QUEER VOICES

Marina And The Diamonds Talks 'Electra Heart,' Beyonce, Homoerotic Video

03/11/2013 01:45 pm 13:45:26 | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Marina and the Diamonds (née Marina Lambrini Diamandis -- "and the diamonds" refers to her fans, not band members) released a live video for her single "How To Be A Heartbreaker" (click link to view) on March 8. The clip offers a glimpse of her upcoming "Heartcore" documentary, filmed during the Welsh singer's Lonely Hearts Club tour last year.

However, fans of the pop singer are experiencing a bit of deja vu. Marina first released a video for "How To Be A Heartbreaker," which is also going to be featured on "Glee" on Thursday, March 14, last fall (see the original video above).

The clip was initially held up due to what Marina, who drastically shifted directions -- at least aurally -- from slightly kooky folk pop to club-ready dance when she released her second album, "Electra Heart," nearly a year ago, referred to in a tweet as having to do with her looking too "ugly" in the video for her U.S. record company's tastes. Now, in a new interview, the singer reveals that the lukewarm reaction to "How To Be A Heartbreaker" by music video channels in America may involve issues with what she refers to as the video's "homoerotic" content.

Last week The Huffington Post caught up with Marina to discuss the "How To Be A Heartbreaker" drama, her thoughts on Beyonce's recent documentary, the struggle to maintain privacy as a star and more.

The Huffington Post: When we spoke in August 2012 you said, "When I first changed [the direction of my music] people said, 'She's sold out' and they totally didn't get the humor." After that interview was published you got some heat from the press in the UK. Do you think they misunderstood you?
Marina and the Diamonds: It was weird. Totally. The way that I saw it was that they were saying "Marina and the Diamonds says that fans didn't get 'Electra Heart.'" Fans did! They were the only ones who did. It wasn't even the mainstream press, it was the alternative press who were big supporters of me on my first album. So, it was kind of taken out of context but that always happens, so it's just like, whatever.

The album is almost a year old and is fairly deceptive in that it's pop, which some people write off as shallow, but you're dealing with these huge, messy, monolith ideas. When I was first listening to "Electra Heart" I was thinking a lot about power and control and sex but lately I've been honing in on what the songs are saying about authenticity and what's real and what's not real.
You have understood it very well. It's a confusing album to talk about. It's multi-faceted and multi-layered -- just like a person is. You have a lot of different thoughts going on at one time and that's what was going on when I was making it. But I think the idea of perception is really, really instrumental in a lot of the things I'm talking about in the songs but also just the whole image. It's really interesting to look back and realize that it is kind of weird that I created this character, who was basically constructed to make people like me. Because I thought Well, I wasn't a huge superstar after the first album, so, I've obviously done something wrong. And so part of that was for other reasons, but part of it was to try something else to see if that would work for me. And it has and it hasn't. It was kind of like taking the idea of selling out and turning it into an art project in a weird way. It was a lot about perception, definitely.

I've seen a lot of talk about how the first album was more "personal" than the second one, which, on first listen, I understand, especially considering you've discussed how you're playing a character. But I think when you spend more time with "Electra Heart" you realize that there is some really intimate stuff going on there. How much of you -- Marina -- did you put into the songs on "Electra Heart"?
Just like with future albums, I'll always be present because I'm writing it. How people see the first album is mostly the production and that feels a lot looser and a lot more schizophrenic. There was a lot more character that could be set free in it, whereas "Electra Heart" is a lot more restrained for a reason. And also because Dr. Luke produced the singles. He's not going to let me co-produce a record when he's had 22 hit singles. That's never going to fucking happen [laughs]. So, the production of the album was the main difference. It wasn't actually the songs themselves. They're very personal.

Ke$ha has a new reality show coming out on MTV and she's apparently shown drinking her own urine. It's just one, albeit extreme, example of how we're seeing more and more celebs going out of their ways to reveal -- if not real, then personal -- parts of their lives. I've been thinking about this new pressure to constantly be exposing one's self in the media and to fans. Do you feel the pressure to show more to satisfy that desire?
No way. It's interesting that you mention that because of the Beyonce documentary. I found it interesting that she felt -- not the need to do the documentary but that she felt, perhaps -- the need to reveal the "real" her. But it didn't really reveal anything. And I think it's interesting how many stars feel they should reveal "the real them" or feel that "the real them" isn't something that people know. But I just think they don't have to know you.

So, you're not worried about that?
Not at all! I think Beyonce is the best example of that. She's an incredible artist but we don't know that much about her. Everybody is different. Some people like to share more. I just wouldn't want to spoil someone's opinion of me by them knowing me as a person instead of an artist. Sometimes I feel that way about the artists that I love. I don't want them to become normal to me! [Laughs] I don't want to ruin that image that I have of them in my head. It's quite a struggle for people and people are still navigating their way around the Internet and trying to figure out how to use things like Twitter and social media.

