Precocious teen queen Tavi Gevinson has taken over the world as a blogger with her site Rookie and as a motivational speaker/fashion icon for youngsters. Pop superstar Lorde has done the same, with her hit single Royals storming the charts last year and following with an acclaimed debut album Pure Heroine.
Both have succeeded despite their age (17) and gender (female) and fulfilled a massive cultural niche desperate to be taken seriously (teenage girls) - a fact which recently shamed old man Toby McCasker into feelings of inadequacy. Getting the two in conversation, then, just seems to make sense.
In an 11-page interview published on Rookie last week, the two ruminate on being young subjects of older male writers, year-end lists, the irrelevancy of rock bands in a world with Beyonce, and a whole bunch of other great stuff. Here are the cliffnotes.
1. They're no fan of rockists.
"Tavi: I'm so happy [Beyonce] exists now too! Some guy on Twitter said, like, 'Oh, I'm so sad for your generation that you don't have the Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden.'
Lorde: I saw that! [Laughs]
Tavi: I was like, 'Ugh, no, we're fine. We don't need testosterone-y bands to worship...'
Lorde: [Laughs] People always say I was born in the wrong era. And I'm like, just don't. Stop."
2. Lorde knows her literature, for real.
"Anyway, three or four years ago I had, like, my moment with short fiction. My mom gave me a Raymond Carver book and I was like, This is so cool. Before that I'd been into Roald Dahl short stories and stuff. Tobias Wolff's writing has had a big influence on me. There's this guy called Wells Tower who has only one collection, but when I read it at the age of 13 it was the best collection I had ever read. It was so good! That book that I gave you, by Claire Vaye Watkins - I think she's incredible. And Kurt Vonnegut - he's way sassy, but I love that."
3. Both Tavi and Lorde feel damned both ways about their press.
"Tavi: I remember when people started paying attention to what I was doing, and it was like, 'She should be getting knocked up like all the other kids her age!' It's like, you complain when you think teenagers are stupid, and then when they try to do something, you're all, 'Oh, they're growing up too fast, they don't know what's good for them.'
Lorde: It seems like a double standard to me. And there's another part of it which I find really strange, which is that so many interviewers, even ones that I consider really intelligent and good writers, will do the, like, 'Oh, you're not taking your clothes off like Miley Cyrus and all these girls' thing, which to me is just the weirdest thing to say to someone. But then people will say, 'She's always talking about being bored, that's petulant,' which I feel like is kind of taking the piss out of teenage emotions - just, like, making light of how teenagers feel. When people react that way about things that every teenager experiences, how can you expect to make anything good?"
4. Lorde was apparently less sculpted by her label than some people have assumed.
"I have never done media training. I feel like I probably should have, because then I could've better identified some of that baiting in the beginning. Now I'm really good at it ... Now when people are like, 'Tell me what you think of Miley!' I'll say, 'What do you think of Miley?' and they like flounder and say, 'Well, I think she's really talented ...' and I'm like, there you go."
5. It's hard being a counter-cultural #teen icon.
"Tavi: Does being singled out as the kind of outsider repping the "weird girls" ever feel like a double-edged sword? Because then you become responsible for representing the "real" teens ... Sorry, that was just me talking to myself, ugh.
Lorde: [Laughs] No, it's OK! I have definitely felt that sort of pressure, and it's strange, because while I dress and talk somewhat differently from other people whose songs are in the Top 40, I feel like more people dress like me than the media makes you believe. You know what I mean? I'm not an anomaly, so it feels weird that I get treated like one and have that pressure of 'You represent all teenagers in the Western world. No stress!'"
"Tavi: I also think it's limiting to define an audience ahead of time. This is something I've brought on myself, by being like, "There are no REAL teen publications! That's what I'll do!" But then it's like, well, if I want Rookie to be successful and popular, then people will invalidate the realness by saying it's popular and mainstream -
Lorde: Oh, f*** that. No. That's - don't even. I've had that as well, and it's so much worse in pop music, because there's such a stigma to [the genre] - as soon as you make pop music, what you do isn't art and it's not real and it's a product of old people or whatever. It doesn't mean anything. Don't worry about those people."
6. Lorde is going experimental.
"Lately I've been writing a lot of instrumental music and like 10-minute jams where one tiny part of the beat is repeated over and over and over and over and over again - I've been having kind of a moment of musical discovery."
7. Lorde is an Arcade Fire fan too.
"I've been doing a lot of alternative radio festivals and playing with Phoenix every night and with Arcade Fire for a couple of them. It was so cool, because every night I got to experience dream artists live.
"Arcade Fire are just on another level. If you ever get a chance to see them, you have to go. Just the energy is like...there are no inhibitions, everyone is just having an amazing time onstage and really letting loose, and for a couple of the best jams from this album they set the disco ball going - I've noticed that they only do that in certain moments that feel like you could just lose yourself in and do this kind of dancing [Does noodle-y dancing] and just have such a good time because the grooves are so fantastic. It's great."
8. Tavi and Lorde are figuring out feminism.
"Lorde: I think I'm speaking for a bunch of girls when I say that the idea that feminism is completely natural and shouldn't even be something that people find mildly surprising. It's just a part of being a girl in 2013 ... Even now, I find a lot of feminist reading quite confusing and that often there's a set of rules, and people will be like, 'Oh, this person isn't a true feminist because they don't embody this one thing,' and I don't know, often there is a lot of gray area that can be hard to navigate ... Did you ever have that problem of getting into feminist writings and then feeling confused about all the ways people's opinions differed and all of the weird rulebooks and you're like, What?
Tavi: Oh, yeah. Ultimately, I think we are all here for the same reason. I think it's so personal, though, for each person who identifies as a feminist, and it can be related to the hardest shit that they've had to put up with in their lives and all of these different ways in which they've been oppressed and marginalized. It can be so delicate and hard to navigate that sometimes I just feel like, 'I never want to write about this again, because how can you ever know enough?'
Tavi: 'How can you ever have read enough to be able to talk about this in the right way?' What I've learned is that the answer isn't to retreat into ignorance, but to find the ways in which it's important to you and talk about that and help other women talk about their experiences too. Just finding the human part of it is what I find myself coming back to when I feel disillusioned with feminism as a community. It's complicated."
9. Lorde has great hair tips.
"The trick for me is, don't wash your hair that much. I wash my hair a couple times a week, sometimes once a week, sometimes once every two weeks. You shouldn't do that, readers at home, 'cause this is a unique type of straw I've got going on here. But also I use product: I use one called Potion 9 by Sebastian, but it's expensive, so just find some sort of like creamy situation and scrunch it into your hair when it's wet and then let it dry. No blow-drying, no brushing."
10. And Tavi has great feeling-better tips.
"There are a lot of different kinds of sadness, but the two broadest categories are the kind that can be beautiful and cathartic and you're crying and listening to music and it feels kind of good actually, and the kind where it just sucks and you don't want to get out of bed and you feel completely trapped.
"And my methods for both are different. For the beautiful one I just try to see it for what it is, and use it to get out a good cry and enjoy an album or whatever, or spoon with a friend. And with the other kind ... the good thing is that these days, nothing feels like the end of the world anymore, whereas in the earlier years of high school, and throughout middle school-and elementary school, actually - that stuff was really hard. But I think I'm just better now at being like, 'I'm having a bad day. I'll FaceTime with my friend. It's fine.'"
- Sydney Morning Herald