Updated on: April 9th, 2016
Lana Del Rey was born by the name of Elizabeth Woolridge Grant on June 21, 1986 in New York City but grew up in Lake Placid, a quiet village outside of New York State, USA.
Aged 15, she was sent to a boarding school in Connecticut and before moving to New York City, when she was 18 she studied metaphysics at Fordham University – “that was when my musical experience began. I kind of found people for myself,” she told Vogue.
She would hit bars in Lake Placid and began performing in clubs to showcase her talent in singing under various names, including her birth name Lizzy Grant, as well as Sparkle Rope Jump Queen and Lizzy Grant and the Phenomena and some others. She chose her currently stage name as she wanted something that reflected her style – old Hollywood glamour and “I wanted a name I could shape the music toward. I was going to Miami quite a lot at the time, speaking a lot of Spanish with my friends from Cuba – Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue.”
“I was always singing, but didn’t plan on pursuing it seriously,” she told Vogue. “When I got to New York City when I was 18, I started playing in clubs in Brooklyn – I have good friends and devoted fans on the underground scene, but we were playing for each other at that point – and that was it.”
Around 20, she moved back to NYC and signed a record contract for $10,000 with an indie label and moved into a trailer park outside of the city. The album she recorded back then was later shelved and the recording house went out of business, causing her to shift her focus. Instead, she began to work in community service. “Homeless outreach, drug and alcohol rehabilitation – that’s been my life for the past five years,” – she told Vogue in 2012.
“The way I experienced New York, for a long time after I moved, was alone and at night, walking the streets. I mean, there are thousands of streets in New York and I know them all. I’d go down to the tip of Manhattan, or even down to Coney Island, then travel all the way back up. Because I come from a place that, geographically, isn’t that stimulating. But New York’s architecture alone is enough to inspire a whole album. In fact, that’s what happened at first – my early stuff was mostly just interpretations of landscapes,” she said in an interview how the big city inspired her.
Lana was so determined that she went to record labels in London to show them a piece of her music but none of them were interested in her style. However, she released an EP called “Kill Kill” in 2008 under the name of Lizzy Grant and then a full-length studio album in January 2010 as Lana Del Ray a.k.a. Lizzy Grant, under 5 Points Records.
In 2011, she decided to rebrand herself as Lana Del Rey and uploaded her performance of the song “Video Games” that was written together with her old friend and composer, Justin Parker. The response to this single was so amazing that made her signed a record deal with Interscope Records and Polydor in October 2011. “Video Games” accumulated in excess of 20 million YouTube views in its first 5 months of upload and won a Q Award and the Pitchfork’s Best New Song and was also featured on the tv series, “Ringer”. She began the promotional period with appearances and performances in several TV shows. After that she started mulling over the idea of making another full-length album, which would be her first wide release.
On January 4, 2012, it was reported that Lana Del Rey had signed a deal with “NEXT Model Management Agency”. And her debut album “Born to Die” was released in January 31, 2012 and it charted at number one on the Official UK Album Chart. She has described her unique look – auburn hair in Veronica Lake waves, full lips and permanently artistic talons – as “Gangster Nancy Sinatra” and “Lolita got lost in the hood”.
Later on, the Swedish multinational retail-clothing company, H&M confirmed that Lana would be the face of the label and record a cover version of the popular 1950s prom anthem “Blue Velvet” for their 2012 Autumn Campaign. H&M’s 2012 Winter campaign, featuring Lana Del Rey, was released on October 12, 2012. On August 22, 2012, executives announced that Lana Del Rey would endorse their new Jaguar F-Type which was unveiled by Lana at the Paris Motor Show in September 2012. In the meantime, she kept appearing on the cover of several famous magazines such as NME, Vogue, Glamour, Interview, etc; and joined the line-up of many music festivals around the globe as well as gave some individual concerts.
During 2013, Lana Del Rey did the “Paradise Tour” that took place in many countries including from North and South America, Europe, Australia and Middle East. She also launched a few music videos, “Burning Desire”, “Chelsea Hotel no. 2”, “Young & Beautiful” and “Summer Wine” featuring her boyfriend, Barrie James O’Neill, and covered magazines like, Madame Figaro, Vogue China, Numéro Tokyo, L’Officiel, Fashion Magazine and Nylon.
Lana Del Rey also won a 2013 BRIT Award in the category of “International Female Solo Act” and two ECHO awards for “Best International Rock/Pop Artist” and “Best International Newcomer”.
