Marina and The Diamonds

“I was obsessed with being a singer, nothing else; totally obsessed.”
Marina of Marina And The Diamonds - and, just so you know, she is the only proper member of Marina And The Diamonds - is reminiscing about her teens. “I was obsessed with being a singer, nothing else; totally obsessed,”’ she remembers with a smile on her face. “I would think about it every hour of every day for about five years until I was able to say to people, ‘OK, yeah, I’m going to do this with my life!’ And they would reply, ‘What? I’ve never heard you sing.’” She breaks into her lovely infectious laugh, probably because that childhood dream that people poured cold water on emerged unscathed. Now twenty-three, she’s about to take on the world with her first album; due to be released in January.

Marina is, quite frankly, adorable. And so charming, I can’t believe this is the same person who wrote on her blog that she hates socialising. She is tiny, even with her hair backcombed into a bouffant for our photoshoot, and has a natural, open charm that befits her music. With intimate, confessional songs, and her must-read blog about adventures in the music industry, you would think Marina was everyone’s best friend. Yet all this openness must take it out of her, right? “Yeah, sometimes with ‘I Am A Robot’ I just cringe like, I can’t believe I actually wrote that - I remember thinking as I wrote it, ‘Oh God, it’s so disgusting I’m writing this, because it’s totally exposed.’ But these are the songs that help people - the artists that I admire are really honest. They make you feel like you’re not alone at certain times in your life, so I’d like to be like that.”

Are her songs about real-life situations, then? “I’m not that inspired by love,” says Marina, decisively. “I guess when you break up you want to write about things but I haven’t had a lot of boyfriends. I don’t find people I really like very often.” Though she does admit to getting some material out of a break-up a couple of years ago, when she was twenty-one. “It took me a year and a half to get the songs out - it’s a bit embarrassing that it’s so long ago!”

Marina discovered her influences late, which might account for the distinctive quality of her singing voice. “I wasn’t taught how to sing and it wasn’t something that was natural to me. I’d never tried to sound like anybody and I never listened to music so that’s probably why.” She bursts out laughing; “Why am I here again? Why am I in this industry? I was only nineteen when I began to discover PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple, Patti Smith, and I’m sure they’ve influenced me in some way, but my parents never listened to anything cool - my mum listened to Kate Bush, and that’s the only reason I can think of why people start making comparisons.”

Her parents - Welsh mum, Greek dad, now divorced - are a constant touchstone, not least for her recent songwriting. “The album’s called ‘Family Jewels’ and I was just writing a lot about certain family members, namely my parents… My parents are truly inspiring people, and obviously they brought me up, and my feelings about life come from them. They’re very amazing people; when they say something, they act accordingly and they stick to their principles, and I really want to be like that.” Her dad came to see her July show at the Roundhouse in London. “He was really shocked,” says Marina, beaming. In a good way? “Yes,” she says, and starts laughing again, in that catchy, infectious way.

Words by Hannah Forbes Black
Photography by Darren Smith
Styling by Rose Forde
Stylist’s assistants Louby McLighlin & Joanna Gilmour
Hair by Hiroshi Mat ushita , using Bumble & Bumble
Make-up by Dorita Nissen using Shu Uemura

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