It’s been a rather interesting couple of weeks for Lana Del Rey, beginning with the rather robust online debate over her “Saturday Night Live” performance, and then the subsequent fallout following that performance, in which everyone from “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams to comedian Whitney Cummings weighed in, voicing both derision and support for the singer.
Not surprisingly, Del Rey would prefer to put the matter behind her and focus instead on her upcoming major-label debut, Born to Die (due January 31). As she told MTV News, the album represents her attempt to “re-create myself in song form,” a majestic, maudlin collection of dramatic torch songs that recalls everything from Thomas Newman’s “American Beauty” score to “[Bruce] Springsteen’s summertime sadness.”
“Sonically, I always knew exactly what I wanted,” Del Rey said. “That’s really the only thing I do know. The rest of it was sort of up in the air. I’ve been a writer for a really long time, and a sort of bad composer, but a composer nonetheless. It was something I did alone for some time and then became a collaborative effort as I met better and better people.”
Those people include Brit Justin Parker, who composed much of the music on the album, Philadelphia legend Larry Gold, who’s arranged strings for the likes of Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake, and producer Emile Haynie, best known for tracks by Kanye West and Eminem. Del Rey calls them “her crew,” and they helped shape her ideas into an album that mixes both the light with the dark, the sadness with the sweetness.
“Justin started lacing the tracks with melancholic chords, brought out the bittersweetness that I wanted, and Emile kind of kept it really dark and f—ed up with his heavy beats, and Larry kept it soaring and gorgeous with his strings,” Del Rey explained. “Everyone knew the direction I was going in, and it was very much a collaborative effort.”
And of course, though she’s been suffering the slings and arrows of her critics following her “SNL” performance, Del Rey is most definitely planning on spending the next few weeks promoting Born to Die with a spate of TV appearances. And she’s also making plans for a full-blown tour tentatively scheduled for October — one that she’s already making special arrangements for. And given the past few weeks, perhaps that’s a good idea.
“I’m capping every venue at 900 [capacity], because I don’t want to perform for more [people] than that,” she said. “So what I want to do is do three nights in New York, at like Irving Plaza, and then three nights at the El Rey in L.A., and then, in between, do 15 cities, and cap it at 900 venues. And everybody [at her label, Interscope] is onboard, so that’s what we’re going to do.”