Lorde doesn’t love every facet of her job. The 24-year-old singer covers the October issue of Vogue, and, in the accompanying interview, reveals why she struggles with the lifestyle that comes with being famous.
“I’m great at my job, but I’m not sure I’m the man for the job,” she says. “I’m a highly sensitive person. I’m not built for pop star life. To have a public-facing existence is something I find really intense and is something I’m not good at. That natural charisma is not what I have. I have the brain in the jar.”
Lorde’s natural inclination to stay out of the spotlight is the reason she takes large breaks between her albums. Her debut album, Pure Heroine, came out in 2013, and was followed four years later by Melodrama. Another four years after that, in August 2021, her long-awaited third album, Solar Power, debuted.
“For whatever reason people have allowed me to say, ‘OK, I’m going to come and do the thing — do the shoot, do the red carpet, speak to the journalists, put the music out — and when I’ve done it to the point of total exhaustion, when I have completely quenched that thirst, I’m going to go home, and you’re not going to see me for two or three or four years,'” she says. “I’ll be doing the other thing, which is being there for every single birthday and dinner party and cooking every single meal and going on every single walk and taking every single bath.”
“When I’ve done that,” she continues, “and I’m like, ‘All right, that’s enough of that for a little while,’ I’ll come back again.”
Amid her long absences from public life, Lorde’s fanbase is always eager for new music, a fact the singer doesn’t take for granted.
“I have much cynicism, but not about what I know to be the alchemical thing that happens in my work. The work is very powerful to people,” she says. “My fans are young, and I just know that they look to me for a lot emotionally and spiritually. But it’s an attachment like any other. You want it to be a healthy one. It needs to be right for both of us, and there needs to be that understanding that mummy does go away to the other room, and she will come back!”
She kept her promise to come back in August with the release of Solar Power.
“This music came from a very joyful period of life for me,” she says. “I’m very comfortable in a place of vulnerability or contemplation of the future or my own mortality. Those are not necessarily scary or sad spaces for me to occupy, and the fact that they’re on there means that I kind of moved through it and have felt the joy coming out the other side.”
“I only come back because I’ve had one of these epiphanic periods,” Lorde continues. “I’ve shifted shape, and I want to do that justice. And then I know when it’s time to go back and spend another year reading on my couch.”
Lorde’s preference for the private, she says, is one reason she decided to completely get off of social media in 2018, even enlisting a coder friend to block the websites and apps in the source code of her devices.
“I could sense that it would be very bad for the work and for me if I stayed online,” she says of social media. “I don’t think I’ve met too many people for whom social media is a net positive. It’s producing crazy chemicals, forming crazy neural pathways that are not rooted in positivity.”
“You don’t want to be the person shaking their finger, and I’m totally aware that it’s an immense privilege, a social privilege and kind of an economic privilege to be able to abstain,” Lorde continues. “But I think we’ve got to be upfront about the things that are making us sick as a society.”
Lorde didn’t just delete her public Instagram and Twitter accounts, but got off of the platforms all together. “I’m not, like, lurking on a Finsta. I’m really off,” she says.
Leaving social media was a massive change, but one Lorde believes was necessary.
“I think I was known for having my finger on the pulse, so it was actually a huge decision philosophically for me to step back from that,” she says. “But I started to see the phone as a portal. I can’t keep going through that portal, in the same way that I wouldn’t just take mushrooms all these moments of a day. It’s too deep a tunnel.”
Getting off of social media, Lorde says, has allowed her to embrace her body without self-consciousness, something she was unable to do prior to 2018.
“When you’re really famous as a young person, feelings get magnified. At that time, people were discussing my body on Twitter, and the natural response was to shrink away from it,” she says. “Now I have a sense of my worth and my power, and my body is — awesome, for one thing. But it’s also not as central as my brain is to the whole operation.”
“I don’t think you could make me feel bad about myself now by saying something about my body, but that’s the difference between 16 and 24,” Lorde continues. “When I talk about being playful in the making of this album, there was, for want of a better word, a sexual component to that. Engaging the natural world in a big way is like a flirtation. That’s how it felt to me. Playful and joyful and a little bit nasty.”