Lana Del Rey
On Her Past, Present & Future…
June 2010
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman

“You might recognise Lana Del Rey already... perhaps from an old movie somewhere, but look closer and you might not. Lana Del Rey is a young singer weaving cinematic dark pop for the 21st Century – music wrapped in smoky, sultry and glamorous overtones. Born in the rural town of Lake Placid, New York, Lana then relocated to a series of places: Alabama, New Jersey and New York City, but now spends most of her time in London. No matter where in the world Lana is, her love of film noir, Italian landscapes, big churches, roller coasters and the memory of faded stars like Bette Davis, Kurt Cobain, Nina Simone and Elvis are the chorus line for her music, and her love of New York is her heartbeat.” OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

“Lizzy Grant’s lyrical connotations are at once sexy and sinister, while her vocal delivery carries a slinky, determined innocence straight from the trailer park, supported by throwback grooves evocative of Nancy Sinatra, with a jazz attitude. Her visual messages are dangerously alluring. You won’t be able to leave her songs without assigning your own personal meaning.” THE SMUDGE


Hawaiian, glam and surf noir, are just a few of the labels that Lana Del Rey (real name Lizzy Grant) has used to encapsulate her delectable, hypnotising and nostalgic songs, that are impeccable in both composition and performance! Called the “unofficial sweetheart of rock and roll” by one journalist, in late 2008 she released her debut EP, Kill Kill, followed by her self-titled debut LP in February 2009 on the NYC based label, 5 Points Records, exclusively through iTunes in the USA – both of which were produced by David Kahne (Paul McCartney, The Strokes, Regina Spektor). And with music, vocals and lyrics that are a match made in heaven, the record sounds “black and white, famous, like Coney Island and like a sad party,” as Lana poetically put it.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, when quizzed about her infatuation with Coney Island, Lana – who at one time lived in a New Jersey trailer park – replied: “All the good stuff is real but isn’t, myself included. Coney Island is a place people go to escape, but whatever you choose to be your reality is your reality. So, in a way it’s just as real as anything else. I mainly let my imagination be my reality. Fantasy is my reality. I never saw Coney Island when it had all its big attractions, but there was something desperate about the boardwalk, and I related. There was no end in sight to it, and there were people in bars you didn’t know were there. Maybe the amusement park was the touchstone because I have such a history with cheap thrills. I like things that go fast, things with bright colors, things that taste good. At Coney Island, you can get a Coca-Cola, ride the roller coaster and watch everybody.”

Of her other inspirations, the songstress declared: “Mark Ryden’s pictures drive me crazy, and Vegas makes me shine. Daytona and the Jersey Shore just kill me. Yes. Even pictures of other performers do it for me. I knew Elvis’ songs would be the soundtrack to my life as soon as I laid eyes on his photograph. I know when I love something as soon as I see it. Then, I write about it. Speaking of Elvis, it’s unfair not to mention The Beach Boys and The Flamingos as my other constant companions.”

With smouldering good looks and a sumptuous voice / sound that will dig into your soul – which should soon see her catapulted into stardom – it’s time you sampled the delights of Lana Del Rey and got to know her a little bit better, as she’s truly an artist to fall in love with who harks back to music’s golden age…

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1. For music fans who may not yet know much about you, could you give us some background information on your musical past / tell us about when your love of music first began?
“Well, I was the cantor in my church choir when I was younger and I was in choirs all throughout highschool. I didn't listen to much popular music when I grew up but I did watch a lot of movies, and I was always writing music. When I got into highschool I listened to a lot of rap and techno and eventually found different types of music that I loved like elvis and van halen. My teacher in highschool Mr. Campbell, taught me who all the greats were in every genre and eventually I came to know what good music was.”

2. Was it a conscious decision to be a solo artist, and where does your stage name Lana Del Rey come from / why did you choose to use this instead of your real name?
“No. I wanted to be a band but the label I was with and the team I had around me absolutely wanted me to be a solo artist. Lana Del Rey came from a series of managers and lawyers over the last 5 years who wanted a name that they thought better fit the sound of the music. My music was always kind of cinematic so they wanted a name that reflected the glamour of the sound.”

3.Turning old-school for a moment, if you were to make a Mixtape for me, including one of your own songs, what would you put on there + title the compilation?

“It would be called 'Sex on Ice' and I'd probably put Gangsters Paradise on there… 2.Flamingos 'I Only Have Eyes For You'
3.Britney Spears 'Hit Me Baby One More Time'
4.The Godfather Theme
5.Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra 'Some Velvet Morning'
6.Lana Del Rey 'Hey Lolita Hey'
7. Scarface Theme
8.Ennio Morricone 'Once Upon A Time In The West'
9. Mickey Avalon 'So Rich So Pretty'”

4.Why do you think you are so drawn to vintage ‘50s / ‘60s America?

