Lorde (real name: Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor) is reflecting on her rise to teenage superstardom in a revealing new interview with the Sunday Times. The New Zealand native was just 16 when she found fame with her 2013 studio debut album, Pure Heroine, and her hit single “Royals.”
“It’s not normal. My first single was so huge — I thought, ‘This just happens.’ I remember, over and over, the sensation of feeling like people wanted to drink my youth,” she told the U.K. newspaper. “Some elixir! People were like, ‘Give it to me!’ I felt, ‘God, this is about you.’ I was aware of what my youth was doing to people, but I just wanted to be really good [at music].”
Now 24, Lorde shared that she feels wise beyond her years.
“I have grown so much in the years since I became famous,” she said. “A lot of my school friends describe me as a mum, or grandma. I’m their old lady friend. But the thing about my job is that I get to play. So, in a way, you are immortalized. Friends leave that sandbox; I will always be kind of a child because of what I do.”
But that doesn’t mean dealing with her rise to stardom at such a young age wasn’t a challenging process. Calling fame “a really interesting thing to happen,” she said she recognizes “it gets tricky for people if they find the experience super-validating, if they feel it’s giving them fuel.”
“For me, I was always a little suspicious of it, or sure it would go away. I am significantly less famous than I was when I was 16, but that’s exactly how I like it,” she said. “I’m not getting my validation from it.”
Of course, becoming adult has meant dealing with disappointments, which included the commercial reception of her 2017 sophomore album, Melodrama. While hailed by critics, the album didn’t sell as well as her first.
“When Melodrama came out, I had this moment of being, ‘Ah, I’m not always going to be No. 1 for nine weeks,’” said Lorde. “Now I’ve settled into this place where people call you, then one day they won’t. And that’s all good. I’m a different part of the meal. I know who I am.”
Of course, she still has plenty of love for that album, and the young woman she was when she made it.
“I listened to Melodrama recently and was, like, ‘Oh, girl! You were stressed out. This was a really fraught time for you!’ And it was. I remember touring and being gripped by angst every night. It was quite tough, to be honest, to live like that for a year,” she explained.
With several more years of fame under belt, Lorde says she’s finally starting to comprehend the experience of finding fame at such a young age and the power it had over her.
“It’s funny. I’m still only really understanding this now. For the first songs you’ve written to have that impact gives you a really skewed perception of how it all works. Everyone wanted to meet me,” she said. “And know how my brain works.”
With her new album, Solar Power, Lorde has found a little bit more peace.
“I’m more settled,” she explained.