Lana Del Rey Interview
Let me ask you a question, do you like my music or not?
It was only in August this year that Pitchfork's "Hollywood sadcore" darling Lana Del Rey put her first single, 'Video Games', up on YouTube, but apparently that's equivalent to a century in Internet time. Millions of pageviews later and I'm being subjected to 'Video Games' or 'Blue Jeans' playing from my housemate's iPhone on a daily basis, but that's not why I wanted to interview LDR. She has that haunted, retro, sepia-toned sultriness thing down to a T, and I wanted to see if she could keep it up for a 20-minute telephone conversation. We only ended up speaking for 17 minutes because she became very keen to stop the conversation early due to my interesting "vibe", but all of those minutes were very, very strange.
Hannah Ongley: Hi Lana, how are you?
Lana Del Rey: I'm good, how are you?
Good! I don't know whether to call you Lana or Lizzie, can I call you Lizzie?
Sure. You can call me whatever you want, honey.
Have you changed your name legally, or are you still Lizzie to your friends?
Oh, that's a good question. No, I went down to the courthouse and I don't know, I don't have that many friends, so it depends? Some of them call me Lana and some of them call me Lizzie.
Why don't you have many friends?
No, I do have friends; I have really good friends... yeah, I do. Some of them call me Lizzie, some of them call me Lana.
You probably get asked this all the time, but are your lips real?
Yes, they are.
Wow. Would you ever get plastic surgery?
What would you get?
[Laughs] What would I get? Ummm, I don't know.
How important do you think it is as a pop star to have a complete look – outfit, hair, video aesthetic?
It just depends on what you like, I guess. It depends on who you are. I was a writer for a long time and then I started singing. And then when I was 18 I started sort of editing different visuals together, splicing my face into them. So, I think it really depends on the person.
Is that when you moved to New York? When you were 18?
Yeah, that was when.
What was that like?
Well, I was born there, and I moved to the country when I was really young. So I was ready to get back to New York; it's definitely the love of my life and I consider it my home. I've been there for about eight years now.
It's an amazing city.
It's so beautiful.
What did you do for work while you trying to break into singing?
I did a couple of things, I did a website called Craigslist and I would just sort of look online for $100 jobs. Like, people will pay you $100 to do different things around the house or drive someone to New Jersey.
That's pretty brave. You can find some fucked-up stuff on Craigslist. How did you know which ones were legit?
I mean, you often don't know until you get there.
Did you ever get into trouble with that?
[Laughs] If I did, I wouldn't tell you! Let me ask you a question, do you like my music or not?
Well, I like the video for 'Video Games'. I mainly I just find you very interesting.
I'm just trying to get your general vibe.
Cool. What sort of music do you like?
Well, I like only a couple of things. I've pretty much listened to Nirvana ever since I found them, which wasn't until I was about 18. I like Eminem, I like sixties music, and I have a couple of movie soundtracks that I really like listening to just, like, sound scores.
I like Thomas Newman's scores, so American Beauty?
American Beauty is fantastic. And you like Eminem?
Yeah, I like Eminem. I've just been thinking about him more because people always ask me about hip-hop, so I don't know.
It might have something to do with the "gangsta Nancy Sinatra" thing.
I mean, I never said that to anyone. It was just on my YouTube page and people found that and started using it, so?
Is it still there, or did you delete it?
Ummm, I don't know. I'm going online right now to look at it. Let's see? No. It just says "dope" [laughs].
OK, so you're not "gangsta Nancy Sinatra" any more. Just Lana Del Rey.
Do you like Kreayshawn?
I've only heard 'Gucci Gucci'.
Do you think you're similar in that you like making your own videos for YouTube?
She makes her own videos?
Yeah well, she probably had some help, but she edited videos for other rappers and stuff before she was famous.
How old is she?
She's, like, 21 or 22 [Kreayshawn is 22].
Oh. That's cool.
So, do you like "gangsta" music?
I like hip-hop, but I don't know if I'd call it gangster music; I mean, I don't want to get shot. I like hip hop the same way everyone else does.
What about your own brand of music? You originally called it Hollywood sadcore. Is that like emo?
I don't know, what's emo?
You know, the kids with eyeliner and black hair.
I don't know? I feel like you're going to write a really fucked-up article about me. I'm a little nervous.
You're nervous? What's the worst thing anyone's ever written about you?
I don't know. There's a lot of stuff out there.
What would you do if I did write something really mean?
Nothing? I dunno [laughs], come to Australia and kill you?
But surely everyone would find out, because you're famous! And now I have it on a recording, so you can't anyway.
So what about your newer songs? After 'Blue Jeans' you did 'Kinda Outta Luck' and 'Born to Die', and there are some really dirty lyrics in there – like, "Let me fuck you hard in the pouring rain." Would you have put stuff like that in your original songs?
Well, my first songs were pretty autobiographical, so it's not that big a jump for me. I talked about a lot of stuff in my first record, so it's not a big departure.
I always thought you were innocent! Maybe it's your big eyes.
I think that depends on what you consider to be innocent.
What about other new music? Are there any other artists that you really like right now?
I really like a band called Kassidy, from Scotland, and I like this band that are sort of my friends well, they are my friends called Carney. That's just two contemporary bands. But I like a lot of different kids of music.
What about dubstep?
Any electronic music?
I guess if I'm dancing.
Do you go out a lot, or do you try to keep it low-key?
Actually, I haven't been to a club since I was about 17. I don't go out a lot. I don't know, I'm getting an interesting vibe from you, I feel like you really don't like my music.
Don't you think it's a good thing that your music causes a bit of contention?
Well, that's a good question, but I don't really know the answer yet.
I think you should have a few people that are on the edge.
I mean, I'm not a very controversial person in my own personal life, so it's not something I'm personally interested in. I think we should just end this because, I don't know. I feel like you don't really like it.
OK then. Thanks for your time.
Lana Del Rey's debut album, Born to Die, is out 3 February 2012 through Universal, and she will be touring Australia to celebrate.