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Lorde and Conor Oberst interview each other

21 May 2014, 09:40 | Written by Luke Morgan Britton

​For a new feature in The New York Times, New Zealand pop sensation Lorde spoke to another musician who started young, Conor Oberst, with the pair discussing the mutual admiration they have for each other’s music.

Although not a die-hard fan of Bright Eyes herself, Lorde says that was introduced to Conor’s music recently by her boyfriend, who sees a similarity between the pair’s songwriting techniques. Oberst, on the other hand, speaks of his admiration for Lorde creating “amazing pop anthems” that “still communicate solid, concrete ideas”.

Read some highlights of the interview below and check out the full article here.

On mutual respect:

LORDE I knew about Bright Eyes because everyone at my school was obsessed with Bright Eyes. But I didn’t really have a supergood understanding of who you were. Then my current boyfriend introduced me to you — he’s an O.G., hard-core fan, like he had a forum in 2005 for you guys.

OBERST Right on.

LORDE He was like, I know how you write, and I know how he writes. It was really eye-opening for me as a writer, because — sorry I’m just going to dive into this — but the way you express emotion as a songwriter, it’s, like, childlike. It’s fierce and honest and intense, and you’re kind of defying people to say that they didn’t feel the same way as you. Everyone has those feelings that they don’t quite want to admit, but which you do, in songwriting.

OBERST A lot of that was starting at a young age, not realizing that it wasn’t cool to, like, express your emotions. I wasn’t old enough to be cynical or jaded. I had a similar reaction when I heard your music. So much stuff at your level, in the Top 40 world, is just like vapor: You hear a song and maybe you can hum the melody but you walk away with zero ideas having been communicated. And with your writing, you can do it all at once. You can have this amazing pop anthem that the whole world’s going to sing, and you can still communicate solid, concrete ideas and paint this very vivid picture of lost teenagers in this faraway place.

​On songwriting:

LORDE I reckon 85 percent of what I write is autobiographical. I’ll tweak stuff if I don’t think it sounds good in the story — my friends have been like, I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen in that way. But I struggle with being too honest. I remember writing a song when I was like 15, which was on my first EP, and it had the line, “my mother’s love is choking me,” because I’d had this fight with my mum ...

OBERST Did that bum her out?

LORDE Yeah, it’s the one thing that she hears and she always feels kind of sad about. Even though I told her so many times, I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry! It’s intense, dealing with that sort of stuff, but always wanting to just be straight up and express exactly what you were feeling.

OBERST A lot of times I don’t even know what I’m writing about until later and then I’m like, oh. It’s a delayed effect.

On longevity in music:

LORDE Sometimes I am, but also I think, like, there’s just so much time between being 15 and being 18 or 19, which is how old I’ll be when I’m releasing. I just think I’m so much better now. I’ve soaked up so many live shows, I’ve experienced so much more music. I feel like it’s equipped me to write in a way which is more exciting to me. I think I’m going to be O.K. I hope.

OBERST You’re going to be fine. I don’t know how it was for you, but when I was young, I never particularly thought about how old I was. People keep reminding you how old you are. The funny thing is, they’ll just keep calling you young and then one day, you’re, like, over the hill.

LORDE I can’t wait. [Both laugh.]

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