What happens when you put together great pop music with dance sensibilities, a gal with one heck of a shopping sense and a current love for all things pastels? You get none other than mega-stylish singing sensation Marina & The Diamonds.
You’ve probably heard of Marina & The Diamonds before (the stage name for Welsh-born Marina Diamandis), as she’s been on the festival circuits the last few years both here and abroad (think Coachella, Leeds and Glastonbury). Now she’s back on the music scene with her latest single and pastel-covered video for “Primadonna” off her upcoming sophomore album Electra Heart.
As soon as we first laid eyes on her brand new video, we couldn’t help but fall in love with all the pretty pastels spotted everywhere that gave us a Marie Antoinette meets Elizabeth Taylor meets disco glam vibe. With that said, her new look is definitely a bit of a departure from her previous aesthetic, back when her first album The Family Jewels came out and saw Marina dazzling it up in some great edgy styles–just nowhere near her new glammy retro vibe washed in pastels.
To see where this new style direction came from and to find out more about what we can expect on the upcoming album (that will hit Stateside on July 17th), we sat down with this gem of a gal recently to get all the good dish. We also teamed up with our friends over at Ladygunn Magazine to get our hands on a few exclusive photos from a recent shoot she did with them for an upcoming issue, right here in New York City.
Check out the fun convo we had with Marina down below (like dishing about what designer she would love to see send models down the runway to a mash-up of her jams, and her slightly surprising choice on her dream celebrity prom date), and be sure to check out the exclusive feature in the slideshow above!
Susie G: Your much-anticipated second album is coming out in July, with your new single and video “Primadonna” already making the rounds–why not tell us a little bit about the new project? What inspired you during the making of the record and what surprises can we expect?
Marina and The Diamonds: Well, the album is called Electra Heart, with the main theme of it being love, but not in its typical form. It’s not like a typical breakup album, it’s very tongue in cheek. And, I mean, a lot of the visual inspiration has actually come from the American side of things again, with a very, very ’60s, ’70s kind of funky, kitsch motel culture. And…I guess all the kind of books and movies I was seeing were actually by either American authors or American directors. So it was like Paris, Texas, Valley of the Dolls, Sixteen Candles, and then on the books it was like Chuck Palahniuk, Cindy Sherman (who, actually, I really, really love). So there were like little bits, taken from all of that.
SG: Amazing, amazing. Well, we definitely love that you mention the whole ’60s vibe, because we def. see it a little bit in your recent stylings and the “Primadonna” video, which by the way, we think looks uh-mazing.
M: Oh, thank you.
SG: Just a bit of a random question–if a mash up of all of your songs from your second album were to be cut, and compiled into a five-minute soundtrack for a designer runway show, what designer could you see sending models down the catwalk to your jams and why?
M: Oh wow. Huh. That’s quite hard because some of it, like, I’m really inspired by the notion, not actually by bubblegum pop, but by the notion of bubblegum pop and of the idea of really girly pop stars. So half of it’s like that but then half of it’s really creepy, dark electronic music, so I’m just trying to think of a designer who would fit both worlds. Um, oh bollocks. I think maybe someone like British designer Henry Holland who’s very kind of funky, kitsch ’70s. He did that probably like three seasons ago, actually. It was very pretty, actually, which I really love, so possibly him or…
SG: Henry Holland would be great!
M: But yeah, I think Henry Holland, because he has that cutesy element as well, that I really love. It’s like innocence paired up with, kind of like a very womanly element as well, which is what I am.
SG: Love it. Love it. Also have to ask, since we’re beauty nerds over here–your eyes and your eyelashes in the “Primadonna” video look amazing. How do you get that look?
M: Well, you just go to the MAC store and you hand them 13 bucks and then voilà! It’s a strip of MAC lashes that you cut up and then you stick four on the bottom lashes and then you put a normal strip on the top. And it’s really weird because even though now my image for this second album is so pronounced and it’s really specific, it actually takes me a half an hour to get ready now, ‘cause I know exactly what to do. So it’s almost like a uniform, and it’s so much easier than the first album where every time I put on makeup I’d be trying out a new look and that always takes a little bit longer. So yeah, it’s actually a lot faster.
SG: What are currently some of your other go-to beauty essentials right now?
Marina: I really love cheap lipstick so whenever I come to the US I get like probably five tubes of Wet N’ Wild lipstick. I don’t know why, but Wet N’ Wild–it’s brilliant.
