Interviewer: Lana, in a recent interview you stated that when you write songs you are either documenting something present or looking ahead to the future and dreaming. So are you a dreamer?
Lana Del Rey: Absolutely. I think that dreams are as important as reality. I learned that from the author Charles F. Haanel who wrote a book named “The Master Key System”. I still remember when I was really young and dreamt about my future. This imagined future kept manifesting itself more and more to reality. This manifestation is very important for imagining your inner world and believing in your dreams.
Interviewer: Do you sometimes want to deliberately leave reality?
Lana Del Rey: Sometimes, but I feel like my dreams are really close to reality because they are so real. Many of them actually became real even though in a little stranger way than I was thinking.
Interviewer: In contrast to you debut album “Born To Die” your new album “Ultraviolence” sounds more vulnerable. The listener can literally hear the pain in some of your songs. Why did this album turn out so melancholic?
Lana Del Rey: I think that for all the good and beautiful things that have happened to me in the last three years there is also some bitterness. Some experiences I went through had a sad or difficult undertone. I think that very often I had been misunderstood. Additionally I had to deal with some personal difficult things in my life. Certain things which I didn’t have under control really put a strain on me and have heavily influenced the sound of the album which here and there is quite heavy. There is this certain heaviness on the album but I didn’t try to make it sad on purpose.
Interviewer: Is the song “Sad Girl” autobiographical? Are you describing yourself as a sad girl in it?
Lana Del Rey: Well, I’m half kidding and playing with clichés. Perhaps I’m a bit sarcastic in it. But the song has an impelling jazz vibe and in a certain way it actually is autobiographically influenced.
Interviewer: Does it sometimes feel painful for you when you’re writing really personal lyrics and you’re coming to terms with the past in your songs?
Lana Del Rey: No, actually it’s great fun and a relief for me. It is indeed painful to talk – after the songs are finished – with people who consider you as an inspiration and might be disappointed from you. Then you’re trying to explain yourself and that’s damn hard and even painful.
Interviewer: In “Cruel World” you are coming to terms with the end of a long relationship. So it’s really not difficult for you to write lyrics like that?
Lana Del Rey: No, I think that the world is cathartic. In this song I dip into this catharsis, there’s a lot of beauty and reflexion in it. Maybe it saddens you when you’re listening to the song but actually it is not supposed to have this effect.
Interviewer: What exactly do you mean by “Ultraviolence”? This title seems quite aggressive.
Lana Del Rey: I love words with great force of expression. Words which immediately stick in one’s mind. I’m also influenced by certain people and with “Ultraviolence” I wanted to create a world that fits the context of the word. However, I had the title even before the album. I love to pick out words and build something around them. It’s a strong word and this is immensely important for me.
Interviewer: Since your fulminant appearance on the stage of pop you have been criticised from all sides. How do you deal with it?
Lana Del Rey: Not so well, to be honest. When it comes to this I’m not really different from any other human – not everything leaves me cold but it’s getting easier every day. When critics talk about my family they might be clarifying something because for me that’s an absolute taboo zone. When people say that my music is boring I perceive it as an insult because everyone who is criticising my music is criticising me as a person right in my face. It’s often a pure judgement without going a bit deeper and thinking what might be behind it. All in all I would say that it really touches me but upsets me less from day to day. It also depends on how important the medium is. If it’s a very important one but completely wrong then it does bother me.
Interviewer: You take it even more personal then?
Lana Del Rey: I really care a lot about my songs as well as the heritage and history of my entire music. I’m always trying to protect my new and old songs as best I can. That’s why I’ll take it very personal then.
Interviewer: What mood do you need to write songs?
Lana Del Rey: I need to have fun. That’s also the reason why the album was produced by Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys. I met him at a club and noticed that he is a really relaxed and cool guy. He definitely brought much spontaneity into the album. I would like to participate in a song of the Black Keys and I’m a huge fan. Let’s see if something arises.
Interviewer: The special thing about your songs is that in contrast to almost all other material which are heading to the charts they neither have any electronic elements nor a party factor in them. Why are you nevertheless so successful?
