Following her update on her new album and long-awaited tour, Lorde sends another dispatch through her bulletin, Solar Institute, where she takes us down the rabbit hole of her notes app.
One could sit for long periods of time just thinking about what function on the modern-day appendage that is a smartphone is of highest importance. There is no singular right in this context, considering the unique needs of each person. For example, a dedicated content creator would not only hold social media platforms in high regard, but also inextricably linked are editing apps that gets their job done and well. In the same breadth of the conversation, there are those that clock in hours of use on audio-based applications for music or podcasts, the voracious pop culture consumer is most likely on some streaming service almost always, and of course, a sizable population scrolling endlessly on digital reading materials.
There are other essentials of course, like the calendar or fitness trackers, but tucked in between these flashier battery drainers is an underrated app that usually gets a bad rep, especially where influencers and personalities are concerned. Let’s face it, nothing is more dishearteningly and disappointingly expected when one is wiggling out of a sticky situation or incriminating issue than a haphazardly written apology on a notes app. But its unseemly precedent aside, it is actually the most useful button you unknowingly tap at on the daily. Important um, notes? Yes. To-do list? Sure. That random set of lyrics you want to remember? Of course. For Lorde, nothing beats going back on things she’s typed out on her phone notes app, which she humbly files as of vague interest to her audience.
“Notes has become sort of this mythical zone for the modern songwriter, as with Voice Memos, and it’s true—we are all writing every fucking song using these two applications,” Lorde writes in Solar Institute, an appropritately newsletter published to her mailing list. “When i think about any romantic notions I may have had as a kid of writing my songs elegantly in a notebook with pen, I laugh. The truth is, my written hand is really slow. Typing is the fastest I can get something out, and speed is key. But my Notes app also functions as a sort of interesting time capsule—I can see lists of groceries or Christmas gifts I needed to buy years ago alongside deep thoughts about where I’m at and what I’m making as they start to form.”
Decoding The Notes App
Several weeks since her last update, the latest bulletin of Lorde picks up from when she announced her album, its tracklist, and a much-awaited tour. Save for a few posts on Instagram since June, the Kiwi singer has been off social media for the most part, something which she describes as incredible. In Solar Institute, which fits in her Solar Power narrative, is a beam of light warming up the senses on what is otherwise drab and dreary. “I know it’s a different sort of pace to what you’re probably used to, and much more long-form, but I’m looking forward to retraining our brains together,” she says in the first send-off, alluding greatly to a making special connections therein.
Delivering on her promise, Lorde pops back in, sharing what she has been up to since. In an articulate exposition, but also still curiously ambiguous, she details her move from New Zealand, Los Angeles, and further East in America. Here, she lets us in on her day-to-day encounters, which includes a sort of pop start existential crisis. “I felt like a freak, you know? Like a fancy little goldfish in her own special bowl,” she recounts of the jarring shift in perspective while shooting a thing. “I know you know this, but pop star world is ridiculous and extravagant and excessive and very looks-focused, and I’m reminded of the deep oddness when I’ve been away from it for a while.”
For the most part, she says, there has been a lot of walking and taking in of the city that is “at its most juicy and vibrant,” and well, finding ways to ground herself. “Each day that passes sees me become a little more in it, a little less shy about everything and a little more ready to invite you in.”
Oh, and the notes app you ask? We’re getting to all that now.
We’ll Get To That
Sometime in 2018, Lorde opens up to her readers about wanting to write anything for the album, the thoughts that started to rise from the genesis of Solar Power, and unfortunately, just like the rest of us, starting to hate being online. Generously taking us down the rabbit hole of her notes app, she whisks us through the different states of her head space, which are fragmented until 2019. From idyllic increments of seeing herself as a domestic person, a partner, a mother, detesting the drama of the internet, and a rousing recording of cicadas in Matapouri, we get to know more about the person that Lorde really is beyond the gleam and glisten of fame.
In true Lorde fashion, bits and bites of her notes app is for the most part sunny, purposefully abstract, and eerily prophetic. While some are more empowering, such as a screenshot that reads, “People are relying on you to bring light to them in dark time and to be a conduit of light and energy. Believe in yourself that you can do that for them, You’ve done that before,” there are those that appear to be well ahead of its time. “Antibodies,” it goes, a full year before the world capsized in crisis. “Doing their work while we are sleeping. Let’s hope the antibodies do what they’re supposed to.”
Think what you will about it, but it is greatly insightful. In this dedicated devotional of the woman we know of as Lorde, as rendered ever so nonchalantly in her notes app, she is slowly subverting the system of the “star.” There is a lot of awareness that comes with this exercise, which trails a rejection of the machinations of the perception-obsessed world. More than anything, it drapes itself as a dispatch from a friend letting you in on her little secrets and codes seamed that you have to read between the lines. A bit of a challenge, yes, but that’s what makes it fun. And yes, a little more light is shed into the upcoming release of her musical essay. “Really, I want you to have the whole album tomorrow,” she teases. “But we’ll get to all that.”