Hi Lana, how are you? Hi I’m good how are you?
Very well. What have you been up to today? Today I’m in London, we had a photoshoot about an hour ago. Germany is launching their version of Interview Magazine so we had a ten page spread for that. That’s what I did today.
You’ve had a pretty crazy year – what has been the most surreal moment? I’ve been singing for a long time and working on a record that I wanted to put out for the last year and a half but I’ve never really been busy with music. My life has been about the other things I’ve been doing for the last six years outside of music. So it is surreal in a way to have things to talk about which involve music. It’s kind of been different for me.
What are those other life things? Like I moved to New York when I was 18 and I’ve been involved in the community there for a long time. I’ve lived in the Bronx, and in Brooklyn and New Jersey and I’ve just been involved in a lot of service work since I moved there.
Oh so actual life shit. OK. So you played on Jools Holland this year, were you nervous going into such an iconic music show? Well at that point I hadn’t been on the stage for two or three years and I guess live television isn’t my specialty. I’m a natural writer, I’ve really enjoyed writing since I was a kid and I also like to sing and make records in the studio but being on TV is kinda scary for me. It’s nice to be part of something iconic but I can’t say it was in my comfort zone, I’m not an exhibitionist by nature.
So how do you approach live performances if you’re not an exhibitionist by nature? I mean, my audiences are amazing. I get up on stage and before I even get to the microphone people are waving and smiling at me. So that’s made the live show more comfortable for me. I’ve been working with a band for the last five months and they’re four boys that I really love and that helps too. It’s been a pleasure actually.
What can you tell us about the new album, what vibes are you channeling? I’ve been working on it for a while and it will be released in late January. I’ve been working with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Larry Gold has been composing string sections for some of the songs I’ve written so that adds a lush cinematic element to some of the tracks. I’ve also been working with Emile Haynie (The Roots, Kanye West, Lil Wayne) for the last year and a half and he’s been putting beats and samples underneath the tracks I’ve already done with Justin Parker (Video Games co-writer). I think Video Games and Blue Jeans definitely set the tone for the record. I don’t know if there’s a definitive vibe but it’s consistently autobiographical and I think most of the songs verge on dark and beautiful. I mean, when I make a record I’m not really going for a big show stopping sound. I’ve been singing for so long now that you just end up writing for yourself and making it as personal as possible.
Where’s the usual starting point for you when you write a song? I used to just walk the length of Manhattan and think about the way things used to be and sing different melodies to my song as I was walking along the water. Now that I’ve been working with producers, it depends. Sometimes Justin will come into the studio and tell me he has a chord progression that reminds him of me. And if I like it I’ll take it from there and start freestyling and just rhyme things out. Again, reflecting on my life. It really does depend on the situation.
Considering the year you’ve had, have many people approached you to collaborate? Some people have approached me for collaborations but it’s not really something that I’m ready for or interested in yet. I work with Emile because I know him and he understands what I’m doing, he’s been familiar with my sound for a while and he doesn’t want to make it different. He just so happens to work in hip hop but it was more that he knew me as a person and could add the right things to enhance the core of what I was doing. So no, no collaborations really.
What was the catalyst for “Lana Del Ray” the person? People think that it’s a massive transition that I’ve made but I started singing under that name when I was 19, so seven years ago. I don’t really consider it a shift in persona and I do believe in becoming the person you want to be but as it happens I was already that person. It’s not like I was one person and then I transformed into something else. I was just looking for a name that embodied the spirit of the music I was making and that sounded beautiful off the tongue.
Film seems like a big influence on you, what part does it play in your daily life? I do really like editing. The way I feel about editing now is the way I used to feel about music, which is passionate. I enjoy it. In terms of actually being involved in film that’s the full extent of what I know how to do.
Why don’t you feel equally as passionate about music anymore? I do feel passionate about music it’s just that I’ve been a singer for a really long time now. In a way music hasn’t been my priority since I was 20 and I’ve had a big life outside of music doing other different things.
What was the last thing you did outside of music? One thing I did was work with my favourite video director Yoann Lemoine for the “Born To Die” video. I made it in Paris three weeks ago and I wrote the treatment and he helped me with it and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time, work with someone like him. That was really the last thing I wanted to do because I already work with the people I like.
Something that’s really unique to you is constantly having to defend your authenticity. I mean, I think If you were a man it wouldn’t even be part of the conversation. What do you make of it? Yeah I agree. All I can say is that I write my own songs, I make my videos and it’s not as though I’ve not done something and said that I have. In terms of the definition of “authentic”, I write music and that’s it. It’s not like someone’s penning all my songs or making my videos behind the scenes. If that were true I think those people would have stepped up and exposed me by now. I mean, I know the true nature of my journey and I write my own stuff so what else can I really say?
But you out of anybody must have thought critically about why authenticity matters to people… I’m not really sure yet. It’s still new and I’m still trying to figure it out.
It’s so weird to even have to think about your own authenticity. It’s like you’re in high school again. I mean it’s a good question. I don’t know if there’s an answer for it. It’s kind of the question. Regardless of what the answer is, the truth is that I’ve been a singer for a long time and this is honestly where my path has taken me so far.
Thanks for you time Lana. Thank you.