SG: Oh, we’re totes guilty of loving them too.
M: Yeah, especially the eyeliners. They’re like 4 or 5 bucks, like the ink eyeliners for example, so I always stock up on those. So yeah–waterproof eyeliner to draw the hearts on my cheek and then the bubblegum pink lipstick, which is MAC, and then, I guess the MAC eyelashes.
SG: That sounds like a good mix of awesome stuff right there! Since we’re already talking about your beauty look, what are currently some of your go-to sources for general style inspiration?
Marina: It’s a bit cliché but I love Marilyn Monroe. I think it’s hard not to reference her when you’re referencing femininity, and it’s especially kind of that early ’60s look (very much the hourglass look) and kind of accentuating the waist a lot, so probably her….[In general] I would say there are three women and they all start with M’s. There’s Madonna, Marilyn Monroe and Marie Antoinette, and those were the three references that I had put down on a list for my video [for “Primadonna”], so I hope I’ve kind of encapsulated them all.
SG: And you know what, you really have. That’s actually amazing. When you say it, I see it–I see the video in my head, and it makes perfect sense.
M: Yeah, and like even the name “Electra Heart”, I always wanted it to be a little bit pinup, a little bit drag queen. I wanted it [the album] to sound like a fancy name and [referring to her “M’s”] those were my three absolute, well, I wouldn’t say inspirations but, you know, definitely visual inspirations.
SG: Love it. I love it all. Staying on the style topic, what are some of your favorite trends you can’t wait to rock for the spring and summer seasons, like floral, color blocking, neons, etc.?
M: I think I’ll be staying with pastels for quite a long time.
SG: Nice. They do work well with you.
M: Yeah [laughs], with blonde hair they do, definitely. Definitely. From what I see in magazines and stuff, I think neons are coming back quite a lot, very bright colors for summer, but I don’t, I don’t know…I felt the first album was so pop art and really brash that I’ve kind of stepped away from that so I’ll probably be sticking to very soft, feminine colors.
SG: What are some other musical artists you’d like to collaborate with down the line?
M: Well, I like Madonna. Just putting it out there. And I really like Röyksopp, a band from, actually it’s Norway isn’t it. I was about to say Sweden–it’s Norway.
SG: I’d be a fan to see both of that happening, that’s for sure. You mentioned this a little bit earlier in our interview and I’ve seen the “Hollywood” video for sure, but you really seem to love America. I’d love to learn more of your ties with our home of apple pie and baseball, and what your favorite city/cities are?
M: My favorite city is New York, definitely. But I also really like the empty parts where…you know, like North Dakota. You just drive through and you see these really small towns that are like almost villages. We stayed in a place called Dickinson on the last American tour, and I really love that. I love like tumbleweed counties. The idea of that is really interesting to me because it’s very foreign to me having come from the UK. But quite honestly, I don’t know why I’m so connected to this country. It’s not anything to do with wanting to “break” America or anything success-oriented…I just feel really happy that I’m here. I like the people and I like that people are really sunny and that they have a kind of hope about things. I think that’s really ingrained in your culture–it’s like a sense of optimism. I like that. I think that’s good.
SG: Amazing. So you love New York, but you’re also a fan of the Midwest. I love it.
M: Yes! Exactly! I really am. Even like that whole Southern belle, debutante vibe, I love it as well.
SG: Cute, very cute. So kind of correlating with that, if you ever had the opportunity to go to an actual American high school prom, describe your outfit from head to toe and who would be your dream date to go with?
M: Oh my god. I would probably get an old wedding dress from a charity shop and kind of like sew ribbons in my hair, and then my ideal date would be George Clooney.
SG: What would be the color of your dress and what kind of color scheme would George Clooney be wearing, or even what designer would he be wearing?
M: My dress would be as like prissy and twee as you could absolutely get. Like I would just look like a massive cake basically. I would go to absolute town on it.
SG: Borderline Marie Antoinette-style a little bit?
M: Yeah, exactly. It would be ridiculous. And then, George Clooney would probably wear something like, oh I don’t know, he’d probably wear Armani or Dolce & Gabbana.
Don’t forget to check Marina & The Diamonds on her headlining tour this summer, starting July 10th, in addition to being a special guest with Coldplay for a few special dates!
Photographer: Shanna Fisher
Hair: Alberto Guzman
Makeup: April Greaves
Producer: Koko Ntuen