Lana Del Rey is featured on the cover of Les Inrockuptibles‘s June issue. It features a new photoshoot by an unknown photographer!
Magazine Scans > 2014 > Les Inrockuptibles (June – France) x— 04 Pictures were added —x
Read the full interview below. Translation by Arwena-320!
The fear of not being able to write, doubt, chaos in her life: after Born to die, it wasn’t a good period for Lana Del Rey. But she comes back with the sumptuous and nonchalant Ultraviolence , always haunted by ghosts and misfortune.
After your last album, you said you were retiring from music. But you’re back with Ultraviolence.
I was unsure of finding inspiration back one day. And I can’t do an album without having an idea about the concept or the narration itself. But in December and January, everything has been unblocked after my first met with Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys. It happened something physical between us, something from the chemical order . When we recorded the Brooklyn Baby’s song, we felt there was something going on. The album was realised in an atmosphere very nonchalant. That was really surprising for me since I have worked with the same people and there , I was with that complete unknown man!
How do you feel in front of a white sheet of paper?
Those last years, I have known long periods when I was unable to write. I was always touring and I thought naively I would write on the road but that was impossible. Finally, in December 2013, I spent some weeks in the Electric Lady Studio in New-York , while I was recording alone my whole album with Blake Stranathan ( her regular guitarist) and a session drummer . My model of sound was the Eagles! At that moment, I met Dan and he said what I made sounds to ” classic-rock ” and then we redid everything in Nashville, in 6 weeks and most of the time live.
The Eagles ‘s influence stays evident on Pretty when you cry. You’re gonna bring back the slow and make it trending!
Nobody does slows any more, I would love to retry, it’s been so long. I love to dance. While the Nashville sessions, at the end of the day, we listened again the work we’ve done and we were dancing like crazy people. Dan made his coming from Brooklyn , we invited people we met on a local shop, Juliette Lewis or Harmonie Korine were around too: I have never worked this way before. It was also the first I met such creative people in studios, the first I open doors too. I am now able keep myself isolate from people around me in the studio when I am experimenting without chains: there is a huge universe inside my mind where I can go shelter. I may not be lucky everyday in my personal life but in my studio life, I am varnished: I am always surrounded by the good persons. The simple fact that a man Like Dan get interested by me did a lot for my self-esteem and my good mood.
How went your relationship in studio?
Dan is versatile: he can be very quiet a day and then very excited. But between us we had a lot of fun. He is a true passionate person, with strict dogmas : he refuses to do some things categorically. That made us brought closer. At the beginning, my album and the Black Keys ‘s one were supposed to be released the same day. After 4 weeks of recording for mine, he was so implied that he began to imagine my album was his and it also influenced his work with his band – he has redone some tracks he didn’t find them up to par! He loves my album, he called me very late at night just for saying : << I don’t know if I am going insane but I feel we’re doing a super disc!>> .
Did you sum up your desire with words before recording?
There it was “fire”. Dan is rather technic, concrete contrary to me , I ma in the imaginary. With him, I used all my own vocabulary to make understand what I wanted to do. I was saying for example that I wanted my album to evoke the flames, but the blue ones, the hottest… I was talking to him of electric blue with red reflects.
What did he changed to your songs?
Me, in a song, I only like the drums and the guitars and he arrived with a double bass player, a saxophonist and some old steel-guitar pro… He loves musicians, he’s a real man, surrounded by 7 guys who are his best-friends, a true alpha-male ! (she laughs) It didn’t bother me : I love men, I had very good moments. Since I am in the music, I only go around with people who are in a band and most of the time they are men. I can become very hoyden in that conditions.
And when you are in studios, do behave like a geek?
Yes, mainly while mixing. I spent 4 weeks in Santa-Monica with Robert Orton [one of the producer]. Because we recorded live in Nashville, on an old console Neve , we had to digitalized everything and it sounded like messy , every instruments were overlapping. We had to restructure, reprocess , we went from spontaneity to meticulously . In studio, I know exactly what I want to hear. Even if it takes weeks, I also end up by hearing the music I had in mind. The same for my videos: everything are there, in my story-boards. Suddenly I can make the executive producer going completely crazy as I may have done with Dan.
