Join Date: Nov 2008
Here's an interview Marina did for Popjustice which explains the Electra Heart thing (not an alter ego) in a more detail. Its really insightful. I'm really excited about this era/thing:
How are you?
Iím very good. Iím in a coffee shop on [happening East Londonís] Curtain Road. You didnít fall asleep again did you?
EDITORíS NOTE: Marina is referring to a phone interview mishap during the promotion of her first album when Popjustice fell asleep and was woken by the sound of Marina ringing for her phone interview. No questions had been written, chaos ensued, the interview didnít run.
No, there are some actual written-down questions this time.
Oh thatís a relief, I can never tell if itís just a catch up chat or a real interview, so...
Well this is a bit of both. Youíre putting a new song online today, so hopefully you can explain whatís going on.
So whatís going on? Whatís all this Electra Heart business? Whatís ĎFear & Loathingí?
Well, today Iím releasing a song called ĎFear & Loathingí. Itís not a single, itís just an album track. And basically Electra Heart is a story. I donít even know if itís going to take the form of an album yet, but itís a really cinematic 70s Americana-type film and each part of the story comes in Part One, Part Two, Part Three. The song thatís going online today is Part One. Itís quite hard to explain because I think a lot of people will think Electra Heart is an alter ego or something but sheís not, itís kind of basically a vehicle to portray part of the American dream, with elements of Greek tragedy and thatís all going to be coming out through the visuals. Itís hard to explain but I think youíll see it when it all comes together.
Okay. So sheís a kind of character through whom youíre telling... Some stories about yourself? Or is it all about her?
Er... Well yeah I suppose itís my view, as someone whoís not American, of the American dream.
Iím obsessed with it all. I just love the side of it thatís really vapid and hollow. And thatís kind of what Iíve really explored. The whole album is around that.
Do you think that level of vapidity and hollowness is something that you just find in America? You say youíre on Curtain Road now, you wouldnít have to go far to find something pretty vapid and hollow in East London...
(Guffaws) Well itís in all of us, isnít it? Everyoneís vapid to a degree, just like not everyone is 100% pure and innocent or kind.
Er, hello? Speak for yourself!
Oh HA HA HA - shut up! But everyone drifts through different characters every single day, based on the context of the situation theyíre in.
This might sound a bit combative and itís not meant to but do you not feel that you made this point in ĎHollywoodí on your last album?
Yes, but I was more celebrating the kitsch, glamorous element whereas with this the imagery is totally different. Itís still based on... Actually, have you seen the [UPCOMING TRACK WHOSE TITLE WE HAVE BEEN ASKED TO WITHHOLD FOR THE TIME BEING] video yet?
Okay, well thatís like a really 70s thing, itís set in the desert... I just think every artist always has something at the core of them that fascinates them and inspires them. In the beginning I had exactly the same thought - ďoh God, Iím still inspired by America, I donít want to make ĎHollywood Pt IIíĒ. And itís not like that. Iím just really inspired by that topic and that culture and I think I always will be. Itís kind of like how every longterm artist always has a thread running through their image, or their lyrics, and thatís mine. America.
But Americaís fifty states, there are so many different Americas... The Las Vegas subtext of ĎFear & Loathingí feels like a pretty easy target with the whole Ďvapidí theme, and there are plenty of places in America that arenít vapid...
No, there are, youíre right. Thatís what I want to explore. I want to explore the side that has nothing to do with glamour, and thatís all about loss and failure, and thatís more apparent now with the American economy and stuff like that. But that image, that illusion we have of America really fascinates me.
Youíve spent a lot of time in America so itís been around you, but it feels funny that as a UK artist, and youíre sitting in London now, well, thereís a lot happening in the UK thatís inspirational enough. Economy, riots, Cher Lloyd at Number One... These are turbulent times.
(Laughs) I agree, itís shocking.
I mean people are going to write amazing songs about what is happening right now. Actually letís be honest, lots of people are going to write ****ing awful songs about whatís happening right now, but...
What, about the looting?
There are just going to be a lot of people who decide that theyíre going to try and come up with their attempt at a ĎGhost Towní to capture the mood of the nation.
Probably, but lyrically, well, Iím not a political person. I definitely draw inspiration socially and culturally, but Iím not someone whoís like ĎIím for a revolutioní. Itís more about fantasy.
How is the fantasy element present in your new project?
Well for one itís painted as a modern day tragedy - thatís quite fantastical. Itís painted as a play, like a film. Itís about living. Itís just my nature, Iím really overly dramatic.
And these songs that are going to be appearing. Thereís one today, and then thereís...
Yes the banger. So this album, or collection of songs or whatever it is, they tell a story...
So are you releasing them in order, with each song as a chapter to tell that story?
