Marina Diamandis, best known under her stage name, Marina & the Diamonds, has so far existed on the fringes of pop superstardom. The Welsh singer has toured with Katy Perry and Coldplay, and worked with the mega-producer Dr. Luke. Her latest album, Electra Heart, shares a lot of the hallmarks that made Perry’s Teenage Dream an all-out blockbuster: disco beats, fist-pumping synths, soaring vocals, and top-notch production. (It’s no coincidence that Dr. Luke is largely credited with making Perry’s album the smash that it was.) Diamandis stopped by our office the other day to talk about her album, her love of astrology, and finally enjoying her life as a pop star.
You’re here promoting your latest album Electra Heart, and I really want to know who or what is Electra Heart? I’ve heard it’s an alter ego?
It’s not like an imagined persona or a personality. It’s more an album title that embodies female character types. So the visual is based around four character types. The Primadonna, the Homewrecker, Teen Idles and Su-Barbie-A.
The videos you’ve posted on YouTube are labeled Part 1-4. Are fans supposed to view those as one entity?
I had hoped that it would be digested in that way eventually, but I appreciate that a mainstream audience if they just hear a song on the radio might not link it up with the concept. Which is fine with me. It’s all about how people want to see it and accept it. If you want to read into it more and think that it’s about something deeper, you can—but its also something that, like with all pop, can be taken at face value.
It seems like a lot of your exposure is self-made. How much control do you have over your image and art?
Within every job there are certain systems, but compared to other artists I know, I think I have a very high involvement because I have to and need to. Most importantly if I don’t, people won’t connect with it. That’s what I really love about The Archetypes and Electra Heart, but that I still feel like I haven’t explained properly yet. People are starting to get it now. They know that it’s from me. The Archetypes started last April and I’ve just been really slowly posting pictures. A lot of it has to last me a year, basically.
The first “Fear and Loathing” video was posted a year ago.
Yeah, that was August. So let’s say 8 months. People at least know that this is obviously a real person who happens to be in the pop world, and I think many of the great pop artists of our generation are self-made and most feel like the visuals get in the way, and people end saying, She doesn’t write her own songs. I’ve worked with Dr. Luke, and people asked me the other day, Did you even write the song? And I was like, wow!
You were in our first issue in the winter of 2010. How have things changed since then?
I’m actually enjoying my life, which sounds so dramatic, but I didn’t really feel like I was in the moment at all for the whole of the first album. I was so unsatisfied with various things in my life that I didn’t really enjoy it, and now I feel totally different. As an artist, I know myself better and I know when I’m writing how to best get across my message, whereas in the beginning, I wrote the album when I wasn’t signed—I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was just writing.
Are you a Libra?
Wow! You swear you didn’t look up my birthday? Is that a real guess?
That’s a real guess.
I feel kind of flummoxed. I’m really into star signs because they’re so true for so many people.
It’s fun reading about yourself.
And relating it to others. You’re like, That ex-boyfriend I knew was wrong for me! Don’t you think it’s so disabling when you like someone and you tell yourself, Marina don’t go on his Facebook and look at his birthdate because if it’s the wrong…
Like if they’re a Virgo.
Oh my god, my past two boyfriends have been Virgos!
How has that worked out for you?
The whole being a Libra thing really explains the creativity of your album.
Libras are very creative.
Libras aren’t usually involved in only one art. Do you do anything else?
That’s true! Electra Heart is very much like a multimedia project because there’s the photography, the videos, and obviously the music.
Do you have a hand in all of those?
Absolutely. On my first record I learned that I should have done that and trusted my own instincts more, and now I am. It’s turning out really well. All the album artwork is perfect.
People freaked out about the “Primadonna” video and I have to know what the turtle was all about?
In the beginning we were going to put a martini glass on his back but I couldn’t do it. It was too cruel. They actually tried to get it to balance and I just couldn’t do it. It was making me feel really bad inside. The turtle’s name was Roy or something and it belonged to a kid in Copenhagen.
What would your soul animal be?
It feels to easy to say a cat because all women are quite feline. But I think I’d be a Persian cat or a snow leopard. Snow leopard is a little more glamorous. So let’s say snow leopard.