Lana Del Rey was recently interviewed by NME, where she talked about her latest album, America’s failings, forest fires, Donald Trump and being happy. The photoshoot was photographed by Chuck Grant.
Being labelled a ‘sad girl’ isn’t something that really bothers Lana though. “Honestly, now I think it’s funny,” she says, gazing out of the French doors. “I’m not just one thing. I’m not cheerful all the time. But being able to express my sadness sometimes makes me actually more cheerful than some people I know, because I gave myself permission to have a lot of colours.”
Yesterday, Lana Del Rey‘s newest album, ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ was released. However, in a new interview The Times, she revealed she’s already working on her next album which is called ‘White Hot Forever.’
She said: “I’ve already written parts of it. It’s called White Hot Forever. I feel like it probably will be a surprise release sometime within the next 12 or 13 months.” Read the full interview below:
Lana Del Rey and the Chateau Marmont have history. The Los Angeles hotel, where Tinseltown’s rich and famous have partied since 1929, featured in the singer’s first music video. “Singing in the old bars, swinging with the old stars, living for the fame,” an elegant voice sang over grainy footage of the Beverly Hills hotspot, and an instant pop sensation was born.
Eight years after Video Games, that breakout hit, Del Rey drives her shiny black pick-up truck past the place regularly; her management has just set up an office overlooking the hotel, a house nestled in the hills. It’s fitting. Since blasting directly to the top table of pop with that dreamy, devastating debut single, the songwriter has doubled down on those ideals of faded Hollywood glamour and romance across four bestselling albums. Her latest, Norman F***ing Rockwell!, is similarly threaded with tortured tales of doomed love and unavailable men, the sort who would stalk the corridors of the Marmont and drink themselves into oblivion by its pool. Where better for her management to set up shop than in view of the notorious hangout? Del Rey, after all, has created a pop empire singing about the Chateau; the glitz and tragedy it represents and the type of lost souls who once wandered it.
We meet at her management’s new pad on a scorching hot August afternoon. The walls are adorned with platinum records and other emblems of her seismic success: her 3.2 million album sales in the US alone, her glossy magazine covers, her Billboard, MTV, Ivor Novello and Brit awards. Del Rey, 34, is indisputably one of the biggest artists on the planet, a stadium-packing superstar adored by everyone from Adele to Stevie Nicks (with whom she collaborated with on her last album). She has 13.7 million fans following her every move on Instagram and 9.4 million Twitter followers. Her quintessentially Californian sound has made her as synonymous with LA as the Santa Monica pier or Sunset Boulevard. However, these accolades apparently don’t matter much to her.
“It’s not that I don’t care what happens,” she says, curled up on a sofa in the living room, dressed in denim shorts and a black jumper, “but by the time [an album] is done and gone to vinyl, it’s kinda over for me.” The real reward for her is in the writing. “Of course I love when people like my songs, but I get a lot of value from just knowing that I’ve found a special little melody. You know?”
“Special little melodies” are evidently not in short supply for Del Rey. Norman F***ing Rockwell! — named after the American author and painter whom Del Rey has described as “this genius artist [who] thinks he’s the shit and won’t shut up about it” — is her fifth album in seven years, a prolific output for an artist regularly on the road. This record, however, is a little different from the others. There are musical differences, for a start. Working with Jack Antonoff, a close collaborator with Taylor Swift and Lorde, Del Rey has stripped her sound down to bare, folky essentials on songs such as the lead single Venice Bitch, which blossoms from gentle guitar chords into an enveloping eight-minute psychedelic jam (“I wanted it longer. Urgh,” she jokes). It’s the mood of the album that marks the biggest change, however. Del Rey’s music has long been a fantasy of a forgotten America, a Coke-bottle-cool daydream of 1950s cars and young love found on sun-kissed beaches. Recently, though, the doomy state of the world has crept inside that fantasy bubble.
“I’m surprised more people aren’t writing about certain things that are going on,” Del Rey says. This month she released Looking for America, written in response to the back-to-back shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The song pleaded for stricter firearm regulation and proceeds from the track went to charities for victims of gun violence. Elsewhere, she’s been vocal in her support for the Me Too movement, hit out at Kanye West (at whose wedding she performed in 2014) for his support of Donald Trump and claimed to have placed a “witchcraft hex” on the president. (“Why not? Look, I do a lot of shit,” she said at the time.)
On the new album there are allusions to last year’s LA wildfires and West’s politics, and an overall sense of an impending apocalypse. It’s not that she has recently become politicised, Del Rey explains, but more that, in a time of immigrant children in detention centres, when racism is on the rise and white supremacists open fire on shoppers in Walmart, she hit a point where she could no longer remain mute.
“When I go to the movie theatre I always make sure I know where the exits are,” Del Rey says. “We all do. The same with any big parade or Fourth of July event.” Regular Americans, she says, are on edge at practically every public event now, such is the regularity of mass shootings. “I’m not the only one who thinks about it. It’s everybody.” To her there’s no great mystery why. Trump has a “personality problem”, she says, “and it’s hurting people and encouraging violence in the culture. If people think that’s not a coincidence, my opinion is that they’re wrong.” Asked who she would like to see challenge him in 2020, she replies: “I think things will be better with someone more emotionally stable at the helm. So to answer your question: anyone.” A noise follows that’s part-giggle, part-exasperated groan of despair.
Del Rey is confident and intermittently hilarious, cradling a coffee cup, but too busy talking excitedly to take more than an occasional sip. In her music videos and on stage she’s immaculate and otherworldly, gliding about in gowns and big hooped earrings. In real life this supposed “gangster Nancy Sinatra” is endearingly goofy, reciting tales about game nights with friends and how she used to live on Kingsland Road in east London, buying whatever weird stuff she could find at Ridley Road market (“one time I got these contact lenses that made me look like a f***ing lizard”).
