Lorde debuted her brand new single "Green Light" earlier this month (March 2rd), and it's nothing but green lights ahead for the New Zealand born singer/songwriter. The 20-year-old is about to release her sophomore album Melodrama this summer on June 16th via Republic Records, which is her first new album since 2013's Grammy-nominated chart-topping debut Pure Heroine.
Melodrama features 11 brand new songs, including "Green Light" and promotional single "Liability," and according to Lorde, tells "the story of the last 2 wild, fluorescent years of [her] life." On her new album, Lorde worked with Jack Antonoff (of fun. & Bleachers), who "truly pushed [her] to a place [she'd] never been" and as she tells us is "like [her] family at this point."
We recently caught up with Lorde during an exclusive interview where she told us all about her new album. She talks about what it was like making her new album this time around, what stories she's anxious to tell, what it was like to work with Jack Antonoff, what fans can expect from the rest of Melodrama, about her single "Green Light," and more.
On what it was like making Melodrama compared to making Pure Heroine
Lorde was just 16 years old when she made her debut album Pure Heroine and found success with her chart-topping single "Royals." With four years of experience under her belt, the now 20-year-old has taken a lot of knowledge and attention to detail with her into making her new record.
"The first album was very chill, and easy, and fun, and I think everyone has a first album in them. Second album is every single decision that we made, I really climbed uphill, up the mountain with this album. Every sound I was like, 'Is this the perfect thing?' Whereas I feel like last time I just kind of tossed it out. But it feels good to really labor over something and know that, like with 'Green Light,' every sound in that is hand-picked by us and, right up to [when] we had the mix and we were getting in the mix, and mixing it ourselves. We were right in there, which is fun."
On how it was working with Jack Antonoff
Lorde primarily worked with Jack Antonoff on Melodrama, and although they hit the studio in a few different locations, they mainly created this new music at Jack's house. "Jack is the best. He is one of the strangest people I've ever met in my life. He is so himself, which I love, and we just had the best time hanging out at his house, and at different studios around the place. But for the most part we wrote the record just in a bedroom in his house, sitting around the piano. But yeah, he's a nut. He's like my family at this point."
Many of these moments that are part of this "best time hanging out at [Jack's] house" involves eating delicious food in very comfortable clothes, and turned out to be some of her favorite moments from the making of Melodrama.
"There was one point before things got really serious, and we had a deadline, where we would just go out for these ridiculous dinners, and order cocktails, and get like a giant platter of seafood. We'd be at the nicest restaurants in New York, and we were just like these scumbags, like he just wears the worst clothes all the time. We were just so kind of gross. I feel like that's a real hallmark of this process is us just eating food that's way nicer than we look like we can afford."
On the making of "Green Light"
It's been a few years since Lorde has released new music. She released her debut album four years ago in 2013, which saw successful singles like "Royals," "Tennis Court," and "Team," and a year later also released "Yellow Flicker Beat" from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 soundtrack. "Green Light" is our first taste of what Ella has been working on over the last few years, and the song is different in sound from her previously released music. But the fact that the song was "unexpected" was one of the reasons she picked it as the first single from Melodrama.
"I think with 'Green Light,' I was just like, 'This is so much stick forward for me.' I don't think it's what anyone could have predicted or expected, and I think since I had been gone, pop music had changed a lot, and I was definitely like, 'If I came back and did the same thing, it wouldn't feel fresh at all.' I would be so bored doing that. So 'Green Light' just felt like this very strange, confident thing of, here I am, this is where I'm at right now. Like if you want to come with us, you can come with us. People have come with us, so it's good."
Lorde says the night before she sent "Green Light" out into the world, she was nervous, but "made [her] peace with it." She tells us, "I was on the phone to Jack saying, 'Whatever happens, I'm really proud. We've made something cool.' Which is funny now that I think about it. But yeah, I was really nervous. I think with a second album, you hope that people want to go with you to the new world that you've been living in. That's all you can hope for, and I know there are a lot of artists where I haven't gone to that place with them. I've been like, 'I'm good with just one.' So I was aware that was something that could happen. But it has felt amazing. I'm so happy that people want to come."
On inspirations during the making of Melodrama
A while back, while Lorde was writing for this album, she had shared via her Tumblr that Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" had inspired her. She tells us, "Robyn was actually a big influence. Not so much the direct sonics, but I think she can do something so incredible which is write such a tight, classic, exemplary pop song. There's no average moments in a Robyn song. She's at the top of her game, every part of the song, and the other thing she can do is, she's so good at making something that you want to dance to, but you want to cry too. There's this real complex mix of emotions that are in a big Robyn party song. I guess that's how my love of her manifested is wanting to make this music that reflected all these nights I was having in going out, but also the complexity of everything that I was feeling. So she was a big one."
Robyn isn't the only artist Lorde was listening to while making Melodrama. The promotional single she released once the album was available for pre-order, "Liability," is on the slower side compared to "Green Light," and boasts a more classic, throwback sound using only the piano. Lorde says artists like Paul Simon, Phil Collins, and Don Henley helped to influence her. "I got really into Paul Simon, Phil Collins, and I went deep, and I went throwback, and I think that really helped. I really wanted to push my songwriting as far as I could. So it was cool to be making these songs with like weird hip hop drums, and then I was like, 'How would Don Henley say this line? How would Paul Simon do it?'"
On the meaning behind the album title Melodrama & what fans can expect from the album
Lorde's new album title, Melodrama, is inspired by not only what was going on her own life, but also by what is going on in the world today.
"I had one of the craziest years of my life, and I think a lot of people had a crazy year last year. It was so turbulent politically. I spent my days being kind of traumatized by Twitter and by the news. I just wanted to kind of shut it out, and be with my friends, and dance, and get ridiculous. And I feel like this combination of having this very intense, colorful year, personally, and then there being this very intense, big dramatic thing happening, in terms of happening globally, I was like 'this is like one big melodrama.' That's just how it felt to me. And also, there was an element of like, when you're 20 everything feels like the biggest deal in the world, and the most permanent thing in the world. I'm like, 'I feel terrible and there is no way I'm not going to feel like this. This is it forever. I'm heartbroken forever.' And to me, that is all those emotions. There's such a melodrama to feeling that way and being so gripped by the emotion, whether it's being so happy, or so annoyed, or so sad or whatever. I was like, 'It's a good name for an album that you write when you're 19/20.'"
The songs in Melodrama contain the stories of Lorde's life from over the last few years, and she is excited to share them all with fans, including one of the last songs she wrote for the album. "There's one that was actually one of the last songs we wrote for the album that is like, 'I'm so excited for the people to have that one.' I don't want to say any names yet, but it's different. It [has] almost acoustic elements to it. It's a lot of real instruments, and that one I really love. There are a few little moments where I [think], 'People are going to be like, oh that's what happened that time.' I'm excited to share a bit of it."
Photos: Rachel Kaplan for iHeartRadio