Welsh pop singer Marina Diamandis — who performs under the name Marina & the Diamonds — isn't afraid to go for it. For her 2012 concept album, Electra Heart, she fully adopted the larger-than-life, pop-star alter ego of Electra, blonde wigs and all. On her new record, Diamandis — who spoke to City Paper back in March — is as smart and sexy as ever, but takes a less-extreme approach. It feels, she says, "closer to the sound that I've always imagined for myself."
Your new record, Froot, has a much different vibe than Electra Heart. What were you going for?
The last one was very electronic, it has much more of a commercial sound. The mindset with this one was quite different. It's very calm and was done quite slowly, and by myself, completed with one guy. It's completely black-and-white from Electra Heart, actually. In terms of sound, I made the decision early on that I wanted to have a live drummer and live guitar and bass.
I've heard that when you took on the Electra persona people really treated you differently.
It was more in terms of meeting [press] who perhaps hadn't heard about me or my first album. They kind of took me as I was. Which I found kind of hilarious. I mean, the whole point was to masquerade as kind a generic pop star, but they actually thought I was that. My general feeling was that it was assumed that I wasn't a creative person, and that I didn't create my own music, because I was singing a certain type of music. It's actually enjoyable doing interviews [now] because I'm discussing things that are relevant and appropriate as opposed to just bullshit. [As a pop star], the general level of intellect in the questions is completely lowered.
- Photo courtesy of Charlotte Rutherford
- Just another diamond day: Marina & the Diamonds
Did that affect the way that you felt about yourself, or were you able to separate yourself from the character?
No, I wasn't able to separate that. I think it was really quite hard, looking back. But at the time you just try and get through it because you've created this thing, and you almost have to try and keep up appearances. So it was completely my own doing [laughs]. But it makes me appreciate things much more now, and the ease and effortless feel of Froot is definitely not taken for granted.
So this has been a more satisfying experience?
Yeah, I think it's more satisfying. With Electra Heart, the reason that I indulged so much in visuals and creating this external story was because I felt like, through the production, I wasn't getting as much say. I was working with producers who were, obviously, extremely talented but who had that sound already. So they kind of put their sound on you when really, it should have been the other way around.