For example with ĎFear & Loathingí [the video] I didnít want to just pop up going (cheesy voice) ďHEY!!!! IíM BACK EVERYONE WEARING A WHITE BLONDE WIG, IíM A POPSTAR!!!!Ē. I wanted it to be artistic, and itís turned out that way. So ĎFear & Loathingí has turned out to be the transition into the antithesis. Like everything Iím not, thatís what Iím becoming.
The whole idea, the whole notion of pop culture and especially pop music is ALL based on illusion. And portraying yourself as something more exciting than you are. And my heart is always against that. So thatís why Iím doing it. Iím SO against it that I almost have to play the part. Does that make sense to you?
Sort of, but... Are you not overthinking it a bit?
(Laughs) People say that to me every day. Just generally! (Laughs)
Can you explain again, in a short sentence, whatís going on? To make it absolutely clear.
Okay. Electra Heart is the antithesis of everything that I stand for. And the point of introducing her and building a whole concept around her is that she stands for the corrupt side of American ideology, and basically thatís the corruption of yourself. My worst fear - thatís anyoneís worst fear - is losing myself and becoming a vacuous person. And that happens a lot when youíre very ambitious. Does that make sense a bit more?
And thatís why itís imperative that sheís blonde. I wanted it to be really unnatural. Like, Iíve rejected everything of myself.
Is this not just you finding a way to distance yourself from something youíve made but youíre not happy with?
(Pause) Dunno! Isnít that what ALL music is about? (Laughs)
But not all popstars come along with their second album and go, Ďdo you know what, I donít like this so Iím going to invent a character to subvert it and turn it in on itselfí.
If you pin it on an alter-ego or a character it becomes cliched and it really isnít that - I want it to be like a film, where you follow this character on a journey.
So the start of the journey that you see with the first ĎFear & Loathingí video... You see her cutting her hair. What does this symbolise?
(Roars with laughter) Sorry, you crack me up.
No, itís fine, carry on. So that represents change...
Er... Okay. But nothing more than that?
No, I suppose questioning who you are?
But the point is that most popstars come back with a new haircut when they release their new album. Like Example. Heís got a popstar haircut now, but didnít have one before.
And popstars donít usually come back going, Ďooh, hereís a video of me cutting my hair in black and whiteí.
And thatís because they like to facilitate the illusion. But Iím not interested in maintaining that. Iím interested in deconstructing it. Like with the [UPCOMING TRACK WHOSE TITLE WE HAVE BEEN ASKED TO WITHHOLD FOR THE TIME BEING] video it starts off and itís very kind of Mulholland Drive / Paris, Texas, that kind of vibe, and Iím actually filming myself putting on the wig, but I donít care that itís Ďruining the illusioní. Thatís the whole point - youíre becoming something youíre not.
Canít you just do a nice pop song?
(Laughs) (Stop laughing) (Laughs again) Am I meant to answer that?
Do you need to make this so complicated?
Or is it me thatís making it too complicated by asking too many questions?
I think so. I think youíll understand when you see the second video. I donít think itís complicated at all, actually, but maybe thatís because Iíve heard the rest of the album. Think of your favourite artists who have very specific visions. If youíd listened to just one of their songs then interviewed them based on that one song, you might not have understood the whole thing.
ĎFear & Loathingí starts off with you singing in the first person, then by the chorus youíre singing in the third person. Whoís the ĎIí and whoís the Ďyouí?
(Laughs) Well Iím always talking to myself, in every song, that Iíll ever write, in my life. (Chortles at length) I like to say itís about relationships just to look a bit more normal, but it never is! (Laughs) No, but itís definitely to myself.
But to clear this up - itís not you talking to Electra Heart or anything like that.
No. Electra in my head is not like this real person. I donít want it to be like a cringey alter-ego, because I donít feel that it is.
So is it more like Plan B and Strickland Banks?
I donít know. I guess there are parts of it, just like with Strickland Banks... You could relate it to David Bowie I suppose. I think artists have a tendency to have different personalities, or maybe everyone does I donít know, but I think artists are maybe more vivid about how they articulate different parts of themselves. But even if you look at the first album, the way in which I wrote was very much in a storytelling manner. I think this is now a distillation of that, if you know what I mean.
That does make sense. You know the line in ĎFear & Loathingí about trying to have it all but ending up with not very much at all? Could you give an example of when that has happened?
Yes. I mean, you know my personality I think. It just seems like people who donít try in life, it kind of works for them. But because I wanted it so badly on my first album, and also because Iím a bigmouth and I like to say ridiculous things, when you donít meet your own expectations or you donít achieve the things youíve said you want to achieve, you feel like a failure. And quite frankly I still am in my head, because I know where I want to go.
