Lana Del Rey’s new single ‘Chemtrails Over the Country Club’ premiered on BBC Radio 1’s Future Sound with Annie Mac, where Lana gave an interview, on January 11, 2021.
Below is a rough summary of the interview, but please click here to listen to the full conversation on BBC Radio 1.
At the start of the interview, Lana laughed at the surrealism of the moment as she saw her reflection: she had just woken up, she has a broken arm, a popsicle for breakfast and her cat Niko is there. “It’s just one of those mornings, I hope I’m on my game for Annie.”
Lana revealed that she broke her elbow while rollerblading during the filming of her music video for ‘White Dress,’ which will be her next single. “We were in Joshua Tree, the desert, a couple hours away, and I just wanted to relive this cool moment in my life where everything was fun, rollerblading to work, [laughs] and it was fun. And I think I hurt myself then too [laughs]. So not much has changed I guess.”
Annie asked Lana if she knew what this album wanted to be. “This is probably the first album where I would say I knew what I wanted it to be, but I didn’t know if I got there. Norman, I knew. I wrote a couple songs, the title track, and also a song called ‘Love Song’ and I was like ‘I know what my album is, I know where I’m going. I think with this album, it feels very much like when you’re reaching in a relationship, when you’re beckoning it, you’re like ‘Oh I just want it so bad.’ I felt very much like that with ‘Chemtrails’ but not so much with the title track. I feel like the title track and then songs like ‘White Dress’ are really really good.” She went on to say she wanted more from her and Jack and this is the first time where she doesn’t have 4 songs that she loves to make up the beginning of her next album.
Annie stated that as an artist you have to push yourself as a person, which Lana agreed with, adding that it’s hard when you’re writing your own music too. “I think some people are obsessed with growing and learning, and I’m more just trying to find where I’m happiest, but for me I think it’s just very tricky because you put out there that you’re putting out a record and you get such mixed feedback.” “Like what?” Annie asked. “Like don’t,” Lana laughs. She anticipates what the controversy is going to be this time, but just wishes people would focus on her music.
Annie said that there is a sense of Lana pre-empting criticism when announcing her album on Instagram when it should just be this really wonderful thing. “Before I even put the album cover up, I knew what people were gonna say. And when they actually started saying things, I responded and I just said, you know, I got a lot of issues but inclusivity ain’t one of them. It just isn’t. You can’t just make it my problem. My friends, my family, whatever, they’re not all one way and we’re not the ones storming the Capitol. We voted for Biden. My girlfriends come from all over the world. I’m mentioning this to the people listening because people really wanted even more People of Colour on my album, which, you know, it just kind of is, a photo just sometimes is what it is. That was the issue that was coming up, but I said that half of the people in this photo are People of Colour. I don’t want to be discouraged because I actually am representing a certain thing, but people will say that I’m not. It’s like being in opposite world.” Lana added that the people on the cover of her album are her closest friends.”
Annie asked about music producer Jack Antonoff, who Lana made ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ with, and she revealed that he also worked on ‘Chemtrails’ apart from the track ‘Yosemite’ which she did with her songwriting-producing partner, Rick Nowles. “Jack is great for so many reasons, mostly because he’s just so darn funny. And also because sometimes he’ll just be noodling around on the piano and he’ll come up with some extremely insane riff and you’ll be like, ‘does that belong to anybody?’ and if he says no, it means you get to freestyle some great cool chorus over it, which happened about twice probably on this album. And then most of the other songs I think I just brought to him, I’d say even partially or completely. Just on the iPhone.”
As with most guests on the show, Annie asked Lana how she has coped with 2020. In response, Lana said: “I mean I always thought something like this would happen much sooner. From a total, like… first of all, pandemic wise I always wondered how, with what 8 billion people in the world, this had not happened sooner. When they got rid of the contagious disease sector of the white house I was like ‘we’ll never make it.’ So that was one, because I’m like a bit of a fatalist, you know [laughs] I’m like scared. So I thought ‘well something’s definitely gonna happen there.’
And then, also, what I’m saying again about in terms of that wider picture of the government that you see on TV or whatever, you know, being a reflection of what’s going on in our homes. I was not surprised that the second epidemic that came out of the pandemic was household violence and general upset. It’s like 911 calls going up like 350% in every state. People had to look at themselves and live with themselves with just probably television that wasn’t live like to cope. I’m way ahead on the train of coping. I’m like prepared for a pandemic because I’m crazy. [laughs] I got a shelter, I got my meds, right? I’ve got my girlfriends that like totally get it. And you know I’m realistic.
