Indy Yelich is not your average teenager. Moving to the United States from Auckland, New Zealand, the 19-year-old is figuring out that adulthood could mean attending the Grammy’s one night and shopping at Target for cleaning supplies the next. The rising star has nearly 30,000 followers on her Instagram account, which she uses to share her ever-growing mind in a way only she can.
Though, after flipping through her new book, Sticky Notes, you might find that Miss Yelich is just like any other girl her age. Her poetry focuses on personal experiences ranging from heart breaks in Los Angeles to being cat-called in New York. Oh, and did I mention she’s Lorde’s little sister?
“Sticky Notes” contains over 60 unique poems divided between two chapters of “LA” and “NY.” The chapters mirror where most of Indy’s adult life has been divided.
It was a snowy day in New York City when I caught up with Indy. She was watching the snow fall quietly through the window of her new apartment. “Are you used to the snow?” I asked, as most of her life has been spent in New Zealand and LA. “Not on my back door!,” she said. With both of our copies of Sticky Notes fittingly covered in, well, sticky notes, I was ready to dive into this writer’s mind.
What brought you to the United States from New Zealand?
“I was always drawn to the city and being around a lot of people. New Zealand is amazing, but it was a little stagnant. As a young writer, I needed a change and I think I got that. I didn’t actually start writing [Sticky Notes] until I was over seas.”
How was LA compared to New Zealand? To NY?
“Well, I’ve been to LA a lot for work when I did Teen Vogue and did some acting. I’ve been to the Grammy’s and stuff. So, I knew the atmosphere. It’s very different from New Zealand, it’s not a very organic city. It’s a beautiful city, but New York is more [comparable] to New Zealand than LA was.”
Is there significance in seperating your poetry into two sections: “LA” and “NY”?
” I wasn’t really sure what I was doing in LA. I was in a bit of a rut, but in New York I found people my own age and went to school here. They are definitely different sections, New York is more about me coming into my own.”
In “Thievery,” you talk about being compared to Lorde. Has releasing your book helped you find your own identity?
“Yeah, I mean, my sister is an international superstar. But, the comparisons were never anyone else’s but mine. I had a voice in my head saying ‘You have to live up to this,’ but the more I worked the more free I became. When I wrote Sticky Notes, I found my own voice. Thievery is specifically in the LA section of my book, because that is when I was most alone in my thoughts. I didn’t have a passion to actively pursue. I wasn’t sure what I was doing.”
In “As If All I Read Is My Horoscope,” you said “I know how it feels to be shamed for wearing shorts.” For such a young person to be “shamed” like that, do you feel like you’re using your voice to inspire other men and women stand against this behavior?
“Yeah, I would walk outside in 100 degrees and people would honk at me. It’s awful. But, yeah definitely. I think I did my job when a girl said to me, ‘ I’m six-teen and you’re writing makes me believe I can do something like that.’ It’s really surreal to me that people are reading my book and I can do something to help them. A lot of people have said to me they can vocalize how they feel after reading my book. And I love that.”
What was it like moving to the US during the Trump presidency with all that was going on in LA and NY?
“I was supposed to move on January 20th when he was sworn in and I was just too scared! I couldn’t fly that day. You just don’t know. I couldn’t take the risk, so I moved a month later and it was okay. I’m very vocal on Twitter about it, but it’s not in our control I guess.”
You said you’re on an International Voyage of Finding Yourself. Has being independent in a new country helped you find yourself?
“ Oh, God! I didn’t know who I was before I moved over seas. I think this past year has been the most unreal experience. I’ve met a lot of my closest friends. I think learning about getting your own apartment and learning about getting a credit line is a growing aspect! I never thought Sunday mornings would involve going to Target getting cleaning supplies and actually enjoying it!
In “Angel Town” and “Living in LA,” you touch a bit on your experience in LA. Did Hollywood seem shallow compared to New York?
Every city has its beauty. In Los Angeles, I had to really search for it. I’ve met some of the most incredible people in LA, but with New York being so blatant with its beauty and loudness, I had to be in New York. But, LA wasn’t shallow. I think some people just had different priorities. Maybe I was shallow, because I wasn’t who I wanted to be in LA.
“Angel Town,” is about being at Melrose Trading Post and everyone was just acting the same and so beautiful and I was just this 18 year old.”
Do you miss New Zealand?
“It’s weird! I get nostalgic. Sometimes it just hits me, I’ll see some tulips and think ‘Oh, my dad grows them in his garden. I miss him,’ or I’ll see book that my mom reads at The Strand and I’ll miss her.”
Now that Lorde’s Melodrama World Tour is coming to North America, do you get to see her at all?
“Yeah! I’m seeing her concert [soon] with a bunch of my friends! I’ve seen her perform at Coachella and I’ve seen her sing a lot of the songs. But, I haven’t seen the whole Melodrama concert, which I’m really excited about.”
What is it like going to these shows like Coachella or the Grammy’s?
” Surreal. It’s bizarre, because I always feel like I belong there! I’m an eccentric person. I love that I could meet some people and ask them questions like John Mayer and Shawn Mendes. It’s not my norm, but I’m at ease at award shows!”
Are there any celebrities you hope to meet some day?
“Look, if I meet Cardi B… I can’t even talk about that! I’d love to meet Sza and Post Malone I think he’s a great lyricist. I love Chance the Rapper and I got to meet him!”
You’re book is so personal. Was it frightening for you to release something so open about your life?
“Initially, I had to stop and say ‘It’s not all about you!’ I took time to do some research. I read books, listened to music, and went to art museums. I probably spent probably four months just researching. I think that helped me. That was probably my biggest fear if people would relate to how specific my book is. But, I knew it had to be that. People have such specific things happening in their life, but the undertones are all the same; heartbreak, being alone, not feeling enough, and anxiety. Those are what I tried to write about because that’s what I experienced.”
As far as writing goes, do you want to stick with poetry? Do you want to get into music or song writing?
“I would love to do music eventually. I’d love to do script-writing. I don’t consider myself a poet, I think it’s just what I wanted to do. I had to write this. It’s just a bonus that people like my work! I think a multi-media career would be great [too].”
In “The Ing” you refer to your sister as “lilac lady.” Where did that nickname come from?
” She performed at the VMA’s. She just danced. It was amazing and I saw her wearing this beautiful purple dress. Ella’s always come to me as a purple person.”
“Penny For Your Sight” is a beautiful poem. Where were you when you wrote it?
” I was in [a cafe]. I was with four or five of my friends at a birthday dinner. I could just feel something in the air around me. Everyone kind of experiences life in their own way, but when you can relate to someone else, there’s such a special aspect in knowing you both share those feelings. It was a special feeling. I knew I was done writing.”
How do you feel now that ‘Sticky Notes’ is finally out?
“Sad! I feel good, but it’s sad! I don’t know what my next project is going to be. I was so consumed with writing it, that I had the excuse to go to the coffee shop and write. It’s amazing to see that people are liking it.”
How long have you been writing this book?
“It took me a bloody long time to write it! About a year-and-a-half, I’ll say. I do want to say that the book is chronological. It’s basically the story of my life.”
You can purchase Sticky Notes by Indy Yelich here.