Arts & Culture
Tavi Gevinson Chats With Lorde
The trendsetters talk feminism, young love, and defying stereotypes Read More
Tavi Gevinson, 17-year-old founder of Rookie Magazine, chatted with fellow-aged pop crooner Lorde on Skype yesterday. The two, who share the same bittersweet self-realizations of being too wise before their time, had A LOT to talk about. The 11-page interview touches on what it feels to be “17,” their stance on feminism today, and learning to trust their instincts. It’s worth a full read to hear some strong words of wisdom from these two precocious talents.
A few highlights from the interview:
On being famous at a young age:
I remember when people started paying attention to what I was doing, and it was like, “She should be getting knocked up like all the other kids her age!” It’s like, you complain when you think teenagers are stupid, and then when they try to do something, you’re all, “Oh, they’re growing up too fast, they don’t know what’s good for them.”
It seems like a double standard to me. And there’s another part of it which I find really strange, which is that so many interviewers, even ones that I consider really intelligent and good writers, will do the, like, “Oh, you’re not taking your clothes off like Miley Cyrus and all these girls” thing, which to me is just the weirdest thing to say to someone. But then people will say, “She’s always talking about being bored, that’s petulant,” which I feel like is kind of taking the piss out of teenage emotions—just, like, making light of how teenagers feel. When people react that way about things that every teenager experiences, how can you expect to make anything good?
On telling the elders to back off:
I think the natural thing for someone in your manager’s position would be, like, “I’m an adult and you’re a teenager, so I should tell you what to do.”
I’ve had probably 200 adults in my career say, “We know best,” pretty much, and it’s been bullshit. Right down to when I started my social networks and I would get an email from one of the record companies saying, “Just realized that you’re not social-networking to your fullest potential. Here’s how! Use lots of hashtags! Only focus on the music, like ‘I’ve cooked something up in the studio, you guys, can’t wait for you to hear it!’ Do ‘follow sprees’ and constantly reply to fans!” I was like, “You’ve just got to trust me. Everyone will hate me in two months if I do that.”
On admitting they love Ke$ha:
I myself am a former indie snob who had to have a moment of realizing that I love pop music. Did you have such a moment, or are their particular artists who sealed the deal for you?
I definitely had that moment. I remember being in year eight, the year before high school, and absolutely loving “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha, and then six months later I got really into Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear and Yeasayer. I still love those bands, but I definitely went through a “you have to forget about the Ke$ha part of your life” thing. And then I realized that pop is really cool. In year 10, I have a really good friend called Zack, and we basically spent the first year of our friendship listening to old Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado and picking apart their melodic brilliance and everything that made us feel something and what it all meant. We would cover them on weird instruments, which was our way of accepting that type of music, but now I look back on that time and I’m like, that was actually a really good way of bringing together the alternative music that I liked and just the good, honest, fun pop stuff.
On Lorde’s muse:
There’s a dedication in the liner notes to James [Lowe] where you thank him for the “truest, purest friendship [you’ve] known,” and I just think that’s so beautiful, because people rarely talk about relationships as being friendships. How has even just the friendship part of that relationship inspired your writing?
I’m quite solitary by nature, I guess. I don’t have heaps and heaps of friends. Often I can appreciate a place regardless of the people I’m sharing it with, which I know a lot of people can’t do, but for me…this is really personal, but James and I spent a lot of time, and still do spend a lot of time, driving around all over our city, and that for me was enlightening, because for once, the company that I’m keeping is affecting how I feel about these places, and in a positive way. I think that was kind of what drove me to write a lot of the stuff on Pure Heroine, because I really thought about where I was in conjunction with who I was in conjunction with who I was with.
And on Lorde’s love for Kanye:
Can you talk to me about Kanye, who I know you’ve said you love? What do you love about him?
First of all, I just really like the music that he makes, apart from anything else. I’ve been listening to it since I was a little kid. I think his ability to evolve from album to album and still make something that I think is really incredible is super cool. That’s way harder to do than people think. I heard someone say that Kanye will do something first, and everyone will think it’s weird until six months later, when everyone else is doing it. So Kanye kind of takes the fall by being the pioneer. Like with 808s and Heartbreak, everyone was like, “We don’t understand this.” And then Kanye kind of predicted something but because he was the first one, people thought it was weird. I love how he is just such a single human being—he seems to not have much creative dependence. He just seems so at one with who he is creatively and that is really admirable, I think. And then, just as a performer, I often find myself telling people, “Can we just make this a little bit more like a Kanye performance?” [Laughs] I was on Jools Holland the same week as him, and he did this performance of “Bound 2″ with Charlie Wilson. I saw three minutes of it, and to this day it was the best musical performance I’ve ever seen. His dedication to the classic nature of a single person on a stage, as a performer, I find really inspiring.
(Photo by Getty)