Tavi Gevinson interviewed Lorde for Rookie for over two hours on Skype, with the mission to lay bare what's behind Lorde's "alpha-Daria" portrayal in the media. 11,000 words later, we have marvelous insights on self-expression, public image, private doubts, teendom, and bonding over Shelley Duval and Arcade Fire.
Their two lives are in a particular parallel: They're both 17, in positions of heightened creative influence, and became media darlings relatively young. These connections perhaps made this interview a particularly insightful one about art and fame at a young age. But even though they're both in rarefied air, the interview is funny and intimate and charming, especially regarding the particularly teenage feeling of recognizing your constant evolution.
The whole thing is worth a read, naturally. These are two insightful, self-aware, intelligent, funny, and culturally fascinating young women. In the meantime, we have picked out a handful of the best moments as a teaser.
On the double-edged sword of representing "real teens":
TG: Does being singled out as the kind of outsider repping the “weird girls” ever feel like a double-edged sword? Because then you become responsible for representing the “real” teens … Sorry, that was just me talking to myself, ugh.
L: No, it’s OK! I have definitely felt that sort of pressure, and it’s strange, because while I dress and talk somewhat differently from other people whose songs are in the Top 40, I feel like more people dress like me than the media makes you believe. You know what I mean? I’m not an anomaly, so it feels weird that I get treated like one and have that pressure of “You represent all teenagers in the Western world. No stress!” The easiest way of dealing with that is just to try not to think about what your art might mean for others. I know that sounds bad, but honestly, if you want it to be meaningful to other people, you need to just totally not even think about that part and make something that will mean something to you. Then other people will be able to live inside it too and understand it. But if you’re making something like, “This is for this demographic,” in the hope of “They will get this from it,” it’s not a healthy way of creating.
On "all of the weird rulebooks" of contemporary feminism:
L: I think I’m speaking for a bunch of girls when I say that the idea that feminism is completely natural and shouldn’t even be something that people find mildly surprising. It’s just a part of being a girl in 2013. That kind of normal, non-scary, chill vibe that you had with it, and that Rookie had, was really encouraging when I was like 14. Even now, I find a lot of feminist reading quite confusing and that often there’s a set of rules, and people will be like, “Oh, this person isn’t a true feminist because they don’t embody this one thing,” and I don’t know, often there is a lot of gray area tha can be hard to navigate [sic]. It’s just something that I’d assumed was natural for a long time. It’s not some crazy kind of alien concept to me. Did you ever have that problem of getting into feminist writings and then feeling confused about all the ways people’s opinions differed and all of the weird rulebooks and you’re like, What?
TG: Are there any songs of yours that you don’t like listening to?
L: I mean, you know, it’s just the nature of being our age. I’m sure you look back at stuff you made or wrote a few months ago and are like, Oh god. I have that kind of constantly. But I think if you didn’t have that, then you would stop creating, because the cool thing about being a creative person is that you try to get to some unattainable goal in your head. I try and write the song that I dream of writing, and I think I’ve gotten there, and then six hours later I’m like, “No, no, this is how it needs to go.” That endless pursuit keeps us going.
On not needing Soundgarden:
TG: Some guy on Twitter said, like, “Oh, I’m so sad for your generation that you don’t have the Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden.”
L: I saw that! [Laughs]
TG: I was like, “Ugh, no, we’re fine. We don’t need testosterone-y bands to worship…”
On looking confused in a field:
L: I have found that there is a lot of stuff, particularly on photo shoots, that people expect of girls, like “Pop that hip out a bit more! Can you just give me a wink? Can you just look a bit more sexy?” [Laughs] Or, if it’s an outdoor thing they’ll be like, “Oh, you’re in a long, beautiful dress? Let’s get you sitting in this field and looking confused.” Some of the stuff, I’m like, no one would ask this of a guy.
On love and relationships:
TG: There’s a dedication in the liner notes to James [Lowe] where you thank him for the “truest, purest friendship [you’ve] known,” and I just think that’s so beautiful, because people rarely talk about relationships as being friendships. How has even just the friendship part of that relationship inspired your writing?
L: I’m quite solitary by nature, I guess. I don’t have heaps and heaps of friends. Often I can appreciate a place regardless of the people I’m sharing it with, which I know a lot of people can’t do, but for me … this is really personal, but James and I spent a lot of time, and still do spend a lot of time, driving around all over our city, and that for me was enlightening, because for once, the company that I’m keeping is affecting how I feel about these places, and in a positive way. I think that was kind of what drove me to write a lot of the stuff on Pure Heroine, because I really thought about where I was in conjunction with who I was in conjunction with who I was with.
That makes me want to cry!
And a quick cultural observation about airplanes ...
TG: But also, there’s less oxygen on planes, so all your emotions are heightened!
L: The thing I find so funny about planes is everyone being on the same level of completely primitive disgustingness. You see people snoring with their mouths open and waiting in line for the toilet in their socks. Everyone looks at each other like, You can’t judge me on what you saw in this 12-hour slot. It’s so funny.
Girls, girls. Talk, always.