Lana Del Rey, during recent visit in Germany in order to promote her new album – the Paradise Edition – gave an interview to the December issue of KulturSPIEGEL magazine, where she speaks about how she’s got her record deal, social commitment and holidays!
Read the whole interview below:
Lana Del Rey: I’d like to ask you something beforehand: Do you like my music?KulturSPIEGEL: Yes. Why do you ask?Lana Del Rey: Oh thanks, thank you, that’s surprising. Most journalists hate my songs. Believe me, I speak from experience, because I’ve been insulted extensively this year.KulturSPIEGEL: Nonetheless, your album “Born to Die” became on of the bestsellers of this year. Do you have any idea why you polarise like that?Lana Del Rey: It’s a mystery to me. Maybe the thing is that once in a blue moon someone appears in Pop with whom many can’t do anything with and recently, that’s been me. Then that works like “whispers down the lane”: Some writer spreads a little, weird, mean story about me which is carried further and keeps increasing in lunacy and malice until it doesn’t have to do anything with me anymore.KulturSPIEGEL: You’ve also been heavily criticised as a pretty marionette of cunning music managers. Would that have happened to a man?Lana Del Rey: I’ve been approached with the alleged misogyny a lot but that’s not what it’s about in my case. I think that’s something personal. My songs which I really do write myself, are very intimate and because such feelings seem shady to a lot of people, they conclude that I have to be a marionette. But that just illustrates their helplessness.KulturSPIEGEL: Is the melancholy in your music artistically arranged or a case for the therapist?Lana Del Rey: Neither. There’s always been a melancholy in me, call it desire. I was four or five when I was sitting on the doorsteps of my parents’ house and lingering for a place that was somewhere different. Ask my mother if you don’t believe me. This feeling has been accompanying me my whole life. But I don’t suffer. I would rather say that I’ve learned to come to terms with my sadness. But there have been times where I wasn’t doing well. Luckily, I have overcome these dark years. The memory of those years inspire my songs now.KulturSPIEGEL: In an interview, you once talked about death as “dark paradise”. Are you serious about that?Lana Del Rey: Yes, death and paradise are are intertwined to me. After death, I expect something that is very serene and calm. You could already call that paradise. It is so loaded with meaning. I just love the word “paradise”. I even tattooed it on my hand. “Heaven” is also a great word, or “exotic”.KulturSPIEGEL: But does one have to tattoo a word onto your hand because it sounds nice?Lana Del Rey: Of course! I love meaningful words. I tattoed the names of my favourite authors, Whitman and Nabokov, on my arm. Every time I look a that I remember that life can be great.KulturSPIEGEL: What’s the difference between Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, which is your real name, and Lana Del Rey, your pseudonym?Lana Del Rey: Nothing. We are one. I just thought that this name fits my music better. It’s exotic and arcane. But when I spend time with my friends, I don’t behave any different than now when I’m in a hotel suite and talking to you as Lana Del Rey.KulturSPIEGEL: Do you feel underestimated?Lana Del Rey: Why should I? Just because many American journalists can’t stand me? My album is a multi-million bestseller. I have even won awards. Only in my home country, the USA, that are the inspiration of all of my songs, one doesn’t know how to treat me. That’s also why I moved away from there and why I live in London now.KulturSPIEGEL: What would you have done if you wouldn’t have had any success as Lana Del Rey? Was there a backup plan?Lana Del Rey: Music was my backup plan. A hobby. I worked as a social worker in New York for many years. I had been working at a homeless shelter and rehabilitation centres for alcoholics and drug addicts since I was 18. Music was the luxury after that for a long time. I’m great at getting people in need their social security numbers and -cards back. That’s my true passion.KulturSPIEGEL: Hard to believe.Lana Del Rey: Just ask my parents and siblings. They will confirm all of that. When I came to New York, I immediately got to know a few people that were caring. I came to New York to get to know cool musicians and authors. I never found he poets that I had dreamt of that typed sensational novels into typewriters in breathless nights. The only passionate people that I met in New York, were social workers. And that’s where I stayed, worked during the day and made music alone at night with my guitar.KulturSPIEGEL: And how did you get to your record deal?Lana Del Rey: I took part in an amateur-songwriter-contest. I didn’t win. But one of the judges had a little label and offered me a record deal and a producer. I took the pseudonym of Lizzy Grant and recorded an album at night for seven months that was shelved for two years in the hope that a bigger company would acquire the record. But that didn’t happen. The songs were dark, not suited for a wide audience. Besides, the back-and-forth of the music managers was tedious: people that first tell you you’re