Exclusive: Marina & The Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend
Marina Lambrini Diamandis, commonly known under her moniker Marina and the Diamonds, is one of the coolest femmes of the music industry. The 29 year-old UK songbird is cool in the sense that she’s hip without manifesting that “you can’t sit with us” vibe that some talented singer-songwriters exude. It’s 3PM on a Saturday and Marina looks as though she just walked off a runway (in the most charming pair of Mary Benson pumps) instead of the frenetic atmosphere of SXSW showcases. Her hair is effortlessly wavy thanks to the ATX humidity and her porcelain doll face is aglow with excitement over the impending festival season. After her blitz at Coachella and Governor’s Ball, Marina will head out on a fall tour in support of her recently released third album, FROOT.
The new album has certainly proved to be quite fruitful with multiple tracks charting in the Top 5 on iTunes (“Forget” reached #1). Much of that success can be attributed to Marina’s potent voice range accompanied with heartfelt, candid lyrics that are relatable to an extensive audience. Marina says with a smirk on her face, “Frankly speaking, the reason that I write is not to be a singer, performer, or any of that shit. It’s more like I need to write as a way of processing things. That’s the way its’ always been even before I was signed or even thought I could do this on a professional level. It’s a very natural way of processing things.” Here, Milk Made chats with Marina about FROOT, style, and the power of prose.
I had a chance to check out FROOT and what I really admire is the fact that you do the actual songwriting. You’re very honest throughout the album. The song that touched me the most was “Forget.” What’s your perspective of that song? What did it mean to you?
Well that one isn’t – for me anyway – about forgetting a relationship. It’s more about the kind of events in your life coming to a certain moment and feeling like, “I just want to move away and start again.” It’s about letting go in all kinds of forms – whatever that means to you. It’s very hard to let go. The mind is the hardest thing to change and train.
It is! Sometimes your mind is like, ‘I need to let go of this,” but your heart wants you to hold on and vice versa.
Absolutely. So, it’s always that balance of being pragmatic and being emotional, thinking with your heart.
It’s definitely a struggle. Taking a break from the album though, how have you been enjoying SXSW? Any crazy experiences?
I’d say it’s been a little bit stressful. Last night, we had technical issues and went on an hour late. That cut my set in half basically. The show in the day was good. The day before when we got here, half of my band went with me because my bassist broke his hand and my guitarist – his visa didn’t come through. So we were like, “Shit.” We did the show though anyway.
The show must go on!
Yeah, it literally went on. It was good. I haven’t played for five years, so I was very pleased to come back.
Wow. Five years? That’s really exciting.
Yep, five years since I started out. It’s really cool.
Okay, so I hope I don’t sound superficial but let’s talk about your clothes. How did you come across this particular designer?
It’s not superficial at all! It all matters. This designer is called Mary Benson. She’s only done one collection. She’s very young. She just graduated. My stylist just pulled loads of her stuff. I’m so glad because at the moment I’ve been referencing loads of ‘70s stuff – doing it in a very modernized way. So, I basically borrowed everything for this American trip.
What are some of your influences?
So, my main influences are women. I love Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple, Madonna, and No Doubt. So those are the ones that kind of inspired me the most. The Distillers and Dresden Dolls. That was like between 15 years-old and 20 years-old – my foundation music. So, artists that were quite uncompromising and had a very interesting voice. Those are the ones that I kind of always go back to who inspired me originally.
And that makes so much sense. This also makes me think of another set of lyrics of yours on “Froot.” They are as follows: ‘I’ve seen seasons come and go/From winter sun to summer snow/ This ain’t my first time at the rodeo.’ It really encompasses the self-expressive tone of the album. What place were you at emotionally for this track?
I was at a point in my life where I felt like…I think I was just assessing and I had just digested what happened since becoming an artist. So, it’s reflecting where you’re at in your life in that lyric. It’s like, ‘I’ve done this before. I’ve had a wide range of experiences. I’m ready to go again.’ I suppose it’s sort of reflecting on a feeling. I hate the word “reflective,” but it is a reflective album.
I get that vibe from it too. Is there a song on the album that especially strikes you more than the others when you perform it or hear it?
I haven’t performed this one yet, but I really love “Savages.” But, “Forget” as well.
That’s mine! Some artists are like, “Oh, the lyrics can mean whatever the listener wants it to mean.” I like to get the vantage point of the artist because you’re the one that wrote it.
Yeah, I’m always curious. You can always adopt your own meaning in terms of whatever is happening in your life – which is brilliant – but I always like to see why the artist wrote it.
Very cool. Now what would you say has been one of your favorite highlights of your career thus far?
Building and cultivating quite a niche fanbase. I’m between pop world and alternative world. It’s been interesting to see the demographic and type of fans that I’ve been lucky enough to attract. So, I think that’s actually been the main thing—having a really solid, loyal fanbase. That’s the coolest thing.
Download Marina and the Diamond’s new album, Froot, here
Event photography by Koury Angelo