Lorde Talks 'Hunger Games,' Nirvana and Plans for a New LP

"For me it's all about what I want to say with the records"

Lorde appears on five tracks on the new 'Hunger Games' soundtrack. Credit: Joseph Llanes

It's been just over a year since Lorde released her now-platinum debut, Pure Heroine, where she sang wistfully about "getting on my first plane." The 18-year-old has since racked up major frequent-flier miles, becoming an alt-pop cultural icon (two South Park parodies in one month!) along the way. In October, her tour finally led back to her native New Zealand: "It definitely feels like a bit of a victory lap," she says. She's also found time to assemble an eclectic soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – and to give passing thought to a new album of her own. Here's what we learned checking in with pop's most talented teen.

She's the Boss
"Everyone my age read the books and saw the films," Lorde says of Hunger Games. "I got a call: 'You've been asked to write the end-credit song.' But I wanted ownership in the process. They came back: 'Would you like to do the soundtrack?' I was like, 'Uh, that would work.' " She appeared on five tracks, including a Diplo-produced duet with Ariana Grande and a collaboration with the Chemical Brothers and R&B star Miguel ("He's the best possible person with vocal melodies that I know") – and also got Kanye West to "rework" her single "Yellow Flicker Beat." ("He's so private I feel weird talking about how he does stuff. I feel lucky to even be in a room with him.")

In addition to Grace Jones ("this high priestess presiding over us all") and Charli XCX, the LP spotlights rising artists like Raury, Tinashe and XOV – "artists I heard on YouTube and had 10,000 hits. I thought what they were doing was cool and could be taken to a different, interesting place."

Nirvana Changed Her Life
Lorde is still processing her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performance with the surviving members of Nirvana last April. "I knew it was a big deal," she says, "but I don't think I really understood how much weight those three minutes had. It was over in the blink of an eye for me, but it's kind of lasted. There's a song on the soundtrack that's just me and an organ, and it's cool to hear my voice again in that kind of vein that I did with 'All Apologies.' "

She's Taking Her Time With Her Next Album
"I'm very tentatively starting," she says. "I've done a lot of writing, lyrically, but I started the soundtrack just as I was getting into album stuff, and that took up all of my creative head. But I have been plotting out ideas. I guess other people don't write like that, but for me it's all about what I want to say with the records. I don't really have any sort of timetable. I'm not in any kind of rush. Part of me thinks that the longer I leave it, the better a musician I'll be. [Laughs] I used to do the same thing with homework! But I don't know if I'll be good at having time off."