Singer now on centre stage

Shore kid makes good at Splendour in the Grass

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 02/08/2013
Lorde
Ben Watson

YOUNG TALENT: Ella Yelich-O’Connor, second from left, with her Belmont Intermediate peers Thomas Calver, Ben Halstead and Morgan Allen, featured in the North Shore Times in 2008.

Lorde
POP PRINCESS: Lorde, real name Ella Yelich-O’Connor, performs at Splendour in the Grass in Byron Bay, Australia at the weekend.

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Lorde's meteoric rise to the top of the charts is well-known but who exactly Ella Yelich-O'Connor is remains the better part of a mystery.

The Takapuna teen crept on to the New Zealand music scene late last year, hidden behind a hand-drawn caricature while releasing tracks online from what would become her debut EP, The Love Club.

Her quirky lyricism and style has resonated with listeners around the world, with a guiding hand from producer Joel Little, former frontman for Auckland pop-punk outfit Goodnight Nurse.

Strong support from independent radio and the power of social media pushed her Facebook fans from a handful to more than 80,000.

But Lorde's talents have been documented in the media since she was just 10 years old. In 2007, she won the North Shore Primary Schools' Speech competition while representing Vauxhall School.

Her Belmont Intermediate team featured in the North Shore Times in 2008 after narrowly missing out on a trip to Oxford, England, for the Kids' Lit Quiz.

"We're really glad but we're really annoyed we couldn't go to Oxford. We'll be back next year," Ella told the paper at the time.

And she was right as the team competed in and placed second in the world final held in South Africa the following year.

The same year, she was discovered by Universal Music after a Belmont Intermediate talent quest where she sang Duffy's Warwick Avenue - she was just 12.

In March, after being signed and hidden away for four years to fine-tune her sound, Lorde released The Love Club, a five-song EP with lead single Royals hitting number one on the music charts.

Around 18,000 free copies of The Love Club were given away but it still went double-platinum on the NZ charts - selling more than 30,000.

But Lorde and her music label have retained her air of mystery.

The teen sensation gives few interviews and seldom reveals much on Twitter and Facebook.

Her big break so far came at the weekend when she was called in last-minute to replace American singer-songwriter Frank Ocean at the Australian festival Splendour in the Grass.

Royals also hit top 10 on the alternative radio airplay chart in the United States - the first appearance by a solo female artist in the charts since Fiona Apple's Criminal in 1997.

Now Lorde is one of 20 Kiwi musicians shortlisted for the APRA Silver Scroll award.

The Silver Scroll has been awarded to one artist every year since 1965 and is the only peer-voted songwriting award in the country.

Lorde faces tough competition from soloists Ladi6, Aaradhna and Anna Coddington, as well as groups Six60, Artisan Guns, @Peace and The Phoenix Foundation.

Voting closes August 18 and the winner will be announced on October 15 at Vector Arena.

Last year's Silver Scroll award went to former Devonport resident Stephanie Brown aka Lips.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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