What’s the biggest misconception about female pop stars? Marina Diamandis, the U.K. singer who makes music as Marina and the Diamonds, relishes the chance to answer this question: “That they can’t possibly be creating the art themselves — there must be a man behind it,” she laughs.
Three albums into a career that has brought her to some of the biggest stages in the world — including Lollapalooza, where we caught up with her in Chicago earlier this month — Diamandis is making the music she likes best: uncategorizable. And she’s doing it on her terms. “Electra Heart was a highly collaborative album and I didn’t produce any of it — that was something that I found a bit frustrating,” she tells us of her 2012 LP. “Whereas with Froot,” her latest album, which debuted in the U.S. Top 10, “I wrote it alone. . . and the sound is completely different.” She attributes the change, which includes more live instrumentation, to freedom. “I’d also been adhering to what my record label thought I should sound like,” she says. “I think they were very focused on the potential of me being a pop star, and that’s just not how I feel inside.”
We whisked Diamandis from an afternoon visit to the Art Institute of Chicago to Rolling Stone‘s own party, where the Diamonds performed a special acoustic set. (Watch above as she rehearses a stripped-down version of “Froot.”)
Winding down after the show, the singer mused on the large number of powerful women in the music world in 2015. “I think people are able to see female artists for what they are more now than say five years ago,” she says. ” If you think back to like, 2004, where it was very much like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton. . . that whole size-zero craze, I remember that was a time where it felt really terrible to be a young woman, and you didn’t really have many positive role models. Whereas now you have such a variety of women. It’s just important there isn’t one type of woman who’s celebrated.”
And despite having many strong opinions about the state of pop, Diamandis says the best thing about having fans isn’t the ability to monologue at them — it’s the dialogue that develops between the performer and her audience. “It’s not about people loving you or you receiving praise,” she tells us. “It’s more that you’re engaging in conversation and seeing what people think.”