ARTICLE WILLIAM DEFEBAUGH
PHOTOGRAPHY PHILIPPE VOGELENZANG
STYLIST DELPHINE DANHIER
A PRECOCIOUS TEEN SONGSTRESS AND SELF-PROCLAIMED WEIRDO, LORDE HAS SKYROCKETED TO INTERNATIONAL STARDOM. WHILE SHE MAY BE THE VOICE OF A NEW GENERATION, BACK HOME SHE'S STILL THE GIRL WHO JUST GOT HER OWN BEDROOM
Ella Yelich-O’Connor may be the coolest 17-year-old in the world, though she would never admit it. Better known by her stage name, Lorde, which comes from a long-standing fascination with opulence, the young New Zealander who took the world by storm last year with her standout debut single, “Royals,” still can’t quite believe the level of her celebrity.
“It’s pretty mental, really. I made this music in New Zealand at 15 years old with my producer, who was 28—just these two random losers, really. Now all these people like it, and they care about what I have to say, which is nice, because I’m the weirdo for sure. For the most part, people have been really supportive. I feel very grateful.”
The first time V spoke with Lorde, she was 16 and had just released her debut EP, The Love Club, worldwide. She was flying to the United States to play her first (sold-out) show in New York City. Since then she has become a household name, having broken a number of U.S. Billboard records. She is the youngest artist in 25 years to reach the number one spot on the chart, and the first female to top the alternative chart in 17 years.
When speaking with her, you would never guess that Lorde is as young as she is. Despite her incredulity about her fame, she speaks about her work with confidence and the intelligence of someone who has complete understanding of the industry in which she works.
“I’ve been involved with record companies since I was 12, so I’m no stranger to sitting in the boardroom and telling a bunch of people way older than me exactly how things need to be. I think having almost grown up in that setting, having that being totally normal, has helped me be good at being assertive about the things that are important to me.”
Unafraid to speak her mind and a self-described feminist amid a generation of sexualized young pop stars who routinely strip down, Lorde is being heralded as a role model for young girls—a fact she finds very strange. “People like to paint me in a certain way, but I’m a hugely sex-positive person and I have nothing against anyone getting naked. For me personally I just don’t think it really would complement my music in any way or help me tell a story any better. It’s not like I have a problem with dancing around in undies—I think you can use that stuff in a hugely powerful way. It just hasn’t felt necessary for me.”
Marching to her own beat is clearly working for Lorde. She became famous not thanks to a marketing team or an A&R scheme, but because she uploaded music to the Internet that people liked—a sign to her that things may be shifting in the music industry.
“The power and control is with the young people now. It seems like for a while the pop industry has been run by a bunch of 40-year-olds. I feel like maybe that’s about to change. There are young people doing such incredible things creatively at the moment. It feels good.
Following the success of her debut album, Pure Heroine, Lorde has managed to find the balance between her ascending career and staying true to her roots. She’s currently developing her next project, traveling the world for shows and television appearances and also going to high school dances, all the while enjoying the newfound freedom of finally getting her own bedroom after sharing one with her older sister for years. If that’s not a true measure of success, we don’t know what is.
PURE HEROINE IS OUT NOW FROM UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP
Makeup Kristin Gallegos using CHANEL (CLM) Hair Thomas Dunkin (The Wall Group) Manicure Honey (Exposure NY) Digital technician Charles Lu Photo assistant Pavel Woznicki Stylist assistant Ashlee Henderson Location Splashlight Studios, NY