The first album felt a bit like a second album. There was a self-consciousness to it. Or maybe a self-awareness to it, but there was a quality that you rarely get on a debut album. Itís usually album two before people start responding to the worldís response to them. And the first album is usually unaware of the reality of whatís to come. Like, you know how an element of self awareness is one of the things that separates us from the animals? It feels like debut albums have a more animalistic feel, and you never had that.
That didnít make very much sense did it.
I donít know if itís a compliment or not but Iím going to go with Ďnotí.
It wasnít meant as a criticism, but it just feels as if we have missed your innocent phase because even while you were recording your debut album you were straight into music industry hell.
There was no innocence! Actually, quite frankly, there WAS. Because I wrote, for example, ĎHollywoodí a year and a half before I was signed. And itís funny actually because people will always try and pick holes in things like that. When it was a single Ďbloggersí were going ďoh sheís sold outĒ, and I was like, ďwhat are you going on about? I wrote that on a £200 keyboard two years agoĒ. So I think I had an innocent phase but maybe Iím just the sort of person who feels like people are watching.
Well people ARE watching.
The idea of trying to have it all seems relevant to [UPCOMING TRACK WHOSE TITLE WE HAVE BEEN ASKED TO WITHHOLD FOR THE TIME BEING], because itís very much a Marina song in lots of ways but in other ways it sounds a lot like a 2011-era hit single.
Yes I think it does and itís not something Iíve done before. If this was a year ago I donít mind saying now that I would have been, like, ďno way am I doing thisĒ. I was not even up for working with anyone. This is why these two songs fit really well together actually, because ĎFear & Loathingí is about genuinely not feeling bitter or crazy or jealous any more (nervous laugh) and actually feeling a lot better off for it. And so Iíve been working with a lot of other people. Iíve been working with Dr Luke, Stargate, and Iíve learned SO much. And Iíve done an album - well, itís nearly done - thatís so exciting and feels like a real album. I just think, if Iíd sat in my bedroom and carried on as I was because I thought that equalled credibility, I donít think I would have produced a good album. With Stargate the production is the antithesis of everything Iíve done so far, but I think you have to try [line breaks up]. And I really like the song now. Iíve really grown into it!
So you didnít like it to start with?
No, I did... But we originally composed it to this sort of guitar dance track. Then on the last night of working with them someone from Amsterdam sent in an instrumental to a different girl that didnít work. And then Tor [from Stargate] was like, Ďoh my God, what if we turn put it underneath that trackí, and I was like, Ďhm...í, and then we did it and it sounded amazing. And I really wanted to go with it. This is like the only time I would have released that song, I think. End of the summer... Before I have an album out. Itís not the sort of song that would be the lead single for an album.
What do you think your fans are going to make of it?
I think some people will hate it and some people are going to love it.
Some of your moaning fans are going to go ****ing mental!
Probs! But writing to your fanbase is the worst thing you can do, so Iím never going to do that.
But in terms of your vocals, and the melodies, and the lyrics, itís completely Marina.
Yes! Of course it is.
But itís not like youíve just gone in, idiot-style, and gone Ďoh Iíll just sing any old rubbish over a generic Dr Luke backing trackí.
(Laughs) No. And also, my stuff gets remixed to oblivion, so I was like, why DONíT I do a dance song? (Laughs) And ALSO, with ĎFear & Loathingí , the songwriting structure is so up and down and all over the place that itís really nice to just write a nice streamlined song for a change.
Well thatís the good thing, itís just a love song...
(Laughs) It might sound like that but really Iím just talking to myself, ha ha ha! No, not really.
Is there anything else youíd like to explain today?
No, I donít think so. Except ĎFear & Loathing Part Twoí is coming next Monday.
Right, and thatís [UPCOMING TRACK WHOSE TITLE WE HAVE BEEN ASKED TO WITHHOLD FOR THE TIME BEING]?
Yes, with the video. Itís going to be the two videos together that are going to be on iTunes, and [UPCOMING TRACK WHOSE TITLE WE HAVE BEEN ASKED TO WITHHOLD FOR THE TIME BEING] you can buy on September 26.
Yeah alright Ďpluggingí, do you want to read out the iTunes URL while youíre at it?
(Guffaws) Okay. So I donít think thereís anything else. I donít know when Part Three will come. A while later. Maybe at the end of the year.
So itís not leading into an album? How modern.
No. But it might be, you never know.
Well this certainly clears things up, and in some ways makes them more complicated.
I wonder if this interview will get shelved like the last one?
Hopefully itíll go up this afternoon.
What a bitch though, I was so upset that the last one was shelved. I thought it was my moment to shine. No - in the bin.
Didnít it go up in the end?
No! Unless you put it on, like, shitweb.com.
We should use shitweb.com as a repository for all our rubbish we donít use. Crap Popjustice interviews and crap Marina demos.
OH YES THATíS AMAZING. Okay, well, thatís it.
Nice to have you back.