Despite dividing critics, Lana Del Rey has pitched herself perfectly for success by fashioning an image that hits the hipster nail on the head. The current incarnation of “hip” rides the cutting edge of 1964 with clothes, 1966 with music, 1988 with accessories, and 1886 with facial hair. Del Rey is mining that faux nostalgia with a persona created by mixing the name of Golden Age actress Lana Turner with the Ford Del Rey car, dressing like a girl from Mad Men and having a vocal style described as reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe. What’s On talks with Del Rey about her success, inspiration and what she will bring Kyiv’s way.
Your debut album Born to Die topped the music charts and iTunes in 14 countries and went platinum three times. Your awards include two Brit, one MTV and one Ivor Novello plus GQ named you Woman of the Year – were you ready for such a rapid rise? Did you expect it?
That’s a surprise to me. I’m not used to having a lot of people hear my music.
Saying that, you’re referring to when you were performing in New York clubs? Was it a happy period of your life?
It was daunting. I love to sing and I really love to write, but in terms of being onstage, I’m not that comfortable, which I think is sort of clear (sighs).
What does creating music mean to you?
Although I love music, it is not my first passion. My passion was working with homeless outreach, drugs and alcohol rehabilitation; I lived in New York for 10 years so that was my “real” job. So, I would say music doesn’t really feel like my true calling. My parents raised me to know you should give back or contribute to your community. I still fly to New York and help with “meals on wheels” at Thanksgiving. I need that for inner balance because in the past months I have often felt like this isn’t my life.
Working with disadvantaged people, you’ll have witnessed and experienced the darker side of life. Is that what you draw on when you create music variously described as meditative, philosophical, and powerfully emotional?
There’s always been a melancholy in me. Of course it influences my music. It’s like reflecting your energy in music. When I write songs I want them to be easy and simple, just as all true feelings are.
What message do you send with your music?
Most of my songs are about heartbreak. They also are about two people that I couldn’t hang on to because they got in trouble and had to leave. When you’re an introvert like me and you’ve been lonely for a while, and then find someone who understands you, you become really attached to them. It’s a real release.
Your songs are autobiographical then?
Usually what happens is all of the verses are always autobiographical up until the chorus. I usually leave some room for my imagination to step in. If I’m singing about the way that things used to be, by the time I get to the chorus I might start singing about the way I wished that they had been.
What music are you listening to in every-day life – in the car, while having lunch?
The same thing I’ve been listening to for a while. Nirvana, I’m always listening to them. I like Frank Sinatra, Elvis, I really like some of the film scores to my favourite movies.
What do you know about Ukraine and what are you expecting from your concert in Kyiv?
I don’t know a lot about this country, I’ve never been. But I guess it’s going to be fun. My expectation is people in Kyiv will enjoy the concert. I will try to do my best for them.
Can you share your biggest dream with us?
For now my dream is to be a good person who lives with dignity and grace.
Lana Del Rey
Palace Ukraine (V Vasylkivska 103)
10 June at 19.00
Tickets: 500 –3,200hrv
by Kateryna Kyselyova