MARINA & THE DIAMONDS IN NEW YORK, MARCH 2015. PHOTOS BY HAO ZENG. STYLING BY ALPHA VOMERO/SEE MANAGEMENT. HAIR: KAT ZEMTSOVA USING AMIKA HAIRCARE. MAKEUP: STEFANIE WILLMANN FOR SEE MANAGEMENT USING RMS BEAUTY.
During her Electra Heart phase in 2012, Marina Diamandis hid behind costumes and theatrical shows. With the Marina and the Diamonds’ latest release, however, the girl behind the music finally feels like herself again. The singer-songwriter’s third studio album, FROOT (Neon Gold/Atlantic), presents thematically darker songs than those heard on her sophomore effort; in certain ways, FROOT even returns to her debut 2010 album, paying sonic and lyrical homage to The Family Jewels.
At the age of 29, the musician has admittedly grown up a bit—something that’s reflected in her music. Diamandis touches upon topics, such as death, that don’t often surface in daily conversation. But no matter how dark tracks may be, Diamandis retains her own sense of happiness. Just after the relese, we spoke with the musician about playing the role of Electra Heart and trading her blonde locks in favor brunette.
ILANA KAPLAN: How did you come up with FROOT spelled in such a funny way for the title?
MARINA DIAMANDIS: I’ve been asked this quite a lot and I tend to give a different answer every time. There wasn’t really much to it: I liked the way it looked, I liked that it was playful, and the syntax. I wanted to give the album a name that had no previous connotations—it was able to have its own identity.
KAPLAN: It reminds me of Fruit Loops. With that idea of playfulness, there is also a contrast of darkness that appears on the record. Why is FROOT a bit darker than your previous records?
DIAMANDIS: It’s weird because it was not a big ambition for me. I think of the album as being very positive, but I know that people have been saying the album is quite dark. I’ve always toyed with that, and I’ve always been interested in subject matters that aren’t necessarily dark for me, but truthful—things we don’t normally talk about in person. In Electra Heart, I dealt with similar themes, but with FROOT it’s a lot more direct.
KAPLAN: What do you mean about subject matters you don’t talk about in person?
DIAMANDIS: For example, for myself, a song like “Immortal,” which deals with mortality—I probably wouldn’t have that conversation with friends. I probably wouldn’t hear a lot of songs on the radio with the same subject matter. It talks about death and how we relate to it. It talks about things that we think about that aren’t that strange or dark—they’re universal issues.
KAPLAN: On the subject of death, was there a catalyst for that theme appearing on the record?
DIAMANDIS: Not really, no. I know someone who’s ill, but I think that subject was in my mind anyway. It wasn’t really about anything in real life.
KAPLAN: Your style has really evolved over the past few years. How do you feel like it’s changed throughout the course of your records?
DIAMANDIS: For the last record, I created a character for Electra Heart. A lot of that album was very much dealing with a sassy and girly aesthetic. So that kind of colored the whole year with floppy, pink glitter, which I very much enjoyed. Now, I’m 29 years old, and it’s very natural to evolve, especially with this album because it sounds so different. With this one I’ve been referencing more ’70s stuff, a lot of suits, actually. All of them are quite feminine though—something that makes me feel quite feminine and strong is what I’m into.
KAPLAN: Did you feel like you were acting throughout the whole period of Electra Heart?
DIAMANDIS: I think Electra Heart was very much an amplified version of myself—it was a very theatrical, very camp performance. It’s definitely a part of me, but it was a very cartoonized version of myself. With FROOT, it felt more enjoyable, in some ways, because it was more natural and I wasn’t pretending to be someone else.
KAPLAN: What song do you think sums up FROOT, and what’s your favorite track right now on the record?
DIAMANDIS: I think “Happy” sums up the album, and I think my favorite tracks at the moment are “Can’t Pin Me Down” and “Savages.”
KAPLAN: Did you prefer being blonde or brunette?
DIAMANDIS: [laughs] Oh, brunette all the way. I’m glad I did it. Blonde was fun, but it fell out within three months. Something tells me nature doesn’t want me to be blonde.
KAPLAN: My hair couldn’t hold it either… During the period of 2012 to 2014, were you fully working on music or did you take a break?
DIAMANDIS: I was always working on it. I think mid-2012 onwards I started to write FROOT. The way I write is quite complex; it would take quite a while to finish our songs. I’m not writing every day. I do about two days a month. If I’m not ready to say something or I don’t know what I’m going to say, I take my time. I completed the writing after about a year and a half. The whole thing for me is long.