For a young woman at the centre of an Internet storm, Lana Del Rey (aka Lizzy Grant) seems to have remarkable composure. Certainly not many of us would be able to keep as cool a head if confronted with a few months that have seen her gone from feted to despised (read Jim Carroll’s excellent take on the subject here) as those who at first championed her turned when they discovered she was not quite as new an artist as they believed her to be. The initial attention, however, came thanks to her brilliant ‘Video Games’ track – proof, we suggest, of the power that a single song can still wield…
“It’s hard to believe that’s just what it is”, she agrees while talking to State last week, “but it seems to be the case. I don’t really know why people like even like that song in particular because I had so many like it before, but it’s really interesting that one track can get that much attention”.
Was that lack of recognition annoying?
“It was for a while but I started singing in New York when I was 17 or 18, so I got over the frustration early and then was just living my life. Then people started coming to this song. There are very few instruments, I think it’s quite unusual. I was putting out good music before but there’s something about this one that’s special. I like ‘Blue Jeans’ too and I like the next single, so I’m excited”.
Was this the kind of music you were always making?
“There has been some progression but it’s in the same style that I started with. I’m interesting in lacing the tracks with a cinematic feel and they always have a darker undertone. In a funny way everything has got a bit simpler but I’ve stayed true to my melodic sensibility”.
That cinematic feel is certainly evident in the video…
“If I had thought that more people were going to watch it I would have planned it a bit better. I was doing what I could with what I had at the time but I’m interested in the golden era, when times were good and things were new. It was the American Dream. The world was starting to evolve. For me the overall message feels hopeful, despite the odd darker clip in there”.
How do the modern clips of skateboarders fit in?
“That was simple choice. I’m not a good skateboarder but when we were in the city I always thought it was cute when my friends would rock up on their boards. It made life seem a lot less complicated so I like that image juxtaposed with a vision of the Hollywood Hills. It’s the American Dream versus being young and not having any real ambition”.
What music did you have around you growing up?
“I didn’t listen to that much music until I was older. Me and my friends would listen to Eminem, while my dad would play James Taylor and the Beach Boys. When I was 18 I discovered the cooler stuff, like Nirvana and Frank Sinatra….the masters of different genres. They’re stylistically different but in terms of genius they’re right on par. I never stopped listening to Nirvana once I found them. In terms of finding brilliant melodies, Kurt was great at that but he was embarrassed by it”.
Does the notion of credibility embarrass you personally?
“It is strange to me because I never thought something like that would come up. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the music, in terms of me being credible it shouldn’t really matter. Do the melodies speak for themselves, does the story remind you of something? If it does then good, if not pass on. In terms of being credible, I did everything myself. I only signed a record deal four weeks ago”.
So what’s the problem?
“I don’t know. I released my fucking record in 2010 under “Lana Del Ray”. By the way, it’s not a different person, it’s just a name thing. I wanted to be in a band but I couldn’t find one so I picked an exotic name”.
Are we talking a Badly Drawn Boy, Lady Gaga, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly situation then?
“Exactly. I wasn’t exactly looking to transform into another person, but hey if I was that should be OK. I was just searching for a more exotic persona”.
Is Lana Del Rey a character for Lizzy Grant?
“No, it’s not a character project. The more I think about it, I hope that it will all become apparent as the rest of the record is released. People will see how strong the music actually is. I don’t feel like I’m personally in a different place onstage, but I wish I did. It would be a release. I find it hard to leave my own headspace because I’m an over thinker”.
Would it be better to have an alter ego to hide behind?
“Yeah, rather than thinking I made bad personal musical choices. I don’t know….(she pauses)….the whole thing’s been a little strange…”
‘Video Games’ / ‘Blue Jeans’ is out on Friday.