“Everything that’s put out with my name on it should be representative of me and what I want to do as an artist, as opposed to what some dudes in a room think is going to make a lot of money.” This is Lorde, pop’s most stubborn and fiercely in-control new star. Since signing with Universal four years ago, 16-year-old Aucklander Ella Yelich-O’Connor has been waiting to make her move into the spotlight. That moment came in March, when she released her debut EP ‘The Love Club’ in her home country. It quickly rocketed to Number One in New Zealand’s charts and stayed in the Top Five for four months. Now, the Lorde phenomenon is going global: she recently became the first woman in 17 years to top the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in the US, and Grimes, Sky Ferreira and Diplo have all sung her praises. Tickets for her debut London show – at Madame JoJo’s next Tuesday – sold out in just four minutes. Not that Ella seems overly fazed by any of this.
“It’s a bit weird,” she shrugs down the phone. “[New Zealanders are] quite self-deprecating people in general. I was on this radio show and they were like, ‘You sold out your LA show, that’s amazing,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, but the venue’s not very big!’”
She’s often compared to Lana Del Rey, but on the electronic pop minimalism of her debut album ‘Pure Heroine’, Lorde seems more natural and more positive. She passes judgement on rulers and royals, and focuses on the reality of being a teenager trying to find her way through the trials of life. Not that her life is remotely normal at the moment. “Being on the cusp of releasing something that a lot of people are waiting on is horrible,” Ella groans. “I get stressed about it and wake up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘What if it’s no good?’ Then I have to go on Reddit for seven hours to get myself to sleep.”
It might be giving her sleepless nights now, but when ‘Pure Heroine’ is released next month and grants her even more plaudits, she should be able to rest easy.
NEED TO KNOW
Based: Auckland, New Zealand
For Fans Of: Lana Del Rey, Lykke Li
Buy It Now: The single ‘Royals’ is online now. Debut album ‘Pure Heroine’ is out on October 28
See Her Live: Lorde’s first-ever UK show is at London’s Madame JoJo’s on September 18
Believe It Or Not: Before writing songs, Ella wrote fiction. She wrote her first story aged 11 when her dog fell off her balcony and accidentally hanged himself. True story.