It also made me think about the first line of your song "Sex Yeah" and how you sing "Nothing is provocative anymore." Because of that, stars are forced then to keep going further and further -- especially in what we could call a "post-Gaga era." Everything has been pushed so far, it seems like artists are constantly being forced to consider what they can do next to shock or titillate.
Totally. This is why I love pop culture and I love being a pop artist because you get to discuss things like this. I find it so interesting that after the whole Gaga thing, then comes Lana Del Rey, who does nothing and is completely fascinating! And that really signals a change in the times. And to be honest with you, I think it was a relief for a lot of artists. If that doesn't come naturally to you -- to be constantly provocative -- you don't really feel like you have to do that. The times have definitely changed.

I don't know if you were watching the Golden Globes when Jodie Foster came out but it launched this intense discussion about privacy and whether or not stars should expect privacy or if it's something that has to be sacrificed in exchange for fame.
I feel like everyone has the right to privacy, even if you're the most famous person in the world. But I also think to a certain degree you can have a hand in [encouraging it]. If you don't want to have your private life splashed everywhere, why go to the restaurants and the places you know you're going to be photographed? It's a really difficult thing for me. I grew up in a village in a two-bedroom bungalow. So, I'm not really part of that "LA thing" or that celebrity culture. I'm more like someone who observes it and I can't ever imagine being like that. The people who are in the public eye are the ones who court it the most. It's quite rare to see it the other way around unless something terrible happens to someone and they're faced with scandal.

You've become a public figure. Do you think success has changed you?
Meaning my career?

Yes, but also you. You read those crazy riders that stars have when they're on tour and all the things they demand. Like Lady Gaga supposedly requested a mannequin with pink pubic hair in her dressing room. Elton John asks for a separate hotel room just for his glasses. There is a rumor I've heard about a certain diva that claims she won't sit down on anything unless there's a white silk sheet spread over it. People get to a certain level and fame and money changes them. I'm wondering if you can see that in your own life. Or if you worry about that.
I feel like half of that is just rumors! Like the rider stuff, for example. Say you're on an arena tour. I went on one with Coldplay, so I've seen how it works. And it might not be a star saying "I will not sit on a couch unless there's a silk sheet" -- it's more that every day the dressing room is decorated the same way, and to be honest, they do look like shit. So anyone would ask for [their dressingroom to be decorated] if they're playing an arena or stadium. So, it's just funny how things are misconstrued. But for myself, you don't know if you've changed but I don't feel like -- I don't know. I don't feel like anything has really changed except I've grown up, as I would have even if I hadn't been a singer.

Can we talk about what the hell happened with the original "How To Be A Heartbreaker Video"?
[Laughs] It's so fucking ridiculous. At the moment in the U.S. they're having trouble getting it on music channels because they say it's homoerotic. And I'm like how rude and how ridiculous is that when girls, we put up with scantily-clad women grinding [in videos] and no one says, "This is totally lesbian and we can't have it on TV!" So I just don't see the problem. I think it's a complete double standard and it's ridiculous.

There also seemed to be an issue with getting it released in the first place. You tweeted that you were told you looked too "ugly" so the record company wouldn't give it the green light. What happened there?
Now that I look back, I think maybe they were just scared of the "homoerotic messages." So maybe it wasn't that but they said -- they didn't say I was "ugly" but they said, "You need some 'beauty work' done." And I asked, "What does that mean?" And they responded, "It looks like some of your skin tone needs to be evened out." And that's fine and totally normal in pop videos, but I said, "You need to give me the budget to do that. You don't tell me in the 11th hour." It's just typical.

And ironic considering what the album is saying about beauty culture.
It's amazing. [Laugh] But it's not like I have a beef with anyone. I just wasn't going to go on Twitter and lie and tell everyone, "Sorry. It's delayed for x, y, and z reasons." I think people want to know what actually happened.

You've said that you won't continue with the Electra Heart character or theme for your next album. Have you started writing your follow up? What direction are you going in?
I am writing some stuff but I just want to let myself do whatever I want for a while. I'm not really sure what direction I'm going to go in. But it's highly unlikely that it'll go in the direction of "Electra Heart."

Do you have more tracks from the "Electra Heart" era up your sleeve? You surprised everyone by releasing "E.V.O.L." on Valentine's Day. Do you have more treats planned?
[Laughs] Do you hope I do?

Duh.
[Laughs] I do have a few more. [Laughs]

Listen: You have a duty to release this stuff. It doesn't help anyone if you just keep it locked up in your private iTunes.
That's exactly what I think! It's not going to serve any purpose if I -- that whole "Electra Heart" concept is so concrete. I can't leave any of those songs behind and then use them later. So don't worry, anything I have, I'll make sure that they're publicly serviced [laughs].

Marina and the Diamonds is headed back out on the road in the U.S. in May. For a full list of tour dates, click here. For more info on Marina and the Diamonds, head to her official website and follow her on Twitter.

Also on HuffPost:

Straight Allies
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS