Lana Del Rey
RS 1150

Q&A: Lana Del Rey

Explore 2012

The singer on her controversial 'SNL' performance, getting sent to boarding school and loving Biggie

By |

JUST 36 HOURS AFTER THE the most polarizing Saturday Night Live performance in recent memory, Lana Del Rey is in New York, eating a cookie. "I actually felt good about it," she says. "I thought I looked beautiful and sang fine." But it's clear that Del Rey has been rattled by the overwhelming Internet vitriol hurled her way after her awk­ward renditions of two tunes, including the breakout single "Video Games." Del Rey's ace in the hole: her debut LP, Born to Die, which blends sweeping orchestral arrangements and hip-hop beats with confessional lyrics about partying and unhealthy relation­ships. "Now my life is sweet like cinna­mon," she sings on standout cut "Radio." "Like a fuckin' dream I'm livin' in."

How did it feel to sing on live TV?
It felt OK. The cast and crew said they loved it. I know some peo­ple didn't like it, but that's just the way I perform, and my fans know that.

Are you comfortable on stage?
I'm nervous. I'm not a natural performer or exhibitionist. When I was younger, I hated the focus, and it made me feel strange.

The backlash to that performance has been pretty harsh.
There's backlash about everything I do. It's nothing new. When I walk outside, people have something to say about it. It wouldn't have mattered if I was absolutely excellent. People don't have anything nice to say about this project. I'm sure that's why you're writing about it.

Have I given you the impression that I don't like your music? I do! Especial­ly the song "Radio."
No. I don't know how you feel about it. It's not easy to gauge how people feel about it. I don't really want to go into it. But thank you, I love "Radio" too.

When was the first time you stepped onstage?
I was the littlest orphan in Annie when I was three.

What was the first music you loved?
We didn't have a TV, so I remember seeing Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" video when I was 11, at a party at my mom's friend's house. There was just something about the look in Kurt's eye that made me feel like I knew what he was feeling, like I could relate to him. I still listen to Nirvana most days.

In your song "Blue Jeans," you sing, "I grew up on hip-hop." Did you?
I really loved Eminem. And in high school, my English teacher introduced me to Biggie Smalls. I loved "Me & My Bitch."

Do you have a big record collection?
I'm more of a singles person. I love the Beach Boys'"Fun, Fun, Fun," Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" and Nina Simone's "The Other Woman." And hearing Bob Dylan's "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" for the first time was a revelation. I watched Don't Look Back a lot and read the biography by Anthony Scaduto. Like everyone else, Bob floors me.

Where did you write "Video Games"?
In London. I was with Justin Parker, one of my producers, and I just start­ed humming and freestyling over that progression of chords. It took me about 10 minutes, maybe. We knew we had something special. It was the perfect song for me — it was me in song form.

In your song "Off to the Races," you mention cocaine, Bacardi chasers and cognac. Do you drink much?
I've been clean for some time now. I haven't had a drink in many years, but I used to. Back when I was drinking a lot, I got in trouble and was sent to boarding school. But I straightened out after that.

Lyrics about taking some­one's body "downtown" appear twice on the album. What does that mean?
It has a couple of mean­ings. One is, "Let's go out, let's go downtown!" And the other is... [Laughs] That's it.

From The Archives Issue 1150: February 16, 2012

More from this issue

RS 1150

Add a Comment