In you work where are your part of pleasure and your part of pain?
Pleasure begins with the conception of the album and ends with its recording. I don’t leave the mixing console until the reset of the tapes, that’s a great sadness. Then arrive the tours painful or the promotion , hard… I feel force to justify , to defend myself though I don’t feel the necessity to do it: my music is good enough for not needing that. I would prefer to keep silence.
Your songs give a strange mix between sadness and wealth, a bit like Roy Orbison…
That’s true! (she sings a bit of Only the lonely). I have the impression to make joyful songs but when I made people listening to them, they tell how sad they are… I can’t escape my life which had been enough tumultuous. I keep on being plagued by doubt, by sadness. I only have blurring and emptiness ahead of me and I hate not knowing where I am going. In my sentimental life, in my homely family, I don’t any sureness… I have now a house in California, where I take care of my sister and my brother but I can’t really talk about a home… When I come back, it’s impossible for me to be readjust to real life… This is why I hate not being able to write because for 10 years writing has been the only stable and soothing element in my life.
What gave Ultraviolence’ s tone?
The first song of the album, Cruel world determined everything. Geographically, it puts the album: Dan’s guitar meets immediately California. There is in the beginning of the text a certain “épure”, a simplicity. And then arrives the chorus with its big drums and electric disorder… This cohabitation between normality and chaos is very symbolic of what I had gone through my life.
The album reminds the nonchalant atmosphere form the sixties and the seventies in Los Angeles, especially the community of musicians settled in Laurel Canyon…
I am very fond of that mythology, Joni Mitchell mainly because loved by my mother. When I lived in New-York, I was looking for that kind of community spirit: a bit like Jeff Buckley succeed in federating people around him in the nineties or like Dylan in the sixties…. But I never found my gang, my family. When I arrived in Los Angeles, I finally met people with whom to talk and play, musicians that have updated Laurel Canyon, as Father Misty Jones or Jonathan Wilson , with who I had begun to do the album… All I was looking for in New-York , I found it suddenly in the West Coast. I drove a house to another one, in my old Mercedes, I had the impression of going back to high-school.
You have grown up in the countryside. Were you already solitary?
I had a very gang of girlfriends, inseparable , we were very similar. That was the first time -and the last- I felt such togetherness. But at 14 , I was sent to boarding school , because we were doing bullshit as making out with older boys or running away for going to parties… And there, I found myself going up to 3 times a week to Church. Luckily, there were stained glasses, I could dream by watching them. In that school, I sympathized with one of the teachers – he was 22 ; I had 15 – and he made me discovering Jeff Buckley, 2Pac or Allen Ginsberg, he became my best-friend. When I came back to New-York at 19 , I tried to find back that lost friendship with people of my age but it was too late , they were all obsessed with their careers , their social successes… I was wondering where were the musicians ready to sacrifice everything , ready to die for their songs.
And you, you were never attracted by that achievement?
I have read a book about that subject: of the necessity for an artists to burn each bridges of every carer possibilities . During years, my life was in my brain, nobody knew nothing about it. It was almost like a double life. For a very long time, nobody else than my room-mate heard my songs. I played very badly guitar , in picking (she sings it). The first time I heard Catpower, it really reassured me because she was also playing simply at her beginnings, very simply. But there was a really spell, music felt on me, literally. Whole songs already made were rushing in my pen and on my notebook. At 20, while nothing happened I took the decision to keep on by hook or by cook , to answer that call. It sounds strangely but I was very fan of music, I have never told my parents I skipped classes, they knew after I was singing. I try to fight against music, I was terrified by the look of the people << who does she think she is?>> I was sure we would thought I didn’t deserve it. Many musicians confessed that they felt discomfort to me. The music is something very personal so we are really afraid of being rejected… Besides, I could have just been a chorister.
At what moment did you feel you were right to keep on hooking up?
