MUSIC: MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS INTERVIEW (FAULT MAGAZINE SUMMER ISSUE 2012)
Marina explains why she’s anything but a Primadonna girl.
Right now, at this very moment, on iPods, radios and computers all over the country, the opening strains of the newest single by Marina and the Diamonds can be heard: “… Primadonna girl, yeah, all I ever wanted was the world, I can’t help that I need it all…” It’s fresh, it’s fun, it’s irresistibly catchy – it’s ‘Primadonna’ – and as the latest offering from the UK’s most interesting female pop star (together with a bubblegum-pink new image), it’s the perfect track to herald Marina’s much eagerly awaited second studio album, Electra Heart.
Born in Abergavenny, Wales, Marina Diamandis – the ‘Diamonds’ in the stage name refer to her fans – first rose to fame in 2010 with her critically acclaimed debut album, The Family Jewels, which was lauded for its ‘quirky’ themes and sonically ambitious collection of songs. Since, she has well and truly established herself as member of pop’s current pantheon, having broken America, supported Katy Perry on her California Dreams tour and picked up a few awards along the way.
Commence Round Two. Cut with an addictive electronic edge, sweetened with Marina’s crystal-toned vocals and faultlessly produced by industry giants like Diplo, Dr Luke and Stargate, Electra Heart is a record that clearly demonstrates an artist taking the next step. Despite the pressure of putting together what is for many artists the nefarious second album, Marina is confident that Electra Heart will more than live up to her debut.
“It’s a lot more decisive about its identity as a record. The Family Jewels was really about me experimenting with different sounds, and my voice; I was very much a beginner. So, it’s nice to have a record that actually feels like the sound is coherent throughout. The song writing is more mature as well.”
Electra Heart is, essentially, an album about love. Citing the painful end of a relationship as its key inspiration, Marina relates, “I almost wanted to create the opposite of a break-up album – I wanted the [Electra Heart] character to be like the Antichrist of Love”. She pauses, her tone suddenly serious. “Because I was really hurt by someone, I wanted to subconsciously reverse my situation, and writing songs like ‘Homewrecker’ did that for me. I know it’s a bit cringe to say, but it was empowering. I also wanted to explore ‘Electra Heart’ as a character type that plays with the female ego – ‘Primadonna ‘ and ‘Teen Idle are undesirable character types that we know and recognise, so I set them in relation to what was going on in my life, or my love-life, at least’.”
However, there has been some media backlash against the album, with critics dismissing its creator for bowing to current pop influences, rather than staying true to the unusual crafting of songs and lyrics that first made her so intriguing. And admittedly – the occasional solemn ballad like ‘Lies’ or ‘Starring Role’ aside – on first listen of such distinctly dancefloor-friendly pop tracks as ‘Bubblegum Bitch’ (“Got a figure like a pin-up, got a figure like a doll, don’t care if you think I’m dumb”), you could be forgiven for buying into the spoilt, Ke$ha-esque diva image that much of the album appears to perpetuate, yet supposedly subverts.
This is especially true when Marina’s new image is taken into account. Gone are the natural dark tresses and sweetly nude face of The Family Jewels, and in their place a peroxide blonde ‘50s siren, complete with a red-lipsticked pout and spiky synthetic lashes. Is this really an ingenious aesthetic satire, or evidence of a once-kooky indie singer gone mainstream?
“That’s the initial response I always get… ‘Oh God, Marina’s totally changed, she’s a sell-out’. I think every woman – and man – has the capacity to be a bitch, or really weak, or manipulative; everyone has those facets to their characters. [The album] is about playing with undesirable character types; pop music is all about projecting what you want people to think of you, but Electra Heart is the opposite. I’m perpetrating this artificial, fake look, but that’s the whole point – challenging people. ”
So the new image isn’t just reinvention for reinvention’s sake? After all, she certainly wouldn’t be the first – it seems like you can’t open a magazine these days without tripping over pictures of Gaga’s ‘outrageous’ new outfit, or Katy Perry’s ‘crazy’ new hair colour.
“Definitely not. I look like this because I wanted to evoke an image of someone who personifies love – it’s a grown-up, bubblegum pop and ultra-feminine style. I like playing with the idea of innocence, and exploiting that very Middle American image of the squeaky clean housewife; it’s fun. I just don’t think the songs would have made as much sense with me singing as brunette Marina from The Family Jewels.”
Continuing her effort to play to the Electra Heart type (“Being desperate and lonely and depressed!”), Marina will imminently be taking to the road on her mammoth Lonely Hearts Club Tour, playing live dates across the UK and America.
“I thought it would be fun to create a tour where it actually doesn’t matter if you turn up on your own”, she says, chuckling. Does that mean she’s hoping to bring a few lonely hearts in the crowd together in the process? “Maybe! That would be amazing! The style is very much ‘High School Prom’ – all the band are dressed in ruffle shirts, and the actual stage is designed like a ‘70s motel. There’s a pink velvet chaise longue, and a TV… I’m really excited about it.”
So, with such a slew of promotion, live dates – which include a pretty impressive gig supporting Coldplay on their stadium world tour – and video shoots set to occupy Marina for the next eighteen months, what can her Diamonds expect to see from her in the future?
“At the end of the day, I would like to be a good artist, and be remembered as being a good artist.” Not a primadonna, living ‘the primadonna life’? A laugh, then, “I haven’t done anything massively diva-ish yet… but you know what? There’s always time!“
Written by Charlotte McManus
Posted on 24/08/2012, in Music and tagged bubblegum bitch, charlotte mcmanus, coldplay, electra heart, fault magazine, marina and the diamonds, marina diamandis, music interview, primadonna girl, the family jewels. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.