“I don't know if I'm drawn to 50s music, but I'm drawn to the quality of the recordings just as I'm drawn to the quality of the way movies were filmed in that era. There's a feeling of lasting integrity and beauty in most of the 50s music, but I suppose what mostly draws me to that musical era is that there were good singers. Today, anyone can be a singer, but back then, you had to have something special, a shining personality, whether it be good or bad.”

5. At the moment, you’re currently based in London, when and why did you decide to relocate here?
“I relocated to London because there were a lot of writers and producers who wanted to work with me. I've written in L.A. and New York, but because what I'm doing is darker and more classic then most American Pop, London is the right place for me to be. They don't expect me to dumb anything down here. They're all about the smart.”

6.When did you first realise that you had such a special voice / how do you take care of it, and is it important to you to keep pushing yourself vocally?
“Vocally I never did anything to take care of myself. I'm on the run, I'm always screaming and I eat tons of chocolate and milk, so I shouldn't be able to sing the way I do. Thanks for saying I have SUCH a special voice.”

7.What was the first instrument that you ever owned, and is there anything that you always play when trying-out a new instrument before buying it, or any chords that never fail to fill you with inspiration?
“Other than a kazoo I guess the first instrument was a guitar. If I'm looking at a new guitar to buy, I just play one of my songs I've written. But I'm shitty at the guitar so I don't find that much I can do that inspires me musically. I'd rather have Frank try it out for me and play a Van Halen Riff or something.”

8.Do you adhere to any rules when writing and recording, in terms of how a track will sound musically, melodically or rhythmically + is there anyone whose opinions on your songs you value greatly?
“Um, I go back and forth sometimes, I'm like Maria Callas, and sometimes I'm like Bob Dylan. Dylan is a 3 take man. I can usually do exactly what I wanna in 3 takes. But sometimes I like to take a long time and piece a lot of different takes together like Maria, especially if I'm working in some kind of operatic bridge.”

9.If you could ask a musical hero anything, who would it be and what would you ask them?
“I would ask Elvis if he would kiss me.”

10.Does writing lyrics come naturally to you and is there much revision involved or do you trust your initial instinct + can you tell us about your homemade videos, as for me, visually and thematically, they seem to have been sparked off from your lyrics?
“Yeah writing comes naturally to me, I spend most of my time writing and lately I edit everything because I'm working with so many writers. But my first record, even though it took years to write, was very instinctual. Yess indeed I can tell you about my homemade videos, writing songs first ~ movies next, but the songs first come from memories I have. So then I go online and try to find footage that is the equivalent to my life experience. It's usually super 8 footage that you can tell means a lot to whoever it belongs to. I like to take it, make it mine and mix it with footage from my own actual past. I love making movies, it's my passion. I like it as much as I like singing. The editing is the part that makes the movie special, the timing of the scene changes and use of brief flashes of light or scenery.”

11.As you like metal and because your songs are much softer than this musical genre, from all of the artists / bands that you admire, what are some of your favourite noisy and gentle tracks?
“Um, well Nirvana is my first love. I was in love with kurt and the band as soon as I heard them. In terms of softer songs I like, the flamingos, a beautiful doo wop band who sounds like heaven.”

12.You’re currently in the studio working on your new album, so will this be a continuation or an evolution from your debut long player?
“Well at this point, I've written so many songs that I don't know if I'm regressing or evolving. But I do the same thing I've always done ~ I write about what I know and I try and find the most beautiful melodies I can.”

13.I read that you “live in your songs,” so what does it mean to you to play your songs live and have there been many memorable shows for you to date?
“I do live in my songs, and so I love singing them at shows or at home alone. The shows all just blend into the rest of my life since I sing all day long. But they are always memorable since I have so many weird and sexy people who come to say hello. It's always a freak show and I enjoy every show.”

14.If you had to go shopping for someone and buy a record, a book and a film – what would they be and why?

“I would buy the same things for anyone. I think everyone should have the book "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. The movie "Don't Look Back" by D.A. Pennebaker, and for a record, I would get "Agnus Dei" composed by Samuel Barbe.”

15.Lastly, chips or cream buns?

“I would truthfully do both. I'm an American girl and I'm the junk food queen. I still have a banana split almost every morning and I have french fries for dinner. I have the same tastes that I did when I was a little girl.”

A very special thanks to Lana and to Ben @ SSB, for all of their time and help.

“Let me put on a show for you”

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?