Lana Del Rey - Grazia (France) - July 2017
A rough translation of the Grazia interview, which was originally translated in French so a few things might have been lost in the process.
Interviewer: When did you start working on this new album [Lust For Life]?
Lana Del Rey: The day I finished the last one, Honeymoon. It must have been in August, two years ago. I was happy I had recorded an album which has more rock vibes, Ultraviolence, and then one with more blues, one which is sadder, Honeymoon. I felt like I needed to go back to the 60’s and the 70’s, with more pop inclinations. I thought about the Shangri-Las, their harmonies, their playful spirit. Then, after achieving the three quarters of the record, I also felt like doing something more folk, deeper in my heart. I had Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark in mind. Eventually, I listened to a lot of the Beatles and that’s why I asked Sean Lennon (Yoko and John Lennon’s only son) to sing with me. This is why this album, unlike the others, had more shifts and switches.
Int: You change perspective, points of view?
LDR: Exactly. I grow up with my records, I feel a shift inside and I try to do a chronicle of it. Earlier today, I was listening to one of my tracks, Beautiful People, and words like “blood” or “planet” struck me: I had never used them before. I feel like I’m seeing things with more distance, without completely detaching myself from it. I’m happy about that.
talk about Joni Mitchell. What do you borrow from her?
LDR: Her way of telling stories. How she expresses her inwardness and the dialogues she has with herself. I like the fact that she was a painter but she couldn’t help but become a musician. And then, I love the region of Laurel Canyon. With my friends, Jonathan Wilson and Father John Misty, we established a true musical community, sort of like the one Joni and her friends had.
Int: Honeymoon was a bit cathartic. It ended with a cover of Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, like the full stop of something. Was there a new beginning after it?
LDR: I liked the idea of doing a Nina Simone cover and more specifically this song and its message; I often hoped not to be misunderstood, while not knowing what to do to avoid it. This last year, I realized that people judge me for the wrong reasons. They prejudge me a lot. It took me seven years to learn how to deal with it. There were frustrating moments, obviously, especially after the first album. Afterwards, it didn’t really matter anymore.
Int: Do you feel lonely? Have you ever felt the need to be guided?
LDR: I have, I didn’t know what it was like to be guided. But during the past two years in LA, I met a lot of good musicians, I felt a sort of familiarity (camaraderie) with them. Suddenly, I had more people around me, people to call, to tell about what I had just done and ask them how their week went as well. I don’t put things in front of the mirror anymore. Half of the songs have something light in them, they’re less reflective and less about the way I see myself. I didn’t really address a particular audience in the previous records. But this year, I wanted to change my point of view, to speak to others, to a younger generation. That’s what must happen when you grow older…
Int: Do you observe the others more?
LDR: I’m more settled in reality. I go out, I blend more with the others. After having been too intellectual, too existentialist… Although, compared to my friends, I’m the most quiet. I don’t have to make myself heard excessively anymore.
Int: Tomorrow Never Came recalls the Beatles. We hear you sing with Sean Lennon. How did you get the idea?
LDR: I sang the chorus to my producer and he added a few chords. I thought about T. Rex, and I was looking for something more relaxed, more live. It led me to a melody resembling the Beatles. I asked someone to get me Sean Lennon’s number; I wanted to have his voice with mine. We facetimed, and it worked right away between us. He was very encouraging.
Int: The song seems to reflect on a rough time, which is behind you now though…
LDR: Yes, absolutely. Without being able to say what it is, though. That’s why I didn’t want to sing it alone. Aesthetically, I wanted this title to have a 60’s sound, completely, without any modern mediation. It really mattered to me because it fully fit in with me, and I wanted to express it that way, directly.
Int: One track, God Bless America, is about the USA. It is political and in relation to the election of Donald Trump. How do this era and politics influence you?
LDR: The song is about America and the women in it. In the studio, where I go every day, I have conversations about the country with my producer and my sound engineers… And it all just sort of came out. I didn’t feel like I had to say something but it would have been weird if I hadn’t. That was my feeling. It was also about me going out more, listening and talking about it. One thing that always came up with my friends was whether or not it was time to move to Paris! It was our favorite brunch conversation after the election. I especially felt the tremor, the fact that American women were mobilizing against everything that was said.
Int: We can see you’re freer in this album, not quite the tormented lover anymore.
LDR: In the previous albums, I felt split into two parts, torn. Then, I took position, chose easier ways, not to be confronted to difficult experiences anymore. I decided to have more friends, more fun.
Int: What sparked that decision?
LDR: All my previous bad experiences came back to me all of a sudden. And I had enough. I decided to change. And there wasn’t a thing this year I wasn’t certain about. It’s new for me. Something in my personal life changed and it led to a musical shift. And it was for the best, in the right artistic direction. To be in a relationship, it’s very energizing at first. But when the end comes near, only the negative energy remains… And I don’t want to go through that again. In this particular case, if I had known before that it would be this way, I would have run right away. I lived the same thing too many times, even with friends and professional relationships: from now on, I’ll never let anyone surreptitiously take control of who I am anymore. I’ll run at the first sign a relationship can become this bad. That said, sometimes, you have to go and reach the end of things, you have to be able to finish a record, a love affair…
Int: Did you ever have to fight for your integrity?
LDR: To take the right decisions, yes, but never to be the person I am. That was established from the start. When I wrote Video Games, I had to be strong and assured, I sang very directly. Now, I feel different. Back then, that’s what made me happy because that’s all I knew. But it wasn’t enough.
Int: Do you still have some tutelary figures?
LDR: I was lucky to read Bob Dylan, to understand his process and his way of doing things. I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with him… He’s my hero. And I want to clarify, I am in no way putting myself at his level. He’s all the way up there for me. Like Kurt Cobain, despite his sad passing: his way of capturing melodies which seem to come out of the air around you… It’s the ultimate cool.