Marina And The Diamonds
On the one hand it’s cutesy and commercial, at the same time it walks the line of the weird and left-field… A little riot-girrrl and a little Britney Spear-ish, Marina And The Diamonds are proving to be quite a brain-fuck for industry types trying to neatly box-in this latest UK alt-pop sensation. Nevertheless, come Australia’s summer festival season, we’ll get to make up our own minds about the elusive Marina Diamandis and her eclectic treasure-chest of finger-snapping tunes.
“It’s like a mini-explosion of theatrical goodness!” she says of her live show. “It’s also a very rough performance in the flesh. I love the whole riot-girrrl era and all the girl punk bands, so it’s definitely not tame on the stage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I can bring my complete show to Australia the way that I do it around the UK, just because it’s very expensive. Usually it’s quite cinematic and there’s lots of amazing lights and photography; it’s just too bad.”
Diamandis is definitely bringing her chart-topping debut album The Family Jewels to our shores, however, following on from her first headlining, 70-date tour around Europe, America and Canada. Days before its release, the album peaked at number five in the UK album charts and was certified silver shortly after, largely thanks to singles Mowgli’s Road and Hollywood.
“It speaks volumes about spending habits of the youth,” suggests Diamandis. “The fact that it’s done so well in the UK means that even despite the recession, music is still so important to people.
“I get the best feedback for I Am Not A Robot,” she adds, “that’s my favourite song too. It’s the purest track on there; it’s the most open lyrically. I don’t want to compromise in any way with my songs and I’ve been lucky and grateful so far that I haven’t had to. I always pause before critiquing another artists,” she muses, “but I have to say that even Lady Gaga, for all her talent, the way she started off was to definitely compromise and give in. She’s a very talented musician but she went into an area that was unexpected for a classical pianist.
“I guess you have to do what you have to do to get where you want to be, but I didn’t want to change to be accepted. Compromise for me is a very gritty issue.”
No, instead Diamandis is on a mission to put her own unique, original stamp on culture and make an impact on her generation the way that Spears did on hers. And while Diamandis draws some influence from Miss Spears, she claims it’s more about what the pop princess stood for – rather than her sugary brand of pop per se.
“I’m not ashamed to admit I like Britney Spears, no way!” she giggles. “For me, it was something about her personality that appealed to me. She was this delicious package of weird wrongness on a lot of levels. People didn’t really know how to handle her because the media displayed her as a little girl who didn’t know what was going on, when Britney was actually very educated and intellectual. She is smart and I genuinely think she had amazing social skills, because she seriously pulled off the whole circus of her life for a long time. It takes skill to work from eight years old up until 25 and not go completely crazy,” she laughs. “I’m more in awe of her determination and I admire her in the same way that I admire Madonna.”
Because ultimately, according to Diamandis, Madonna is who every young girl dreams of one day becoming. An artist with courage and power, not to mention the ability to make people sit up and take notice, Diamandis says it’s really the Material Girl whom she relates to the most.
“A lot of the work has already been done because of artists like Madonna,” she offers. “I’m getting a bit sick of provocation and the shock value – there’s no such thing as that anymore. A lot of women and female pop artists are trying too hard. Being overtly sexual is not necessarily empowering or liberating, it’s more liberating to pose and display yourself in your natural way.
“Ever since I can remember I’ve always been very aware of my sex, as weird as that sounds, I’m very conscious of being female. I grew up with an independent single mother and a sister so I was taught to not make my sexuality my main identity. To me, it’s interesting being a female but I don’t let it consume me.”
Likewise when it comes to her rising status as one of the UK’s biggest pop sensations – you can keep the fame, just give her a quiet bedroom, a pen and some paper.
“With The Fame Monster, I want to be the opposite of Lady Gaga,” claims Diamandis. “She loves the fantasy and the perfect image, but I don’t doubt that she has a really good heart. I’m just not a fan of the whole attention-grabbing image – I’m the other side of that coin. I can’t be arsed with all the effort!” she chuckles. “I just want to relate simply, quickly and purely to people through the music I write.
“As a human being,” she adds, “I’m eager to put a different stamp on culture and my generation. I’m also fiercely ambitions but not for the fame, though as soon as you become a well-known artist people assume you’re attention-grabbing. I think it’s in me to make a difference in the industry, especially for female artists. It can just be very frustrating trying to do that because people in this industry will go out of their way to sabotage you if they smell any kind of success in you.
MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS bring their amazing live show and pop thrills to Australia for the first time when they play The Hi-Fi on Tuesday December 28 (tickets from ticketek.com.au, 132 849, 1300 843 443 or thehifi.com.au), and to the sold out FALLS FESTIVAL over December 28-January 1 alongside Interpol, Public Enemy, Joan Jett and heaps more. MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS album, The Family Jewels is out now through Warner.