Armin Lizama is 19 years old. He is a recent high school graduate who lives in Mérida, Mexico. Just another teen in Yucatán’s capital city, he also counts 20-year-old New Zealand pop star Lorde, among his (long-distance) personal friends.
Lizama, of course, refers to the singer by her real name, Ella — her full name is Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor — and says she gives great advice. “I get to talk to her and ask her questions, not only about music but [also] personal struggles, like relationships and stuff,” Lizama told The Verge in a phone call. “She’s super nice and cool.”
They met because of @LordeDaily, a Twitter account he’s run since September 2013, the same month Lorde’s debut album was released. The account has amassed 30,000 followers, including publications like Pitchfork and Variety, record industry professionals such as Pure Heroine producer Joel Little and Republic Records, as well as Lorde herself. And, for some reason, Justin Bieber.
thank you @lordemusic pic.twitter.com/Lh2gWKtiTk
— armin (@urlbadman) July 15, 2014
Lorde followed the account in October 2013, just weeks after it launched. Lizama sent her a direct message on Twitter shortly after. He thinks the reason his account is so popular is because people know he has easy access to her. “Whenever there was a question about a video or a photoshoot or some lyrics or something, I would ask her,” he says. “For example, some of my friends in the US were waiting outside the venue for her at a show, and I told her so she could go outside. I even got to help this girl go to a concert of hers because she couldn’t get a ticket. Ella was like, ‘Okay, just come in, we’ll sneak you in.’” Lizama has become a figure in the fan community, not as towering as Lorde herself, but widely known as as a way to rapidly cut down one’s degrees of separation.
nails have seen better days tbh
— Lorde (@lorde) June 15, 2017
“When I first discovered her,” he explains, “she was so hypnotic, quirky, and strange, and so cool that I fell in love with her attitude. When I started to learn more about her, I saw that we were just both teenagers and had the same experiences.” She invited him to a concert in Mexico City as her personal guest in the summer of 2014, and though she had to fly to Las Vegas immediately after the show for what became an infamous performance with Nirvana, she FaceTimed him a few weeks later.
“She said it was the least she could do [after] leaving so abruptly and not getting to say hi to me at the show,” Lizama remembers. “She complimented my eyebrows.”
Lizama is part of an active community of Lorde fan account operators, and he says they organized in a group chat when her long-awaited single “Green Light” — the first new solo song she’d released since The Hunger Games “Yellow Flicker Beat” in September 2014 — so they could decide on hashtags and promotion strategies: “We tried to finally get some people organized to support our girl.”
#3YearsOfPureHeroine 3 years since the album of my life came out. I will always love you @lorde no metter what happens. xoxo
— alex.:*• (@al3tonolli) September 27, 2016
The group also organized an online streaming party in September 2016, on the third anniversary of Pure Heroine. This party was different than those organized by other fandoms to boost streaming counts in hopes of bumping songs up the Billboard charts. It was more explicitly about celebrating an album that had dropped off the charts long ago. “We just stream it on Spotify or Apple Music and we tweet about it, we tweet our favorite lyrics. [Lorde] actually went through the hashtag of the listening party and favorited a few tweets. She was lurking on our accounts.”
As something of a 24/7 volunteer publicist, Lizama does everything from his iPhone, and he does it whenever there’s news. “When ‘Green Light’ came out, I was in school and I had to ask to go to the bathroom to hear the song. I didn’t even think about it, that’s kind of what I do.”
His process for aggregating news about Lorde is pretty straightforward. @LordeDaily started back when Lorde was just springing onto the international music scene, and at the time, there weren’t any huge fan accounts. “I used to go on Instagram and go into the Lorde tag to find new pictures from photoshoots or whatever. When I posted them on Twitter, I became a fan account, because other fan accounts started to follow me.”