Lorde Sees Ghosts of Sets Past


Courtesy of Creative Commons

Anna Downs, Entertainment Editor

Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival is a two-day music festival curated by Tyler the Creator and held at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. The headliner for Nov. 11, the second day of the festival, was Kids See Ghosts, a duo of Kanye West and Kid Cudi. Kids See Ghosts, also known as KSG, brought a large following to the festival because it was their first time performing live together, since the initial debut of their first, self-titled album in June.

But the issue with the performance was the duo appeared in a clear rectangular elevated box, similar to one the artist Lorde used in previous performances.

On Nov. 12,  Lorde shared backlash of the similarities between set designs for Lorde’s Melodrama tour, as well as her 2017 Coachella performance, compared to Kids See Ghosts’ debut performance at Camp Flog Gnaw.  On her Instagram story, Lorde posted a collection of photos of her live performances dating back to her tour in March and the initial debut of her stage design at Coachella in 2017 (ironically that evening she performed “Runaway” by Kanye West). Lorde broke her silence on social media. She previously was distant and erased most posts from all of her social media platforms since the end of her Melodrama tour in May 2018.

Lorde ended the 5 photo story post with this statement:

“I’m proud of the work I do and it’s flattering when other artists feel inspired by it, to the extent that they choose to try it on themselves. But don’t steal — not from women or anyone else — not in 2018 or ever.”  

Variety reached out to West to see if Kids See Ghosts rented Lorde’s stage set, but the response from West’s representative was that he believed West had the stage built for the festival.

Kids See Ghosts worked with Trask House to achieve the look with the stage design for their performance. John McGuire, the owner of Trask House, said in an email that Lorde, “wasn’t the first person to use a floating glass box, she won’t be the last. She doesn’t own it, her designer didn’t invent it.”

McGuire also said “Cubes and floating aren’t new to Kanye West, stage design or architecture. A quick google of floating glass box brings up many instances of suspended glass cubes.”

McGuire’s statement sheds light on an even earlier variation of an elevated clear box designed by Es Delvin that was used in the National English Opera in 2007. Delvin did work with Lorde to achieve her set design in more recent years. Delvin shared a statement in an Instagram post stating that he is not associated with the Kids See Ghosts stage design, but is also not taking sides within the speculation of comparison between the two artists.

“I did not design the recent Kids See Ghosts performance: I worked with Lorde on the design for her Coachella performance : I admire both and see no imitation at work here: I think the more interesting point is that both artists, responding to our dis-jointed times, are being drawn to this gesture of the fragile floating room: the world un-moored from gravity: where the rules of civilization and identity as we have known them may soon no longer apply,” said Delvin.

Music lovers and fans may not care about the similarities, but it has definitely struck a nerve with Lorde.