She has struck a nervous figure in interviews. Before we start talking she politely lets me know that she is recording our conversation on her phone. This, I suspect, is because in 2014 she was quoted as saying “I wish I was dead” in an interview with The Guardian, and when asked if stars who die young are “glamorous”, she replied: “I don’t know. Ummm, yeah.” The comment earned her a scolding online despite her insistence that the remarks were taken out of context.
Part of her confidence is down to her new home: a secluded spot in northern San Diego. Her work and friends are still in LA, so she drives her pickup truck back and forth every day. “Eighty miles there, eighty miles back,” she says with a grin, and says that those long drives have unlocked new perspectives and creativity for her. “I have a lot of time to think.” What does she think about? Well, there’s a modern retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that she’s writing and composing music for, for one. “It’s more about the story of the author and the real-life Alice back in Cambridge. I have to learn a lot more about it, but the songs are really sweet.”
At other times her mind wanders to her beginnings as an artist, to the whirlwind of fame that threatened to swallow her after Video Games blew up, and experiences that she is now able to identify as tinged with misogyny. “I’ve had to stay pretty intellectual about it,” she says. “The interrogative nature of the way people would approach me was quite intense.”
Del Rey delves into stories of being dismissed by journalists and bombarded with accusations of being inauthentic. The presumption at every turn was that this songwriter, professing her love of James Ellroy novels in interviews, and singing about love, diamonds and Diet Mountain Dew, was somehow being controlled by male music-industry executives, lurking somewhere in the shadows, quietly pulling the strings. When the internet discovered that her real identity was Lizzie Grant, born in Manhattan and raised in Lake Placid by two former advertising industry employees, many classified it angrily as a form of deception rather than good old-fashioned showbiz.
“So many defensive, condescending reactions. Luckily, I always thought, F*** YOU!” she roars, her laughter echoing down the hall. “It said more about them than me. What’s funny is everyone was constantly, like, ‘You’re so eclectic, so different.’ ” She pauses and stares out towards the pool in the yard outside, which glimmers in the sunlight. “But I felt most of the time like I was the most normal one in the room.”
Del Rey’s success has changed that. In 2012 the enormous success of her first big-label album, Born to Die, sparked what critics called a sad-pop revolution. Pop was dominated by saccharine cheer. Del Rey’s unapologetic sadness on that LP and its acclaimed follow-ups, drifting through downtempo songs that luxuriated in melancholy, proved that female expressions of sadness in pop were not only commercially viable for labels, but deeply relatable to a new generation of listeners who had grown up discussing their emotions on platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram.
“There were, like, four pop singers, and I was the weird one,” she says. “Now you see [new artists] and they’re super-weird and all over the place. You have all these mumble rappers being crazy and weird and wearing dresses and everyone is applauding, saying, ‘Good for you for being you!’ That’s really new.”
It cheers her to think that acts such as the 17-year-old phenomenon Billie Eilish, whose moody lyrics touch on depressive feelings in a not dissimilar way to Del Rey’s, might have been able to look at her path to pop supremacy and use it as a blueprint. “She’s so sweet and very prodigious. The culture is catching up to how people really are. People aren’t always cheerful 24/7. They have losses and things they go through things. I like to think I had a part in it, in opening that door for a little bit more . . . thoughtfulness.”
Eight years after blazing to fame, Del Rey says she is happy. Yes, she despairs over the state of the world sometimes and her dating life could be more stable by the sounds of it. “It’s, erm, colourful!” she says with a giggle when I ask, which is all she’s willing to say on the matter (previous partners include Francesco Carrozzini, an Italian photographer, and the Scottish singer-songwriter Barrie-James O’Neill, who performs under the name Nightmare Boy).
On the whole, however, Del Rey seems content and creatively energised. Norman F***ing Rockwell!, she reveals, will be followed by another album. “I’ve already written parts of it,” she says, beaming. “It’s called White Hot Forever. I feel like it probably will be a surprise release sometime within the next 12 or 13 months.” The sun has sunk in the evening sky, painting the Marmont at the bottom of the hill in peachy orange light. “I’m really excited right now. I don’t want to take a break.”
Today, August 29, Lana Del Rey released the music video for her cover of Sublime’s ‘Doin’ Time’ – a track that is also on her upcoming album ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell.’ The video, which was directed by Rich Lee, makes reference to the film Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), as well as the remake with Daryl Hannah in 1993. In some parts, Lana also dons a wig that’s reminiscent of her Lizzy Grant days.
On August 28, Lana Del Rey did a few radio interviews to promote ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ which comes out on August 30. She spoke to Kevin Manno from 104.3 MYfm and Ryan Seacrest for 102.7 KIIS-FM, which you can watch/listen to below:
Candids > 2019 > At 1043 MYfm Radio in Burbank, California, USA (August 28)
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Candids > 2019 > On Air with Ryan Seacrest in Burbank, California, USA (August 28)
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Ahead of the upcoming new album ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’, Lana Del Rey spoke to Billboard about always following her muse, the #MeToo Movement and why she owns being basic.The interview and photographs took place on August 8 2019 at The Beckett Mansion in Los Angeles.
“I’ve got a more eccentric side when it comes to the muse of writing, but I feel very much that writing is not my thing: I’m writing’s thing. When the writing has got me, I’m on its schedule. But when it leaves me alone, I’m just at Starbucks, talking shit all day.”