“As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all. Becoming friends with Lena – without her preaching to me, but just seeing why she believes what she believes, why she says what she says, why she stands for what she stands for – has made me realise that I’ve been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.”
I ask if tabloid scrutiny over her lyrics (and the string of famous exes they allude to), has dissuaded her from pursuing what rock critic Robert Christgau calls her “diaristic realism”, or the clues she famously leaves in her liner notes. No, she says, because it’s that sense of reading a journal that “has always connected me to my fans in this very intense way”. Nonetheless, she concedes that “it’s an interesting tightrope walk to write autobiographical songs in an age where mystery is completely out the window”.