Lorde didn’t just hear the music that makes up her new album, Melodrama. She saw it too.
The New Zealand pop star has synesthesia, a rare condition which causes senses to blend together. Specifically, Lorde has sound-to-color synesthesia which causes her to associate specific sounds with specific colors. (Imagine a melody being described as blue, or red, or violet.) And, she says it’s the driving force behind her music.
In a recent interview with Seth Meyers, she described working with others on her new album and trying to translate what she was seeing into language and sound that they could understand.
In an interview with Vevo, she said:
For a long time I assumed that people had a color for each day of the week or for all of their friends’ names. Then you just realize, ‘no, you’re just weird – that’s your own name.’
The work that I do is very much a reflection of the inside of my brain ‘translating the colors in her head.’
To experience a piece of music and have this image whirling around you – you know, you pick a chord then all of a sudden there’s this flood of a different color or a different texture. It’s exciting and it’s strange and it makes everything feel a little bit more vivid.
There are definitely moments when I just want to listen instead of seeing everything because there are definitely sounds which are overwhelmingly visual with texture and color. It’s like ‘ah, it’s too much!’
Interestingly, Lorde isn’t the only singer/songwriter affected by synesthesia. Many musicians, including Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Kayne West, and Pharrell, are synesthetes. In fact, according to LiveScience, synesthesia is seven times more common in artists, poets, and novelists.
Lorde’s new album, Melodrama, is available now.