How Did Lorde Make It?

"Lorde" by Constanza.CH is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Having something unique to say lyrically can be more important than musical ‘chops’ - says Lisa Popeil

Known by her stage name Lorde, Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor was born in 1996 in New Zealand. She is of Croatian and Irish descent. At age 5, she attended drama school and developed her public speaking skills. An avid reader, Lorde cites that her lyrics have been heavily influenced by the broad range of books she absorbed from the age of 6.

First Performances

At the age of 13, Lorde and her friend, Louis McDonald, performed two songs by Pixie Lott and Kings of Leon on a local radio show. Lorde’s father then sent a demo and video of the duo singing Duffy’s “Warwick Avenue” to Scott Maclachlan, an A&R manager at Universal Music Group in New Zealand. She was then signed to a development deal with UMG. She continued to perform cover songs with Louis McDonald at a variety of venues in New Zealand. In 2011, UMG paid for Lorde to have twice-weekly voice lessons and was set up to collaborate with a variety of songwriters but without success.

The Love Club on SoundCloud

After beginning to perform her own original songs publicly in 2011, she was paired with Joel Little, a New Zealand songwriter, producer and singer. Lorde then chose her stage name based on her obsession with “royals and aristocracy”. Together she and Joel Little recorded a 5-song EP entitled “The Love Club”. Lorde self-released the “The Love Club” through her SoundCloud account which resulted in 60,000 free downloads. After UMG decided to commercially release the EP in March 2013, it peaked at #2 on the New Zealand and Australia record charts. By June of that year, the song “Royals” was released and peaked at the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 – for nine weeks in a row. The track went on to win two Grammy Awards, for ‘Best Pop Solo Performance’ and ‘Song of the Year’ in 2014.

“Lorde @ Lollapalooza 2014” by liliane callegari is licensed under CC BY 2.0


  1. You’re never too young to develop your artistry.
  2. Having something unique to say lyrically can be more important than musical chops.
  3. Finding the right collaborator is golden.
  4. There’s a limit sometimes to what you can achieve on your own. Having a record company behind you is still a worthy professional goal.
  5. Parents (or managers) working behind the scenes can make or break a career.
  6. Be inspired by many artists: from the worlds of music, literature, art, history.

-Lisa Popeil

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