brilliant think you’re missing something one week later. I then came to terms with not making any music. Except just for myself. I produced video clips with friends which I put on the internet myself. Just like “Video Games” with which I got myself a record deal after all.KulturSPIEGEL: Is it true that you grew up without a TV?Lana Del Rey: Even though there was a TV in the living room of my parents’ house, it wasn’t connected to the cable network, it was just a display for video films. There were normally connected TVs in my father’s and mother’s rooms on which I was allowed to watch cartoons as a child. But only rarely. My parents thought that TV was too overtaxing for me, that it impressed me too much. They were probably right. When I saw something interesting on TV as a child, I would parrot them for days after that which scared my parents so much that they took the family TV from the network when I was 7. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV normally until I was 14. Back then, I used to sit in front of MTV 24/7 and inhale everything I saw on there.KulturSPIEGEL: The video to your song “Video Games” has been clicked on nearly 50 million times on YouTube. Where would you be without the internet?Lana Del Rey: I have no idea, I’ve asked myself that. The internet is something abstract that I probably haven’t understood until now. Who are all of the people that are seeing my videos? I know neither them nor their faces which makes my success seem surreal.KulturSPIEGEL: Do you read the comments on YouTube?Lana Del Rey: Sometimes. You have to be careful otherwise you’ll go crazy. Sometimes I’ll react to something. I’ll write a comment, ordinarily, under my real name. That will set off excitement on the internet. I just have to write ‘Shut up’ somewhere and Millions of people think it’s great. I find that creepy.KulturSPIEGEL: You’re badmouthed even worse on the internet. Are you hardened now?Lana Del Rey: No, and I’l’ never be that ironclad. Of course I know that one shouldn’t take vulgarities like that personally. But sometimes it takes a while to become conscious of that fact.KulturSPIEGEL: Do you still feel the need to google your name?Lana Del Rey: Earlier, before I became famous, I did that a lot. I only do that rarely now. A year ago, nobody was writing anything about me so the googling was relaxed. Now, it scares me more. The internet is full of aggressive people. I don’t even want to know how my new record “Paradise” is being teared to shreds these days on the internet. But in a few weeks, the curiosity will probably overcome me.KulturSPIEGEL: Do you use social networks?Lana Del Rey: As to Twitter and Facebooks, I pulled myself back privately for a long time. I only use the networks as a marketing tool. When I’m bringing out a new record, I’ll upload a few photos. Nothing more. I’m more interested in other aspects of the internet. For example, I’m planning to found a little foundation. For that kind of work, the internet is great. We want to encourage thinkers with up to $200,000 – people that care for the sustainability of this planet or are improving the usability of social networks.KulturSPIEGEL: Where does your social commitment come from?Lana Del Rey: My parents raised me knowing that one has to apply oneself in the community and share with others. I’m flying to New York tomorrow and will help with “meals on wheel” on Thanksgiving. I need that for my inner balance because in the past ten months it has often felt like that wasn’t my life. I barely talk to the people that used to make up my life anymore.KulturSPIEGEL: Do you also distribute food to people in need on Christmas Eve?Lana Del Rey: No, I’ll be with my siblings and grandparents in Lake Placid then. I promised my mother a while ago that we would always see each other on Christmas. That is a meaningful time, in the days between Christmas and New Year’s, everyone draws the balance where one stands in life and how it’s supposed to go on.KulturSPIEGEL: Do you go to chuch then, too?Lana Del Rey: Of course, I’m Catholic. I like to sing in church because I love religious songs, christmas carols. “Silent Night” is particularly great.KulturSPIEGEL: Did you believe in Santa Claus as a child?Lana Del Rey: Oh yes! I was confident in his existence. My mother used to write us little notes that were supposedly written by him. Like “Thank you for the cookies. I hope you like my presents. Greetings, S.”KulturSPIEGEL: Did you feel betrayed when you found out the truth?Lana Del Rey: I was twelve years old and shocked and asked my father to tell me the truth: “Dad, does Santa Claus exist?” He awkardly shook his head and I was bewildered – “What?” I wanted to know what the fuss and fairy tales where all about. But now I know how important a good show is.KulturSPIEGEL: Is it exhausting to be the protagonist of the Lan Del Rey-Show?Lana Del Rey: It depends. In France I’m responsible for enormous crowds, in the USA I’m rarely recognised. I love sitting in coffee shops and reading the newspaper. That’s still not a problem in New York. All right, sometimes someone will come up to me and say: “I’m sorry, you look like Lana Del Rey.” And I’ll respond: “Thank you, that’s very nice of you.” And I’ll be happy.
Translated by: lolalitahey