For a minute, it’s easy to forget that Lorde is over 8,600 miles away, at home in New Zealand -- an island nation so remote, the sheep-to-human ratio is, famously, 7-to-1. Before our Skype connection starts failing (“The universe was like, ‘You’re talking about baking, no one cares,’” she quips after one crash), Lorde welcomes me into her little slice of the world: a lush, midcentury-style living room, with a black upright piano to her left and a Christmas tree to her right.
“There is a lot of green around us,” she says, panning to the de Gournay wallpaper hand-painted in a deep fern hue, then over to a set of glass doors that look onto a garden where the fennel is growing “tall enough to lead an army.”
It’s a few days before Christmas, and the 21-year-old born Ella Yelich-O’Connor has been holed up here, on break from a 65-city world tour in support of Melodrama, her stellar second LP, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in June 2017 and landed her a Grammy nomination for album of the year in November. (At the ceremony on Jan. 28, she’ll be up against Kendrick Lamar, JAY-Z, Bruno Mars and Childish Gambino.) Dressed in an off-the-shoulder buttercream blouse, she says her time has been mostly spent baking -- “I’ve been working my way through the Ottolenghi dessert book” -- and studying for her learner’s permit, a rite of passage she missed at age 16 when her debut album, Pure Heroine, sold 1.7 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. (Two days later, she giddily informs me she passed the driving test -- and made a banoffee pie.)