Lana Del Rey: From this point of view you could really say that I’m very lucky. I’m making exactly that kind of music I enjoy listening to when I’m driving in my car or putting on a vinyl in my house in the evening. It’s important to me that music creates a special mood and that it is atmospheric. The criticism is mostly really mean but I’m lucky that I’ve come this far. At the end of the day you are only happy if you did what is fun for you – I’m having this feeling. I like more boppy and upbeat music as well but I’m just a more reflective and pensive person. Therefore my music is slower too.
Interviewer: You recorded the album in different cities. Was this depending on your mood or was it just because of production reasons?
Lana Del Rey: It was mostly for production. I started in California together with Rick Nowels because I had already written “Summertime Sadness” and “Dark Paradise” with him – now “West Coast”. I wrote the lyrics and the melodies and he did the chords. I produced the album myself in the Electric Lady Studios in New York and when I met Dan Auerbach we went to Nashville.
Interviewer: You just said for writing songs you need to be in a good mood. But one of your songs is called “Pretty When You Cry”. So do you only feel pretty when you are crying?
Lana Del Rey: No, a guy once told me this when I was angry and I shed some tears. I didn’t really like that he had said this to me but it was the perfect sentence for a song title.
Interviewer: With the song “Money Power Glory” you’re attacking the critics of your first album in a sarcastic way.
Lana Del Rey: A bit, yes. The song is one and a half years old, therefore it’s the oldest one on “Ultraviolence”. The song emerged in a time when I was really frustrated by the external world. Some people confined themselves to relating me to money. I had that much luck and power so there was a negative connotation in terms of shame but not glory. I didn’t want to be seen like that but at the same time I knew that I had to accept it. I think that this song is my version of being aggressive. But it’s not a direct aggression, I’m rather playing with metaphors. At the same time, concerning song writing I always thought that the whole thing isn’t worth the anger because I don’t like being sarcastic. However this song just had to be simple.
Interviewer: What have you learned in this shark tank of music industry in the last few years after having risen that fast?
Lana Del Rey: What I learned was that even beforehand I used to be different and nothing has changed about it. Just like I’m sitting here I know more about why people don’t like me or my music. When I was like 20 years old and I wrote songs I was invisible. I came from an alternative background and didn’t have to deal with bad reports. When people increasingly started to listen to “Born To Die” and the album became more and more popular, they probably thought: “Who the hell does she think who she is? If she wants to be influencing she should at least be more inspiring.” My music was never supposed to get popular anyway that’s why it has never been pop music. It’s rather alternative music. I think that this bothered many people because the expectations didn’t meet at all. But above all I’m writing for myself and therefore I have nothing to do with the stories which are written about me. There’s now a complete separation to my public life.
Interviewer: Is it sometimes difficult for you to be that famous?
Lana Del Rey: Sometimes. Because truth is, what people actually think about you. Truth is, what people think they know about you. It’s difficult to live my life normally if I’m already categorized for many. Seen from a psychological point of view it’s really crazy. But well, it’s okay.
Interviewer: How do you relax from all that strain and trouble that your job and fame bring along?
Lana Del Rey: There are two things I truly love. On one hand I really enjoy going to concerts. I recently saw Courtney Love at Troubadour. I also saw Guns N’ Roses, KISS, Mötley Crüe and The Who. You know I’m a rock girl. And I like being at the beach and I love California. Those two things bring me down really quickly.
Interviewer: How long does it take until you’re completely content with a song?
Lana Del Rey: It doesn’t necessarily depend on the time but on how the lyrics look like, how I sing certain passages and how the melody fits. If you’re considering all that it actually took two and a half years. Some songs like “Cruel World” or “Pretty When You Cry” have been done really quickly, on others I’ve been working for more than a year.
Interviewer: Are you feeling more comfortable now on stage when you’re doing a live show?
Lana Del Rey: Yes, I’m feeling much more comfortable now. At the beginning I used to be very shy but with experience, with every single concert has gotten better and better. The audience is always very receptive and happy. When I’m beginning the show with my back turned to the audience and making my warm-up like that they are already singing along loudly and supporting me. They just don’t care that I’m not that extravagant and mega excited.
Interviewer: Finally: When are you planning to present your album in Europe?
Lana Del Rey: I hope that I can present the album everywhere next year. I can’t say much more right now.