Ten years ago, Lorde shook up the pop world with her sharp and brooding debut Pure Heroine. Now 26, the pop star took a moment to deeply reflect on making the album that changed her life and the experience of becoming the most famous teen in the world.
Lorde sent her thoughts via her fan newsletter. She first thanked for their “compassion and understanding” in response to her last letter, about “living with heartbreak again.” She segued into pointing out that “it’s 2013 mode round here” before acknowledging the big milestone.
“You may (like me most of the time) hold the opinion that this album has been MYTHOLOGISED QUITE ENOUGH,” she wrote, “but a milestone is a milestone, so I thought coming here and typing some shit to u about this time would be a fun thing for those who care.”
Her lengthy, sweet letter notes that she recently spent a lot of time looking through her computer archives of her life between 2011 and 2013. The differences in technology stick out to her, including the fact that she didn’t own a camera phone and instead took selfies on her MacBook’s Photo Booth app. She even shares several time capsule images of herself taken in her childhood bedroom.
“When I was fourteen, my greatest work of art was my bedroom,” she continues, comparing it to the set designs of Pretty in Pink and The Virgin Suicides, full of photos, handmade crafts and fairy lights. She would begin writing her first songs from that bedroom, influenced by her introduction to weed.
“[It] gave me a deeper understanding of sensory pleasure, and allowed me to start to see my world as a possible work of art,” she says of beginning to smoke. Long, stoned walks around her suburb inspired the lyrical scenes on Pure Heroine.
Lorde’s primary collaborator on this album was Joel Little, whom Lorde calls her peer, “in the most sensitive and age-appropriate way.” Her email linked out to a transcript of a recent call with Little where the pair discuss the making of the album, starting with their first e-mails in 2011.
Lorde’s letter to her fans contains even more photos from the whirlwind press tour and first live shows she embarked on in the second half of 2013, which followed the success of “Royals” and “Tennis Court” and saw the official release of her debut album. She traveled to America, Australia and Europe for the first time in her life and was thrown off the deep end into being one of the most famous people in the world.
“Every week was the most exciting week of my whole life, I was so tired and still didn’t have a winter coat and took everyone clamouring for a piece of me completely for granted,” she recalls. “I had zero cultural context, had no idea if an interview or TV show was huge or small, and so breezed through it all truly not giving a fuck. I am not a naturally nonchalant person, it was literally just too much to care about, I could hardly get up in the morning, so I just said absolutely whatever I felt like, all kinds of wild shit, if someone did something corny I’d say so, I was ruthless in that way that only teens are.”
Lorde wraps up her message pointing out how quickly time passes (“One minute you’re wearing a leather collar with a giant crystal hanging off it to a Chanel party, and the next you’re blonde.”) and points out her “deep respect” for the vision she had as a young girl.
“Going back through all of this has reminded me of something that feels important to point out, whether you make art or not: everything starts out as a bunch of bullshit in a laptop,” she adds. “Pure Heroine was a handful of Photo Booth selfies and emotional Word documents and Tumblr posts (and a gorgeous over-decorated bedroom) before it was even one song. I had no reason, on paper, to believe that I was capable of anything. But if you can trust that the first impulse you had to create came from a place of deep wisdom, develop a few principles for your decision-making, and absorb a lot of stuff you find inspiring, you’ll have something special on your hands.”
She ends on a inspiring note, letting her fans know that they are “sitting on a gold mine no one can rob” of their own experiences that are just as worth relaying in whatever form works for them.
“Whatever that means to you, whatever that statement you were born to make is, I invite you to take a big breath and make it.”
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