When recording Born to die. I will never forget my father’s visit at the studio. He had no idea of what I have been doing while 6 years and he didn’t come back of seeing me so sure, directive and fulfilling , asking the producer to play a beat or a symphony… He was in shock, he felt my music was really my passion and he said to me it was one of the most beautiful day of his life. My parents had insisted for not dropping studies to music – I finished my Philosophy studies, I knew it would feed my songs. I had told them very early I wanted to become a singer but they didn’t know how much I was inhabited and serious. My mother was wondering what I was doing in New-York. When my father saw me, he understood ! And it kinda validated 6 years working.
Do you believe in gift , in inspiration?
More for than anything else in my life, I feel a gift for music. But that last years, with that very long periods during the ones I hadn’t writing a single that pleased me, I was praying for my muse to come back… And then last winter, Old money came in a block. Carmen went to me as I was walking down the streets, I had put the rhymes on my steps (she sings). At that time, I used to walk very much, it help me to write. Now, I drive, I go swimming in the Pacific. Inspiration come back with these new rituals, I record myself in my car.
Your music is often like haunted by ghosts and spirits…
If I would talk by myself , people would think I am completely crazy. But it is true. Life has been so hard with me those last 4 years that I looked for some reassurance in beyond… Before recording or going on stage, I was asking to ghosts to come to help me or to accompanied me. I had to face so much the analytical mind of people that I find refuge in the spiritual. I feel deeply connected to a kind of mysticism , I always look for the spirits’s company. I have always thought to death , it obsesses me since my childhood. When I understood what it was, that my parents won’t b there forever , I had an a hysterical crisis and they had to make a doctor come. I remind one day , my father was bringing me to do some shopping for the back to school and I told him : << What’s the point on buying new clothes since we’re all going to die?>> I had chosen to study the Philosophy field and I got passionate by Metaphysics, to try to answer those questions, to ask myself about my presence on Earth, to wave science to that reflection. 10 months, I went through a very hard period and I went visiting Fleur , one of the most known American mediums . She confirmed that many things were haunting. Her assistant made me wrote secretly, questions I wanted to ask to Fleur : << Am I done for this world? Am I supposed to be on Earth? >> I would have been too embarrassed to ask anybody but on another hand I felt completely disconnected from music and my peers. She answered me quickly: << Why are you looking for escape? Plant your feet on the ground and say yourself you were born here and today with a good reason. Look for comfort in the sand, the earth and the water…>> And it was at that time I began to reconnect with the fundamentals of the planet, to walk on the beach or to go to swim. She knew a lot of things about me, about my grandmother , on the jewels she demised me , on my brother for 3 years and whom I take care and on his setbacks or his passage in a specialized institute… It really shaken me because I told nobody and it reassures me in the existence of a beyond.
Many of your icons are ghosts too: Eliott Smith, Jeff Buckley , Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain…
The people I admire seems to be destined to die… Luckily, Leonard Cohen shows the contrary. I don’t like that romanticism around their prematured deaths. Artists are more useful alive than dead.
You mention Lou Reed in Brooklyn Baby…
I dreamt of sharing the sing with him , I thought lyrics could amused him ( my boyfriend’s in a band, he plays guitar while I sing Lou Reed). The day I touched down in New-York for making him listening to the song, he was dead [Lou Reed died the 27th October 2013].
Can you explain the lyrics of Fucked my way on the top ?
Here is a song that won’t be played on the radio… It started with a 2 minutes orchestral workpiece that Dan heat sent me , it inspired me and I began to sing that words on it…. When it became more serious, I called him to say I loved his melody , she had turned into a song and I hope he would forgive me for the lyrics (laughs)… In a general way, the orchestral side is less present than on Born To Die, there are cords only on some songs – synthetic ones. I have considered to to do it without completely. Everybody has asked why I wanted to end Ultraviolence by a cover of The other woman by Nina Simone. Because she says everything, because I love jazz and may be because it could a door for what could be the next album. I could have signed those lyrics… I have listened to another of Nina Simone’s cover Lilac Wine by Jeff Buckley… (she sings) It reminds my apprenticeship of life in New-York.