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Whatever you do, don’t call 16-year-old Lorde a singer. The New Zealand high-school student, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor, is a musician. On the strength of her first EP, The Love Club, released last November, she has already secured significant record deals worldwide; her debut single, “Royals,” has been number one in her home country for nearly four months; and since she released the five-track EP online for free, she has been the subject of Twitter endorsements by Grimes, her personal music idol, as well as the pop artist Outasight.

The self-aware and confident teenager, who started writing her own music as a 12-year-old when she was first signed to Universal on a development deal, was still in bed on a recent Saturday morning when she firmly clarified that she’s “first and foremost a writer—it’s all about the lyrics.” Unmasking her identity to eagerly awaiting fans for the first time three months ago, Lorde says she has reached “a strange level of fame” in her hometown of Auckland. But that fame is now stretching across the Tasman, where she is about to play sold-out shows in both Melbourne and Sydney, before flying to America for the first time to tour Los Angeles and New York this fall.  Her debut album is due out at the end of this year.

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