You know, I think the madness of Trump, as bad as it was, it really needed to happen. I mean we really needed a reflection of our world’s greatest problem which is not climate change, it’s the problem of sociopathy and narcissism, especially in America. It’s going to kill the world. It’s not capitalism, it’s narcissism. And I wrote a very tiny but pretty book called ‘Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass’ an I had a little poem in there that’s called ‘My bedroom is a sacred place now there are children at the foot of my bed’ and it’s all about because I got a crazy person out of my bedroom. I was just surprised we didn’t have sort of a live-television psychopath crazy person as a president a long time ago because that’s what we see on TV, and that’s what we see on Instagram, and a lot of really self obsessed influencers etc. Not to say there’s not some really cute, great, happy-go-lucky influencers who have taught me many things about crockpots and Target hauls and all the things that have totally cheered up my life.
I think it was actually, minus our terrifying death toll, a huge wake up call. Your life is not about what kind of shoes you buy. It’s not about going to Oxford or Harvard. It’s about what kind of person you are. And if you’re an arsehole and everyone tells you that you are and you have no idea that you’re a jerk, it’s like now we have to finally address this big issue in the world: what do we do with people who don’t know that they’re hurting other people? Do we put them on an island together? I once had an novelty call with George K. Simon who wrote a book called ‘A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ and it was all about people who didn’t know they hurt other people. Like Trump. He doesn’t know that he’s inciting a riot. I believe that.”
Annie said she thought it was “very very clearly obvious that [Trump] knew what he was doing the whole way,” but Lana explained that he has “delusions of grandeur” [a hallmark symptom of narcissistic personality disorder], which Annie understood. Lana continued, saying “I think this is actually the most important thing I’ll say in this interview: I think, for the people who stormed the Capitol, it’s disassociated rage. They want to wild out somewhere. We don’t know how to find a way to be wild in our world and at the same time our world is so wild.”
Annie said, “There’s a line in your song about that isn’t there? About not being unhinged or unhappy, but wild, is that the word that you use?”
“Yeah that’s the thing, in my title track that you played, I’m not unhinged, I’m just strange and wild. If I go to the Brentwood Country Mart barefoot or whatever, I’m not insane; I’m connected to the earth. I think people are having to re-evaluate what they think is strange and not strange. Like watching the people storm the Capitol, everyone gets to go look at that and figure out what Capitols they’ve been storming this year in their own freakin’ lives… because everyone’s running amok. You know, half the people I know are just jerks. Like I could picture them being like, ‘Well, we need a change.’ And then other half of the people I know are like watching them with tears in their eyes, in disbelief. And it is sad, it is scary. But it could happen in any country.”
Annie says things are “very polarised, it feels very extreme, one way, the other way, black, white, good, evil with a lack of nuance that’s very important,” which Lana agreed with, adding “sane and insane” as another example.
Annie asked if Lana feels a sense of relief that all of these things we’ve been dreading and catastrophising and finally realising that we’re not mad in thinking they could happen. Lana said: “The world is an insane place, relationships are very very hard. Like ‘welcome to real life, you can be a very happy, beautiful, thoughtful person in the midst of chaos.’ You know, for me, it’s not hard to be good in the midst of the bad, it’s like all my money from my books I donated to different Native American charities. It’s my freakin’ pleasure. Anyone who calls me upset feeling a little nervous that day, a little off in their relationship, it’s my pleasure to take that phone call, or to make that phone call, but I just think that there’s… Yes, I feel a relief but I want people to understand that I didn’t want to be that jerk in 2019 when they were like ’20/20 clearer vision,’ I wanted to be like ‘oh you don’t get it yet do you? This is not over, this is beginning’. I head it said well by an anchor on CNN at some point: are these the dying cries of an old regime, or are they the birth pains of a brand new division in the country of chaos? I’m pretty sure it’s that one. I think people are gonna be super pissed at the new ultra democratic wing, but ultimately the important thing with any of these situations is that people are just clearer about what’s going on and now what I think some of the higher ups and the people who are thinking can really see is ‘Ok. So we’ve got a problem now. We didn’t know that we had half of the country who wants to shoot up the Capitol. We didn’t really know that because we never got to see it. I think this gave us an opportunity to see where our level of mental health is at and our level of dissociated rage.”