Lana Del Rey said she felt free to explore and experiment on her new album, Ultraviolence, following the negative reviews of her much-discussed debut, Born to Die, adding that that mindset allowed her to build a fruitful working relationship with producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.
“It sort of did well,” Del Rey told BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe of Born to Die. “But I still didn’t really know anybody, and I didn’t really feel like people liked it or understood it. What was interesting writing the second one was I was almost just as anonymous and free to explore as I was before, just because I still was kind of on the periphery.”
The pop singer added that teaming up with Auerbach at his Nashville studio allowed her to find new ways to be surprised by her music after working with the same producers for four years. “Dan was really a stranger to me. I didn’t know anything about him, but he was really casual and spontaneous,” she said. “So even though going off to Nashville doesn’t sound like a really exotic thing to do, for me it felt adventurous. I guess I didn’t know what we were going to get.”
The unlikely duo struck up a partnership after Del Rey played Auerbach an early version of the album, which she had recorded and produced at Electric Lady Studios in New York. While Auerbach said he understood the vibe she was going for, he invited her to come to Nashville to further flesh it out. While recording Ultraviolence was periodically rocky — early on, Del Rey admitted her muse was “very fickle” — she said that working with Auerbach helped her get her groove back.
“I guess at the point I met Dan, I didn’t feel that confident, and it sounds strange, but him being interested in me made me feel interesting again,” Del Rey said. “He was a guy and he treated me like this New Yorker girl who wanted to make a record and was just like, ‘Hey let’s see what happens.’ He was just in love with the songs. And that’s another thing: I think your producer has to be as in love with it and think that it could be a really big thing. Maybe not culturally, but for the both of you — it could be a milestone. For me, it was really Dan just being interested that made me feel really passionate about it.”
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Del Rey’s chat with Lowe — available in its entirety until Monday, July 14th — was far less morbid than other recent interviews. Back in June, she caused a minor stir when she told The Guardian, “I wish I was dead already,” when discussing deceased musicians like Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain. The remark even elicited a response from Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean, who admonished Del Rey for romanticizing dying young.
Del Rey, however seemed to be on the same page, placing the blame for the poor context surrounding the quote on the interviewer, and tweeting to Cobain, “The other half of what I said wasn’t really related to the people he mentioned. I don’t find that part of music glam either.”