If you haven’t heard of Marina Diamandis, it’s okay, you will soon enough. The Welsh singer of Greek descent and face behind MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS knows she isn’t a notorious public figure, but she acknowledges she can become one. BBC knows this and so does most of North America along with her diverse band of followers. During one of her first interviews with Canadian press, the extraordinary songstress discussed American pop music, celebrated vocalists and her complex yet cherished relationship with her keyboard.
In today’s music world, it’s difficult to target artists whose voice overpowers the music at their side. Do you know of any vocalists who share that quality with you?
Similar to me? Hmm.. maybe Brody Dalle of The Distillers. Joanna Newsom is another artist who has very unique vocals. I’m not too sure as there are a few, but not a lot that really stand out.
What about Robert Plant or Bob Marley?
Yes, they are very distinctive! Daniel Johnston is another artist with a unique voice. The reason why these artists are so popular is because it’s easy to recognize the voice. They’re born with it. Sometimes you can’t control it though, it can be a blessing or a curse. The mainstream can restrict it at times but you always win in the end.
Describe what it was like working with your music teacher when you were younger.
Well I started singing when I was 19 so I don’t know which teacher you’re talking about as I didn’t have one. I always wanted to sing in the choir but I was too shy to go out and do it. I think I know who you’re talking about though. A tabloid went to one of my old schools and a teacher shouted out to them “I always knew Marina would be famous!” (laughs). That must be him!
There’s something about you UK singers; you and Florence Welch have very distinctive vocals and a knack for unusual indie pop. Did your talent derive from the lifestyle in Wales?
I guess so. Singing has practically been a part of Welsh culture for many years now. There is something relaxing about the countryside. But it’s almost like Greece and how art is a major part of the country’s culture. It’s natural to the people in the area.
You two also seem to have an obsession with singles as your fifth one will be released in October.
Alright, alright, it’s true (laughs). No one’s really gotten me yet though. Like I’m well known on an international scale but I’m not as big in the UK as you think because people know me and their music scene is quite different. The Top 20 is one big auto-tune and I don’t fit in there. My lyrics aren’t the same as they are very different. I’m really just excited to do another music video, so f*ck it (laughs).
Speaking of obsessions, your track of the same name is very delicate yet powerful when you perform the rendition on the piano. Have you ever thought of releasing acoustic material?
That’s really weird as I’ve definitely thought about releasing acoustic music. There’s going to be a lot of it on the next album for sure. The thing about me as a musician is I like touring, meeting fans and doing all that sort of stuff, but I love recording music. Just the feeling you get and how it makes you want to be heard.
Since you and the keyboard go way back, how would describe your relationship with the instrument?
I’m still using the same shitty one I’ve had for the past five years (laughs). It weighs about 100 pounds and I got it at a catalogue store. I don’t want to disrespect it, but it’s become more of a necessity as it’s now a tool for my voice.
Why do you think so many songwriters become attached to them?
I think it has to do with tone. Same goes with any instrument, like look at the electric guitar. It’s sort of a neutral base to compose on and it matches a lot of moods.
Are they any instruments you’ve created bonds with while writing new material?
The ukulele! For about five minutes.. then I stopped (laughs). I did try a bit work with the organ as I love the sound of it. But I mainly worked with the good old Casio.
You’ve said before your songwriting is created on a personal level as it derives from experiences. How do you usually transfer your thoughts to paper and melodies?
It takes time. I write the lyrics first and to be honest, I don’t know how the rest happens. It just comes out. I sit down at a piano and go on with it. American pop music is so different and calculated. For artists, it comes out of these detailed writing sessions with so many different people and they take forever. Music is suppose to be organic, not focused on being f*cking massive. I don’t want to point out names and get into that sort of trouble, but we all know those people. Those prefer what’s electronic, music without a human touch.
What would the world be like if there weren’t artists that didn’t put emotion in their music?
There would be no point for music. Simple as that. The world is changing though and it’s focusing on the composition of music itself. It doesn’t seem like it but it is. The drinking and how much money you make is becoming less important.
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