Sunday, 27 September 2009

Marina and the Diamonds - Interviewed

My last ever article for Nottingham-music-bible *ahem* The Mic...

Marina & the Diamonds: "I WOULD LITERALLY RATHER DIE"

Micipedia Basics

Who? Bonkers solo-superstar-in-embryo
Sounds Like? Kate Bush raised by Wolves
Mic Reccomends: 'Mowgli's Road'

"I THINK IT'S A BUNCH OF SHIT." I meet Marina Diamandis - a part Greek, part Welsh Londoner, if you can digest that - on a hot Saturday afternoon in May. We have sought refuge in the Pit and Pendulum, leaving behind the mania that is Dot to Dot Festival. "It's a bit gothic in here, isn't it?" Marina takes a sneaky slurp from her smuggled-in can of Red Bull, frequently breaking into a startlingly booming laugh. "I hope they don't catch me." Within minutes, it becomes evident that whatever "It" is - that tangible, cannot-be-bottled appeal Simon Cowell calls Star Quality (normally to the likes of Steve fucking Brookstein) - well, Marina has "It." In Spades.

Female pop stars are like buses: you wait for one to come along, and *you can finish this one yourself*. Fantastic news for most Pop Lovers, but something of a headache for those who feel that there's just too many X Chromosomes clogging up the airwaves ("misogynists"). "I THINK IT'S A BUNCH OF SHIT," barks Marina. Don't get me wrong, I love La Roux and Little Boots, but I'm not just part of a trend. I won't be pushed over easily, even if the press tries to lump us all together. The most important thing is to really know what you want, and for a long time I really didn't."

So what does Marina and the Diamonds bring to a creaking-at-the-sides table? For starters, there are no synths here, nor indie-fied guitars (making journalistically pigeonholing her something of a difficulty). Broadly, this is big, dramatic pop music, with refreshingly low-fi production. 'Mowgli's Road' rattles along on a simple, driving piano line, complete with cuckoos and monkey laughter. You might have stumbled across the classically-flecked buzz single, 'I Am Not a Robot': an endorsement from cultural cockroach Perez Hilton has helped the video rack up 200,000 Youtube hits. Yet Marina's music has a sense of drama, a theatricality, that has thus far escaped her contemporary performers (I'm looking at you, Florence). She crafts strange yet simple narratives that "are not just about love. I would literally rather die. Oh god, I'd better put this Red Bull away, that bloke's coming back again."

Marina's songs tell stories, and in the flesh she is full of them. She was so desperate to make connections in music that, for no other reason, she tried out for a boy band. This followed a rather unsuccessful audition for The Lion King: The Musical (she has no formal dance training, and is unsurprisingly still awaiting a call back). "I tried everything I could to get into the industry. Apart from sleeping with people. Like Madonna' *howls*. Eventually, having been courted by fourteen labels with varying degrees of interest, Marina was signed to Warner/Atlantic. A single will test the waters this winter, with an album to follow next year.

It's difficult to predict whether Marina will be the straw that breaks the Synth Girls' back, or whether she's just a bit too difficult to package. But then again, we thought Mini Viva would tank, so what do we know? Later that evening, Marina positively throws herself around The Social's small stage; glittering away in a black leotard, and dancing like Madonna before she turned into a small bony man, the "It" factor is all too apparent.

Yet an hour beforehand, a nice, spotty barman at the Pit and Pendulum finally realises that Marina did not buy the Red Bull within the premises. Having been politely asked to leave, the Diamond goes back out into the sun, chuckling loudly about Goths and their bloody regulations.

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