Hol­ly­wood pop

Don’t write off Ma­rina & the Di­a­monds as just an­other face in pop – her feisty, elec­tronic new al­bum shows she’s in with the big-hit­ters now, writes Lau­ren Mur­phy

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

MA­RINA DIA­MAN­DIS is in a bit of a flus­ter. Zip­ping through cen­tral London in the back of a black cab, the singer is in a rush to get to a pho­to­shoot on the other city of the city. As pop star in­ter­view clichés go, it couldn’t be more per­fect.

But don’t write Dia­man­dis off as just an­other face in a long line of young fe­male pop-ori­ented mu­si­cians. The 26-year-old’s new al­bum Elec­tra Heart sug­gests that her place is amongst the big-hit­ters, if there’s any jus­tice in the world. A feistier, more elec­tronic-based cre­ation than her 2010 de­but The Fam­ily Jew­els, it for­ti­fies the Welsh woman’s po­si­tion at the van­guard of Bri­tish pop mu­sic.

There’s that word again: pop. “It’s funny, be­cause the term ‘pop star’ has very dif­fer­ent con­no­ta­tions,” she says. “I don’t feel like one, but maybe you don’t have a choice; maybe you’re made into one.

“I think it’s nice to be able to ex­plore dif­fer­ent things on each al­bum. It’d be a shame to just stick to do­ing one thing for­ever, wouldn’t it?”

Dia­man­dis has ex­per­i­mented with more than just a new mu­si­cal style for al­bum num­ber two. For starters, there’s the fact that Elec­tra Heart is a con­cept al­bum – a phrase that causes many mu­sos to pinch their noses and back slowly away.

“It does, ab­so­lutely,” she gig­gles. “But I think we’re used to con­cept al­bums be­ing some­thing re­ally se­ri­ous and heavy, whereas this isn’t, re­ally. It’s kind of like an anti-love, or anti-break-up al­bum. I named it Elec­tra Heart be­cause I wanted to al­most per­son­ify heartbreak, and make it into a char­ac­ter that was de­void of it. That’s why you have some very cold, cal­cu­lated songs like Home­wrecker and Bub­blegum Bitch, ’cos I just have quite a black hu­mour. That’s my out­look on life.”

The idea of bas­ing the songs around one char­ac­ter (Elec­tra Heart) and four “archetypes” – her own take on the facets of fe­male per­son­al­ity that in­clude the Pri­madonna, SueBar­bie-a, the Teen Idle and the Home­wrecker – came af­ter spend­ing time trav­el­ling in the US af­ter the re­lease of The Fam­ily Jew­els.

“I was start­ing to think about our Tum­blr gen­er­a­tion, and how pho­tos ap­pear on Tum­blr and peo­ple be­come al­most like min­istars of the in­ter­net, and you don’t know who the hell they are – they’re just anony­mous faces,” she says. “So I started to take pho­tos, and make an ef­fort to look com­pletely dif­fer­ent in each one, in dif­fer­ent ho­tels and apart­ments all across Amer­ica when I was trav­el­ling. And

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it just started to build from that. It was more the prima donna archetype at the be­gin­ning, re­ally; I was read­ing a lot of books like Hol­ly­wood Baby­lon, fo­cus­ing more on the gos­sipy, sui­ci­dal side of the ’30s and ’40s in Hol­ly­wood. That’s how it started, and then it grew into a real project.

“I just wanted to make a gim­mick out of love. We’re so fa­mil­iar with the idea of love in pop songs, but I didn’t want it to fall into that kind of clichéd cat­e­gory. So I thought I’d cre­ate Elec­tra Heart.”

Amer­ica also plays a big a role on Elec­tra Heart. Dia­man­dis pre­vi­ously touched on the glam­or­i­sa­tion of the western world on songs Disco fiends Friendly Fires, grime/hip-hop MCS Pro­fes­sor Green and Labrinth, DJS Fake Blood and Erol Alkan, hip-hop duo Riz­zle Kicks and Belfast in­die troupe Cashier No 9 are amongst the big-hit­ters join­ing Ma­rina & the Di­a­monds at the 53rd Trin­ity Ball on April 20th. There'll be a host of tal­ent rep­ping the Ir­ish scene, too: Ryan Sheri­dan, The Orig­i­nal Rude­boys (top) and The Kanyu Tree (bot­tom) are also on the bill.

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