‘Somebody Else’ is so important to her.

What’s your favourite lyric on ‘Melodrama’?

I’m really proud of the little moment in ‘Liability’: “I know that it’s exciting / running through the night, but / every perfect summer’s / eating me alive until you’re gone!” That little “every perfect summer’s eating me alive” was really one of the pillars of the record, and I was super stoked with it. It’s got a lot to it for six words.”

‘Melodrama’ talks about your first major heartbreak. Was it hard to write?

“Extremely hard! It was difficult in that the nature of the material and how difficult a lot of the emotional stuff was, it just made it come very slowly. I’d just be putting in the hours and just bleeding, like, a couple of sentences, or a pre-chorus, or a drum sound in a day. But did I ever think that I didn’t want to be honest on it? No! And I didn’t even think of it until I played it in front of a couple of the parties concerned, and I was like “ah yeah, that’s right, I really snipped that memory from out between us and stapled it into the song” – which I think is nice. It’s something that I’m now going to do forever, and will probably only get more incisive and more authentic.”

Did making a cathartic album change the way you see the world?

“That whole period of time between 19 and 20 changed the way I saw the world. I think what I really experienced was a sort of breakdown of the black-and-white, good-and-bad way of thinking. I am not very good at seeing when people are lying to me, or things like that, and I felt the grief of being deceived for the first time, or being let down for the first time, in this very adult way. And I did really grieve saying goodbye to being a kid, but I feel quite calm coming out of it, I feel good. Everything is complicated and interesting, and those are good things.”

What’s emerged as your favourite track to play live?

“‘Sober’, to me, is the most kinetic on the record. I spent a lot of time getting this really perfect violet light for it in the live show, and every time I see that light I am like ‘wow, this is the little world I wanted to build for this song’. So that one’s really fun. ‘The Louvre’ is fun live. They are all super rewarding live, the new ones.”

Did you know you’d written the best song of 2017 when you finished ‘Green Light’?

“That is very kind, thank you so much. I am glad that someone thinks it is the best song of the year. I’m really proud of that song, I worked so hard on it, harder than I’ve worked on anything, because it was just so delicate – there are just so many parts to it, and the production had to be this perfect journey. And it’s not really a linear flow – it starts moving, and then it pulls back, and then it really goes, and then it pulls back. So it’s a delicate thing to get right, but god I was proud of it.

I’ll never forget how proud I was, and am, of that song when we finished it. We had it mixed, we had it mixed again. If you knew how many pianos we tried to get the eventual piano and all the while I was like, ‘we need to be in a town hall in rural France, and someone’s broken in and they’re banging away on the piano’ and Jack [Antonoff, producer] would try another Los Angeles based piano, we’d do all the stuff to it, and it wouldn’t be right. I’m so proud of ‘Green Light’ I really am. If only a handful of people hear it with the same intensity that I hear it, that’s enough.”

What’s the best thing about being 21?

“I’ve only been 21 for maybe a week – nothing is too different. I could already drink alcohol in New Zealand, maybe when I go to America and I don’t have to… but you know, everyone serves you anyway.”

What’s the second best thing about being 21?

“Perfect – because I had so many good answers to the first half of this question! Um… I don’t know? It’s probably better than 20? It’s a little more… I’m not sure, I’ll get back to you.”

What does The 1975’s ‘Somebody Else’ mean to you?

“‘Somebody Else’ is, oh man. I first heard ‘Somebody Else’ in the middle of last year, and I’d just rediscovered ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush and I was struck by the similarities between those two songs. The emotional potency of ‘Somebody Else’ is sort of surprising, I feel like it’s rare these days for a song, especially for a song by a band of dudes, to be that fragile and sad and there’s something almost pathetic about those emotions – something I really related to. And I think it’s produced so wonderfully, I love the beautiful little flourishes in the production, and I love how the bass comes forward in the second verse and you get this nice moment of groove. It’s just a joy, it feels sort of hollow, and that’s how you feel in that time, when you work out that somebody is sleeping with somebody else. There’s this hollowness to it – a lightness – you feel light and sad and empty, in this way that’s celestial almost.

The power it has over me is quite remarkable. God, it’s really such a fucking credit to that band, I really haven’t listened to a ton of their music, but it’s the kind of thing that I have enough love for that song that it elevates the whole thing. Yeah, god it’s so good. I’d really love to ring him on the phone and maybe we’ll write something sort of hollow and celestial one day. I don’t want to make a commitment.”

What’s been the most underrated thing about 2017?

“Maybe the wildness of the weather – we’ve been followed by some fucking chaotic, end of the world type weather. Which I find quite stimulating, and annoying.”

What’s been the most overrated thing about 2017?

“I don’t know. I always have this low level headache about everything happening in the news, and I sort of think that’s a shared feeling, which is quite grim. It’s about to be summer in New Zealand, and I’m going to lock my phone in a drawer and not look at it, and I’m looking forward to that.”

What was the last YouTube video you watched?

“My goodness. I’ve been on a real tear of watching ’60s and ’70s Mary Berry clips – she’s on this show with another woman, Judith Chalmers, and they cook these incredible, bizarre dishes. And they’re on a hard time limit, and I love how Mary sort of gets a little more stressed, and the hands are working a bit more frantically as they go. And it’s nice seeing her make savoury stuff as well. God I love Mary Berry. A true National Treasure.”

What happened at the last party you went to?

“It was a costume party, it was around Halloween, but it was a birthday party. We DJed a lot of early 2000s music and people danced, and I went as Nancy Kerrigan and covered my knee in blood and sort of said “why me, why me” to everyone all night. I drank whisky on the rocks and my friends did drugs and I didn’t do any, and yeah, that’s what happened.”

Would you rather be invisible or able to fly?

“I would like to be able to fly. I think I’d get a lot out of that creatively. I think it would push me onto a new plane.”

Are you learning to drive?

“Well, NME. You know, I can drive. I don’t have the license, I haven’t taken the paper; but I really should. It’s been a busy year! Maybe I’ll do that after I put my phone in the drawer and see how things go.”