“I’m sorry you have to see me like this,” says Lana Del Rey, standing in a doorway.
Quite why someone looking so spectacular – she’s dressed in leather playsuit with blow-dried hair as big as her personality – should be apologising, is anyone’s guess.
“I look so slutty,” she says, giggling, perhaps realising the effect her attire is having on this poor, overwhelmed journalist.
Lana, real name Lizzie Grant, is all-too aware how she can come across. During the photoshoot, lying on her back on a motorbike, she strikes seductive poses before quickly snapping out of them, constantly querying how she looks and how it might be perceived.
“That was too men’s mag, wasn’t it?” she asks, shuffling around coyly. Later, she confesses she even changed the way she sings to be taken more seriously. “I sing low now, but my voice used to be a lot higher. Because of the way I look,” she explains, grimacing slightly at the topic of conversation, “I needed something to ground the entire project. Otherwise I think people would assume I was some airhead singer. Well, I don’t think… I know. I’ve sung one way, and sung another, and I’ve seen what people are drawn to.”
It would be disingenuous and futile to ignore Lana’s appearance, but reducing the twenty-four-year-old’s startling talent to nothing more than a pretty face is worse. Over half a million people haven’t watched ‘Video Games’ on YouTube, in just over a month because she’s pretty. Lana has the songs – David Lynch-meets-Nancy-Sinatra-esque songs – make no mistake.
“If I’d known half a million people were going to look at that video I would’ve got my hair and make-up done properly,” she jokes. “More importantly, I wouldn’t have looked so pouty, seeing as everyone talks about my fucking face all the time and send me awful messages. As much as people seem to like it, I wasn’t ready for the personal attacks landing in my inbox.”
Hailing from Lake Placid, “a small tourist town that no tourists go to anymore” in New York state, Lana began singing in various church choirs when she was a child. She maintains today she’s not religious – “more spiritual, I know that’s a cliché” – but does say her prayers from time to time.
“I need to do that because of all the trouble I’ve been in. I won’t tell you what, because you wouldn’t believe me,” she deadpans.
Lana is an intriguing character, on one hand excited about everything happening to her at the moment, on the other, completely nonplussed about the whole experience. That’s partly down to her wanting to be a singer for so long; now it’s actually coming true, the fire in her belly has been extinguished by years of rejection.
“When you find everything you love and you lose it, and for me that was music, your ambitions definitely start to change,” she explains. “They have to. My goals have shifted from wanting to become an important artist to becoming an active member of my community. It’s really nice my music is being played and people are taking notice, but music isn’t my primary focus anymore. Not even close. My goal is to be a good person who lives with dignity and grace.”
There was a previous record, produced with David Kahne (Paul McCartney, The Strokes, Stevie Nicks, Regina Spektor). It was available on Amazon and iTunes but was withdrawn after three months, although some of the tracks can be found on YouTube if you look for them.
“I will write again because I have to now. It’s a luxury and will allow me to concentrate on other interests and pursuits. I wrote one album and no-one listened. I’m fine with that. I made an exquisite record three years ago which was perfect for me,” she asserts.
“I’ve learned to do things just for myself, and the fact things have kind of worked out now is just icing on the cake.”
Words by Andy Welch