On November 22, 2013, the official trailer for Lana’s first short film, “Tropico“ was released; and it was announced that the film would be uploaded to Lana Del Rey’s official VEVO account on December 5, 2013 and a public premiere would take place on December 4, 2013 at Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California, prior to its VEVO release. On the premiere day, Lana Del Rey announced to the audience the title of her 2014 upcoming third studio album and explained what she meant when she said that the film is a “farewell”, stating: “I really just wanted us all to be together so I could try and visually close out my chapter[s] before I release the new record, “Ultraviolence”.”
Still on December 2013, Lana Del Rey was nominated for the 56th Grammy Awards and the 19th Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and indicated for the 86th Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
On January 23, 2014, it was announced that Angelina Jolie had chosen Lana Del Rey to cover the song “Once Upon a Dream” (from the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty) for the 2014 dark fantasy film ‘Maleficent’.
On February 20, 2014, Lana Del Rey posted a picture of herself and Dan Auerbach on Twitter with the caption “Me and Dan Auerbach are excited to present you Ultraviolence” and so it was rumoured that the two of them were working together at Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound recording studio in Nashville, Tennessee in January and he was said to be producing her upcoming album.
In March, Rufus Wainwright revealed in an interview that he was currently working with Lana. And the first single of Ultraviolence, “West Coast”, was released on April 14, 2014.
On May 23, 2014, Lana Del Rey performed three songs at Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s pre-wedding celebration at the Palace of Versailles in Paris, France.
“Shades of Cool”, the second single, was released on May 26, 2014. The third single and title track, “Ultraviolence”, was released on June 4. June 8 saw the release of the fourth single, “Brooklyn Baby”. And Ultraviolence was released on June 13, 2014, and debuted at number one in twelve countries, including the United States and United Kingdom. The album sold 880,000 copies in its first week, worldwide. Lana Del Rey described her third studio album as being “more stripped down but still cinematic and dark.”
A Rolling Stone article revealed that Lana would be a guest on Brian Wilson’s forthcoming studio album No Pier Pressure. Two new songs by Lana Del Rey, “Big Eyes” and “I Can Fly”, were featured in Tim Burton’s 2014 biographical film Big Eyes, which focuses on the American artist Margaret Keane. “Big Eyes” was co-written by Daniel Heath, while “I Can Fly” was co-written by Rick Nowels.
On December 1, 2014 Lana announced she would be headlining a tour in Summer 2015 called “Endless Summer Tour”. Eight of the shows had Courtney Love as support act. Later she also said to Galore Magazine that she has begun working on a new album.
“I played Mark Ronson ten songs that I have composed for this next album. It explores a sound close to the golden age of jazz.” Earlier that month Lana also mentioned to Galore Magazine that she is already at the recording stage for the album. “I’m also always writing small pieces for independent films etc. Dan Heath and Rick Nowels are two of my dearest friends and producers and we are always up to something.” – she said in an interview to Grazie Magazine on how to introduce orchestrations with monumental choruses with a touch of subdued grunge on the album.
Later, Lana Del Rey confirmed in an interview with Billboard that her 4th record would be entitled ‘Honeymoon’.
Between August and November of 2015, Lana launched her first four singles from ‘Honeymoon’: ‘High By The Beach‘ on August 10, ‘Terrence Loves You‘ on August 21, ‘Honeymoon‘ on September 7 and ‘Music To Watch The Boys To‘ on September 11. And on September 18, her most recent album was officially out.
On August 28, 2015, the Weeknd’s album called ‘Beauty Behind the Madness‘ was released, together with his duet ‘Prisoner’ featuring Lana Del Rey.
To promote the release of ‘Honeymoon’, Lana was featured in several famous magazines such as V Magazine, Interview, Les Inrockuptibles, Billboard, Marfa Journal, and attended two signing sessions for fans, one at Rough Trade in London, UK, and another at Urban Outfitters in New York City, USA.
On October 25, 2015, Lana Del Rey won ‘Best Alternative’ at the 2015 MTV European Music Awards in Milan, Italy. And later on November 11, 2015, it was the release of ‘Hi, How Are You?’ short film with the cover of ‘Some Things Last A Long Time’ by Lana.
Between covering more magazines from attending huge events, on February 9, 2016 Lana Del Rey released her latest single, “Freak” featuring Father John Misty and her sister Chuck Grant.
On March 19, 2016, it was reported that Lana Del Rey was back on studio and working on her upcoming fifth album.
For the summer of 2016, Lana Del Rey has a few European and American music festivals scheduled already.