Disarming and charming: two qualities that can be instantly attributed to the Welsh accent coming across the line. This particular accent belongs to UK pop sensation Marina Lambrini Diamandis, or as she is more commonly known to the public, Marina and the Diamonds.
Behind her sophomore record Electra Heart, Marina continues to build a following based on a sassy personality that is indicative in her music. It’s evident when speaking with Marina that this cheeky persona is no hoax but rather an inherent part of her character. Lively and unassuming, perhaps it’s these irresistible quirks that led to Marina and the Diamonds being chosen as a supporting act for rock giants Coldplay on their current European tour.
When Music Feeds caught up with Marina, the Coldplay tour had just passed through Porto, Portugal. Based on this photograph and Marina testimony, the show was surely an unforgettable night.
“It was amazing, but it absolutely pissed it down like never before, but it was really incredible”, Marina assures.
“It’s a nice challenge…because the thing is, I haven’t really performed in torrential rain before… So I just used the umbrella as my prop; I was Gene Kelly for a minute, you know, it was great.”
As one might presume, the motivations for supporting an act the calibre of Coldplay would be varied. Somewhat surprisingly, however, is Marina’s claim that the opportunity to attract new fans isn’t one of them.
“Maybe that’s a response to what record labels might expect and they think just because you’re on tour with a big name, you’re going to become a big name”, Marina suggests.
“But as fatalistic and depressing as I am, I like to think of the reality, which is that you might gain fans, and to be honest, I probably will because I think the record is starting to…connect around Europe. But for me personally, the one reason I was so thrilled to do this was because I really want to improve as a performer and to watch Coldplay and see what they do, so it’s more of a learning experience for me.”
The record in question is the aforementioned second LP Electra Heart, a twelve to sixteen track pop album, depending on which edition you encounter. Marina was bizarrely encouraged by her team to limit the number of songs to eleven as it was considered a ‘cleaner’ number.
“It was actually my manager, God bless him. I think they thought it was a purer kind of representation”, Marina laughs.
“And you know what they wanted me to cut? ‘Teen-f’ing-Idle’, which is like one of the favourite tracks now. So it just kind of goes to show sometimes your artistic instincts are right, and that’s what should be heard.”
In spite of such an odd suggestion, Marina maintains that her label isn’t out to reshape her natural state or transform her identity.
“I don’t think anyone like a label wants to create some kind of ‘fakeoid’ boring plastic campaign. So I think they are on your side for the main part, and especially in my experience because I was signed to an indie, a subsidiary of Atlantic, there’s only like two people in it. So my team is really small, it’s only like three or four people and I’m super with it”, Marina explains.
“But you know, just as with any job, you kind of, you know sometimes you have an idea and it clashes with other people’s (ideas) and it’s hard to explain why you want things a certain way. So it’s alright, I’m pretty happy actually with my experience so far.”
One of Marina’s ideas that led to her increasing success is the lead single Primadonna. A song that seemingly celebrates a superficial and elitist lifestyle, Primadonna is actually a dry self-deprecating take on how people may perceive the young starlet.
“I think it’s making light of my ambitions. It’s weird because it’s like, while we kind of look at pop stars, I feel like the best ones are ones who are interesting and smart but also people who like to have fun. I don’t think you should take your ambitions too seriously”, Marina poses.
“Whereas the first album I felt kind of really heavy about things, so with this one, it’s like it’s just much more exciting for some reason and I feel like Primadonna.”
“Obviously I’m not like that in real life but… I feel like every girl can be a brat, especially when you’re kind of connecting that to love and the idea of wanting to be everything to somebody in a relationship.”
Chart-friendly pop is often dismissed based on its appearance: hooks and choruses readily taken out of context and inserted into movie scenes or invoked as overarching anthems based on a snippet or two. Sometimes this is the goal of manufactured music, crafted with the intent of cross-marketing. But on the other hand, a chart-friendly pop song choked full of irony and written with sincerity such as Primadonna may be misconstrued and falsely portrayed as an ambassador of the very behaviour that it’s ridiculing.
“Well, perversely that’s what excites me actually, because I think the response I’ve had to the album so far is that the kind of serious British press did not get the irony at all, but then I attracted a lot of new fans that probably did take it at…well not at face value, but people who have been listening to me for a long time were like, ‘Everyone’s going to think she’s actually like this’, but I don’t care.”
“A song is a song as far as I’m concerned and I like poking fun. I think that’s kind of what I’m inspired by, whatever I see in everyday life. So I don’t think it actually matters how you take it, I think the song’s good and that’s the only thing at the end of the day really.”
“I think as long as the public understands, that’s all you need because they’re the ones who are going to come see and you and be fans of you. So I guess that’s my only wish, really.”
Electra Heart by Marina and the Diamonds – out now
Watch: Marina and the Diamonds – Primadonna
Listen: Marina and the Diamonds – Teen Idle