”I don't want to glamourize death”

Lana Del Rey in a big interview about having deathwishes, her relationship and why she changed her name

She puts her cigarette out, just a little bit too hard.

– Yes, sometimes I fucking wish I was dead, but I don't glamorize death or people killing themselves.

Markus Larsson and Lana Del Rey.
Markus Larsson and Lana Del Rey.

Klick here for Swedish version of the interview.

Lana Del Rey excuses herself, gets up and starts fiddling with the espresso machine in her hotel suite.

– Sorry, I can't do interviews without my coffee. Keep talking. I'm listening.

I've always wondered, why did you create the persona Lana Del Rey?

– Well, it's not a persona. It's a different name. I've always thought that the way you're kind of born into a name, a geographic location, a family makes it hard to choose for yourself who you want to be. By having a different name I felt more free to be exactly who I am. People seem to think sometimes that I am somebody on stage and then you get off and you're another person, but I have a more alternative way of thinking.

I thought it was some kind of art project, like a Ziggy Stardust character?

– Yeah, people think that but actually for me it was just a different name. It has made it easier for me to express a very clear aesthetic that I love.

So what was the inspiration for your aesthetic?

– All things dark and beautiful. Everything I love, everything I've been through, everything I've wanted to do. My history and my songs.

You seem rather interested in the beauty of darkness and despair.

– I've had despair and grief in my life. In the past four years journalists have always asked me about death, icons and my persona. My own depressions and experiences has gotten miscommunicated as this need to be dark. Actually it's not my preferred way of being. I love when things go really well. Anyone who knows me knows this.

But what about the interview in The Guardian…

– I'm not fucking happy about the interview, to start with.

Well, I know that, and you've made that clear on Twitter. But what did you mean when you said ”I wish I was dead already”?

– Well, first of all… the questions… Sometimes I do feel like I wish I was dead. I've been through a lot. And yes, sometimes I feel like I fucking wish I was dead. But The Guardian made it sound like I was obsessed with dying because it's glamourous. Me being depressed sometimes has nothing to do with other people wanting to kill themselves.

It must have been surreal when the daughter of your idol Kurt Cobain, Frances Bean Cobain, criticised you on Twitter?

– She was saying to me ”don't glamorize death” and I wrote back, and I never write to anyone, but I wrote back and said I didn't glamorize death. I don't even sing about death, except on the title track on ”Born to die”. I sing about relationships. The fact that the headline in The Guardian affected people that way feels unfair. That's the problem with the article.

Your computer got hacked a couple of years ago and 211 songs got stolen among other things.

– Yeah, someone remotely accessed my hard drive when I was staying in a hotel. The songs are one of a thousand things that was stolen.

I would have been devastated.

– Yeah, the fact that someone is watching you. Knowing that you never gonna have the luxury of discretion. These type of crimes won't ever stop.

Isn't there some legal action you can take, sue someone?

– Even if the people that started it got caught, they gave it to 40 other people, so the information is still out there.

Your life is always turned into headlines. Like the recent rumours about your recent relationship. It was said you had broken up, but now I heard that your boyfriend Barrien-James O'Neill told TMZ that it's complete bullshit.

– I mean… I… I didn't use to talk publicly about my relationships. Because things change all the time. But after not seeing him for several months and people still asking me about him I just said no we're not together right now. And when he got to Los Angeles today and he ran into TMZ I don't think he knew what to say. Sometimes it's not real until you're faced with a camera and somebody asking you.

Ok, it all seems a bit confused. Well, about the music…

– It's ok. I get it.

Back to the music. So… are you together?

– Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. (Lana basically rolls over laughing out loud)

– Oh my god, that's so funny.

I'm sorry, I'm just joking. Why do you mention The Crystal's controversial song ”He hit me (and it felt like a kiss)” in the title track on your new album?

– I know that people have different opinions about that song. And they're entitled to. I always use autobiographical elements. Mixed with anything I can use as an innuendo instead of saying something super directly. For me the writing comes first. I never felt the need to edit myself.

Hmm. What are you actually saying? That you have been in abusive relationships?

– It's a good question. I have trouble talking about that song, I didn't think I would. I don't know what to say.

Why did you choose to cover Jessie Mae Robinson's ”The other woman”?

– Firstly it's a jazz song, covered by Nina Simone, she's my favourite. I feel like ”Ultraviolence” has a jazzy feel to it, shades of blue, shades of cool. I'm a huge jazz fan. Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, the singers, you know.

What have you stolen from them, as a song writer?

To start with I was just a fan. But I realized early on that I had an inclination to sing songs in a minor key with a touch of a blue note. They are my influences. Alongside The Eagles and The Beach Boys.

Beautiful music with a dark heart.

Yeah, ”Dark heart”. That's the follow up album. (Laughs).