Musicians on Musicians: Lorde & David Byrne – Rolling Stone

On combating phase shock, remaining true to your inspiration, and the secrets of songwriting

Lorde: Heres something Im curious about. I consider you as someone who is truly plugged into the higher culture, and all things social. I wanted to know if you enjoy this, or if you feel beholden to it?
Byrne: Im not on social networks. I have a little workplace, and I stated, “Just post my images and well leave it at that.” However Im not inspecting things.
Lorde: Im not, either.
Byrne: When social media began to emerge, I thought, “I believe I have enough to do, rather than feeding this.” I was more concerned about my workflow than concerned about what other results it may have. What about you? Where do you get your info, then? Mainly from talking with buddies?
Lorde: I really discover out about a lot of new things from newspapers on my phone. I miss out on a lot, and that was something that I had to end up being OK with, due to the fact that as a teenager and late adolescent, I had all the fingers on all the pulses about every little subgenre and undercurrent.
Byrne: Im conscious that theres things that take place– protest marches and things like that– that I would become aware of from a good friend, and I would state “How d you know about that?” “On social media.” Thats a few of the stuff Im missing out on.
Lorde: Yes, I had the same experience. Its tricky.
Byrne: I get up every early morning and I have my grapefruit and my coffee, and I read at least 2 papers online. So, for that time, for that hour, Im type of a news junkie.
Lorde: I like the grapefruit. Do you have the little spoon with the pointy edge?
Byrne: Were getting very individual here. I simply peel it with my hands. I take the skin off and rip it in half.
Lorde: Wow. Thats insane, David. Ive never peeled a grapefruit.
Byrne: Not that hard to do.
Lorde: You heard it here first, people.

” There was a time when I believed things had to be edgy. I was perhaps afraid that if things sounded too pretty, then it was shallow.”– David Byrne

Lorde: I think thats true, in fact, of your work. Due to the fact that I like treating my work like a little map that is just for me, I utilize uniqueness a lot. I can put things that truly only have meaning to me. It seems like a scrapbook.
Byrne: Was that a song about biding farewell to that location?
Lorde: Yeah. I sort of got swallowed up a little bit.
Byrne: I keep in mind for myself, yes, there were times where I got swallowed up. There were times, likewise, out there in Los Angeles, where you get up in the morning and you step outside.
Lorde: Time for a confession. Ive willfully not seen American Utopia, since its really important to me to see it in the flesh. You combine tunes from different records within the show in a way that works well. Is it easy for you to do?
Byrne: I dont mind. Ive discovered the difficult method that you do have to play a few of the hits for the audience.
Lorde: Did you utilize to not play them?
I started working with a very large Latin band, and there were a few older songs that I could work in there, however a lot of them didnt fit that musical style, so I was doing 80 percent brand-new things that the audience had actually never ever heard. Thats something in our organization that always puzzles me. Can you just repeat that again?”
Lorde: True, thats a funny method of thinking of that.
Byrne: But its likewise real that music has a different thing. Music is repeatable that way and can move individuals again.
Lorde: I wished to ask about the relationship in between clearness and secret in your work. I remember as a teenager, I was pals with great deals of kids who would go on to art school, and they truly liked what they liked and desired me to like it. Often I would try and not be able to push through the polyphonic intricacy. I understood later that wasnt really my failing or anyones failing. I would try so hard, and it would break my brain. Your work had that secret I like and the clarity that I need. Do you lean towards one or the other?

Byrne: Oh yes, not human. No blinking. I think at that point, I must have been extremely worried and horrified. I envision my motions were most likely twitchy. However it was fine. Thats me. Theres nothing to be embarrassed of, thats just what I do.
Lorde: Well, I was extremely taken by it. If that is showmanship, thats one of the coolest, craziest things.
Byrne: I heard your music ages ago. Among the important things that struck me was how minimal it was. There was a lot going on in the vocal area with consistencies, however musically, it was disrobed– simply what you need as far as beats and keyboards, and no more. Which totally knocked me out. I believed, “I might learn from that.”
Lorde: Thats extremely nice of you. I feel I have actually gotten more maximal as I become a better producer.

It takes just a few minutes after they meet for Lorde and David Byrne to get in sync. The pop star, 24, and the elder statesman, 69, are on the rooftop of an image studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on a windy Sunday afternoon. Both are worn stylishly subtle all-black ensembles: Byrne remains in a Hermès turtleneck, while Lorde is delicately regal in a loose-fitting Saint Laurent match. Neither is using shoes. They start standing side by side with stoic expressions. Byrne begins swaying carefully to the reggae music playing on a neighboring boombox. Soon both are leaning back, striking presents, laughing, really nearly swag-surfing.
” This is my dream!” Lorde confides after they go downstairs for the interview. Shes brought a phone loaded with concerns that she drew up for Byrne, whose music was a substantial touchstone of her youth in New Zealand. The strikingly independent point of view that made her an out-of-nowhere phenomenon in 2013 with “Royals” is still going strong on Solar Power– the album she launched this summer season after a four-year break in which she took a trip to Antarctica and returned in touch with the power of nature– and shes eagerly anticipating getting to understand among her earliest musical heroes.

Byrne: Did you get any pushback in the beginning: “You require to include this, that, and the other to this production?”
Lorde: Its amusing that you state that. When I launched “Royals” on my SoundCloud, simply for free, I quickly spoke with an American record business, and they were like, “For the real variation, you might require to put a bit more into it.” “Oh, this is the genuine version!”
Byrne: So you felt, right away, you had a sense of this is what it desires to be.
Lorde: Yeah. You make things and you understand they are not right, however your taste is intact, and that will get you there ultimately.
Byrne: I have a question for you. Im jealous of songwriters that can put particular things in a song. On your brand-new album, on “California,” you discuss the Laurel Canyon Country Store. I lived there in the mid-Eighties, so I understand what thats like. Thats where you would opt for some groceries or pizza.
Lorde: Good pizza.
Byrne: Yeah. I try to do that, and its very tough for me.

Byrne has actually been considering his past lately, too, for American Utopia– the hit show, based on his full catalog from Talking Heads onward, that returned to Broadway this fall after going dark throughout the pandemic (and ending up being a Spike Lee joint in the meantime). Hes equally excited to make Lordes acquaintance: When he pedaled here from his Manhattan house on a streamlined blue-gray e-bike (with matching helmet), he brought a crumpled e-mail hard copy and a legal pad with some doodled notes of his own, which he carries around as he cheerfully introduces himself to everyone on set.

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Lorde and David Byrne photographed in Brooklyn on August 8th, 2021.
Photo by Shaniqwa Jarvis for Rolling Stone. Lorde: Suit and t-shirt by Gucci. Byrne: Suit by Rowing Blazers. T-shirt by Brioni.

Lorde: I like that, thats great. I do a lot of puzzles on trip. Im often applying a piece right when its time to go, which maybe does not assist the stage shock. Thats excessive of a change of mood. Im still looking for the puzzle at the very first song.
Byrne: During the pandemic, I started doing drawings, which mightve been a kind of therapy. And a great deal of cooking.
Lorde: That was another question I desired to ask. Are you really into food? Or cooking?
Byrne: I truly take pleasure in cooking. I believe its underappreciated as a creative art kind.
Lorde: I entirely agree.
Byrne: Once you find out from recipes, lets say, how to make something, you can start to improvise. You can discover to replace one sour thing for another sour thing, and that modifications it a little bit. Its sort of like music in that method. You know that you require something here, but what is it? And then you get to use it to buddies, and state, “What do you think about this?” Perhaps not a lot during the pandemic, when I wound up with a great deal of frozen leftovers.
Lorde: I prepare a lot. Im not a recipe cook– I just do whatever Im going to do. Ive made some good dressings.
Byrne: You indicate chutney and things like that?
Lorde: Yeah, like a chutney and jam and some sort of tasty something.
Byrne: Thats nice for your pals.
Lorde: OK, this is another concern that might be, I dont know, obvious. Exists anything that, looking back, youve obtained, that you can impart? A little bit of wisdom?
Byrne: Thats an actually difficult one.
Lorde: There might not be a response.
Byrne: Sometimes I might think that I have some knowledge that I should impart to somebody else– “You require to know this,” or whatever– however I likewise feel, who are you to be informing other individuals? I often pull back. Who are you to presume that you understand much better than somebody else? Much better that they discover it, by seeing what youre doing for themselves, rather than you informing them.

Lorde and David Byrne photographed in Brooklyn on August 8th, 2021.
Style director and styling on David Byrne: Alex Badia. Lorde: Styled by Karla Welch for the Wall Group. Byrne: Styled by Stephanie Tricola for Honey Artists.

Byrne: I think I default to more uncertain, abstract lyrics. I recognized I enjoy a tune thats all questions, but I do not compose a lot of them.
Lorde: I love a question in a tune.
ByrneE: I read something the other day, like, “Is this the genuine me? It was simply a series of concerns that went down a bunny hole.

Lorde: I consider appeal as a genuine tenet of your work, for sure.
Byrne: Thank you. On “The Man With the Axe,” you discuss “numerous gowns.” Whats that about?
Lorde: Well, Im one of 4 kids, and I had a lot of things that my sis had used– not a great deal of my own things, very little pocket cash. And then I was 16 and I got a charge card, and hello. Because song, the next thing that I say is “I have a throat that fills with panic every festival day,” because I get truly bad phase shock.
Byrne: What do you do for stage shock?
Lorde: I do not have a great response for that. I tape little notes to the phase for myself, so I would go over and be able to read something that me from the past is trying to tell me from the future.
Byrne: When I was more youthful, I constantly felt socially uneasy. I would toss myself on a stage and do a speech of some sort, or I would carry out something crazy and then pull away back into myself.
Lorde: But now?
Byrne: Theres a little bit, but not the same.
Lorde: Youre not believing “Maybe I can leave that door and run down the street and escape here”? Since that does come to me periodically. “Maybe the vehicle can simply go around the block for four hours and then I missed out on the show.”.
Byrne: No, I havent thought that in a while.
Lorde: Its hard to understand if the pandemic has made my stage shock worse or better, because I havent had the possibility to test it out. Do you have any little things that you do before you carry out, or any ways of snapping into that mode?
Byrne: I dont have much of a routine, that kind of a thing. Keep my mind a little bit away from what Im about to do.

Lorde: Thats cool. Youre also so great with what I consider a pop melody. Have you always been drawn to that, or is that something thats been easy to access as a songwriter?
Byrne: I constantly liked it. I had no fear of pop tune or being accessible. I dont believe in the beginning I was able to do it–.
Lorde: I think you were.
Byrne: Well, thank you. I listen to earlier things and I sound a bit desperate, attempting to get throughout, which is a good thing too. I remember, most likely like a lot of people, purchasing these songbooks from different artists, just kind of discovering the tunes.
Lorde: Thats the 2nd part of you, that states hey there to individuals.
Byrne: Yes. You can state something rather extensive, something kind of radical, even, but the tune can sound sexy and quite stunning on the surface.
Lorde: So there was a time where you were not wanting things to sound beautiful?
Byrne: Yes, there was a time when I thought things had to be edgy. I was maybe afraid that if things sounded too stunning or pretty, then it was shallow. I thought, “OK, it can be done.”.

” Ive thought of you a lot,” she tells him as they take a seat to talk. “I dont even understand where to begin, David. I simply have a lot to ask you.” Byrne smiles courteously: “Ah, thank you.” And theyre off.
Lorde: Are you an introvert? Do you need to go and have a rest after a day like this, or are you charged up by it?
Byrne: Im not as shy as I used to be.
Lorde: You can press through it?
Byrne: Yeah. Some of my friends say, “Could you simply not say hi to everybody?
Lorde: No, its great to say hi.
Byrne: I like to have discussions with, say, the person at the checkout in the grocery shop. If I can say something funny and make them laugh, then Ive done an excellent thing today. That stated, some of the introversion things remains with me. I have no issue hanging out alone. Ill have conversations with myself sometimes. And its not crazy conversations– simply type of mundane things.
Lorde: Aloud?
Byrne: Sometimes. Im happy dealing with my own, whether its on a tune or something else. I remember, this was before the pandemic, I would more than happy in some cases going to a restaurant by myself and simply reading by the counter.
Lorde: Me too. They like you more, the staff. They like individuals dining alone, I believe due to the fact that were less irritating.
Byrne: That could be.
Lorde: Heres something I need to know for my own individual enjoyment, to satisfy my curiosity. The very first time I was made mindful of your work was by my mother. It might have been a response to something that I was listening or viewing to that was not so great, and she said, “Ive got to show you something proper.” And she took out a performance that you did of “Take Me to the River,” and I had never ever seen anything like that in my life. As I viewed it over and over– this is such a niche concern, I say sorry. You didnt blink for a minute. Was that showmanship?

It takes just a few minutes after they meet for Lorde and David Byrne to get in sync. Both are dressed in stylishly low-key all-black ensembles: Byrne is in a Hermès turtleneck, while Lorde is casually royal in a loose-fitting Saint Laurent suit. Byrne: Yes, there was a time when I believed things had to be edgy. Byrne: I do not have much of a routine, that kind of a thing. Byrne: Sometimes I might think that I have some wisdom that I should impart to someone else– “You need to understand this,” or whatever– however I also feel, who are you to be telling other people?

Lorde and David Byrne photographed in Brooklyn on August 8th, 2021.
Photograph by Shaniqwa Jarvis for Rolling Stone.

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