Lorde: Behind the Melodrama, an 11 episode track-by-track podcast interview with Lorde about her new album is out now. Spinoff Music editor Henry Oliver introduces the series.
Over two afternoons in May, I sat in the boardroom of Universal Music New Zealand, in Newton, Auckland, with Lorde to talk about Melodrama.
Ella Yelich-O’Connor signed a development deal with Universal when she was just 12 years old, so grew up visiting the boardroom; she seemed to feel at home there.
In the first session, we spent over an hour talking about ‘Green Light’ and ‘Liability’, which I had been listening to for weeks. A week later, for the second session, Lorde hooked her phone up to the boardroom’s speakers and played me the latest mixes she’d been sent to sign off on. It’s a weird feeling listening to an artist’s new music while they sit close-by, weirder still to be able to ask about whatever struck you on first impression.
I asked her about the lyrics, songwriting and production of her new album, and she told me the stories, processes and influences behind the songs. Over the next 11 episodes, Lorde will guide you through every track on the album, taking you behind the Melodrama.
Listen to Lorde: Behind the Melodrama on Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.
“I always want to run toward the thing that feels challenging and scary and exciting, and that didn’t feel like a drum beat and a vocal anymore. Because those types of songs had been number one on the charts for two years. It really felt like there’d been an excess of that type of music, which I am happy for as someone who’s in the camp of minimalism, but also I was like – there has to be a different way to express how I’m feeling.”
“I feel like the essence of Melodrama is ‘We pretend that we just don’t care / but we care’. We fucking care! and I’m going to show you. This record is a document about that care.”
“Sometimes it is just about having your arms around your friend’s shoulders and being drunk and being into the same song.”
“I wanted to [give the feeling of] just like the big sun-soaked dumbness of falling in love and it’s like your whole head is like glue, it’s amazing. It is like drugs. It’s like ‘I just want to be by you all the time, I just want to listen to you talk and look at your face do all those dumb things that it does when you talk. It’s just like this big dumb joy and it’s intense – and I feel like the instrumentation in that song kind of helped it get there.”
“I’m so aware of the thoughts that are so potent in a moment and then, in the light of day, you’re like, ‘Alright, I was being a bit of a drama queen there, but it’s all good, I’m over it.’ But I went and immortalised it and now everyone who talks to be about that song gives me this look like I’m dying of a terminal disease … but I think that is the nature of writing a record called Melodrama.”
“I was basically speed-dating different producers and songwriters in LA and hating it. And then I walked into a room with [Jack Antonoff] and just felt like home. I was like, ‘Oh, yes. I want to be around you as long as I can and as much as possible.’ We were just obsessed with each other.”
Sober II (Melodrama)
“I felt more aware of my age than I ever have making a record. I was in these moments of just being gripped by an emotion and I was like ‘I’m feeling this because I’m 20 and everything’s fucked-up inside my brain. I’m actually like rewiring to become an adult. All this is insane!'”
Writer In The Dark
“It’s not a historical document. It’s not a police record. It’s not journalism. I didn’t go to journalism school. I’m a writer. It’s about what I felt and sometimes you can feel an element of guilt or ‘Oh God, I shouldn’t have immortalised that person’, but the song is my way of saying ‘It’s what I’ve always been. It’s what I was when you met me. It’s what I will continue to be after you leave. That’s exactly what was going to happen when you kissed a writer in the dark.'”
“I felt the way I used to feel when I made music as a kid and it felt like I could cry because it’s such a relief to get out how you’re feeling for the first time. I remember being like ‘Oh my God’. It was such gratitude for the process. I was like, ‘My outlet!'”
“I went into thinking I knew what I was doing and thinking I knew exactly who I was at that moment and what I was going to do and the process has been very confronting and intense and awesome and emotional and it turned out that I wasn’t who I thought I was after all.”
“Hating the headlines and the weather and feeling like… Bowie’s gone, and Prince is gone, and George Michael’s gone, and what’s left? I don’t want to be alone in my house with Twitter and it’s all so fucked. Let’s just try and convince ourselves there’s a perfect place we can go to, even just for an evening.”