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Article about Lizzy Grant/Lana Del Rey by old friends & David Nitchern

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#1 OFFLINE   Lisandro



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Posted 27 September 2017 - 04:25 AM

Just found this article on a French page about Lizzy Grant and her beginnings as Lana Del Rey.




I translated it with Google and there's a few mistakes, for example, it changes the word "her" to "his", but I'll post here anyways bc it could be interesting for some people like it was for me (: 


Lana Del Rey has released Lust for Life , her fourth album. A record where the American remembers her life before, when she was still only Lizzy Grant. A young student at Fordham University with a devastating charisma, at ease in a New Jersey mobile home, determined to become a "successful artist . " Thing promised due thing. A story of a young New Yorker who has been dreaming.
Aaron Peer talks about it with a chuckle. The embarrassed laughter of the one who saw nothing coming. "We were all four in a car to go from one movie set to another: Benham, Charlie, Lizzy and me . " In June 2010, in New Jersey, the small team then had only a few days to shoot what would be the last personal project of Aaron, a film student in New York: Poolside . More precisely, 12 minutes and 19 seconds of a short film that tells a slow drift involving two pool cleaners, a break-in, and a summer idyll by the chlorinated swimming pool of a large mansion. A classic short film for this graduate student. Except that in this simple journey, on an anonymous road of New Jersey, nothing was truly banal. At the front on the passenger seat, Lizzy, with fair hair and a candid look, offers the boys to put on music. "Lizzy then put his songs on and said, 'Hey, that's stuff I'm working on,' says Aaron, who only cares about music. I was mostly mentally building my film . " Benham Jones was on the trip as well. And his memory is a little more precise. "The first song Lizzy gave us that day in the box was 'Video Games'. The second, 'This Is What Makes Us Girls'. We all found his pieces very cool. But we obviously had no idea what was going to happen, " he said. Lizzy, who took control of the CD player from the passenger seat is no longer an unknown as Benham recalls: "It was Lizzy Grant. The one that was to become Lana Del Rey a few months later " .
How could the future US pop star, 25 years old at the time, have found herself playing in an amateur film with a budget of just 400 dollars? Perhaps because she had "loved the script" as Aaron said, who had spotted it with a pixelated video taken at the Mercury Lounge in New York some time before. Perhaps also thanks to her personality, and "the very specific way she had to speak," according to the same Aaron. And most of all because all of them were studying in the same buildings at Fordham University in the Bronx. Media and communication for Aaron, philosophy for Lizzy. The best speaker of the time is Benham Jones, producer of Poolside , and friend of the young woman: "At university she began to discover a lot of music: folk, shoegaze, punk. We listened to local bands such as Des Ark, Mirah, The Blow and Rainer Maria. She had been saying for a while that she wanted to make music . Benham is busy with an associative space on the campus of their college, the Rodrigue's Coffee House. "Lizzy often came with her guitar and she was playing songs for us," he said. It is in this improvised concert hall that an audience will hear for the first time titles like "Yayo" or "Kill Kill".
The queen of the sofa
June 2007. Brooklyn, New York. Van Wilson passes a head in one of the many songwriter contests that swarm in the Williamsburg neighborhood. He is then headhunter for the indie label 5 Points Records. When it was the turn of the young Lizzy Grant, author of a demo-album called Sirens in 2005 under the pseudonym May Jailer, to present her texts in the club of Northsix in the framework of the Williamsburg Live Songwriting Competition, his telephone. David Nichtern, the label's owner, remembers: "We signed a contract with her in June. She told me 'I want to be a successful artist' " . Much more assured in his remarks than in his first performances on stage, according to his first producer. "The first time we met her, she played the guitar with only two fingers," he smiled. Why sign the young artist so quickly then? David Nichtern does not hesitate for a second: his charisma. "When I saw her, it was a bit like seeing the hidden girl of Leonard Cohen and Marylin Monroe. She had something very feminine and theatrical that I did not often see, so much so that I had even thought of proposing her to my contacts in the cinema if she did not break into music . He draws a relentless argument, proof by three: "1 - She was charismatic. 2 - She knew it. 3 - She was convinced to become a great star. And she was right . "
She composed these first songs between her mobile home in New Jersey in which she had decided to live, and the apartments of friends where she sometimes failed, like that of Benham. In 2012, she rewound with chuckling: "My mother nicknamed me the 'Queen of the sofa' at that time . " Thanks to a $ 10,000 advance by 5 points, she has to set up a first album and tour New York's small halls. Problem, it is not facing a public that Lizzy feels most comfortable. Still in 2012, she even explained that she was "writer before being a stage singer. To go on stage is against my nature, I am not an exhibitionist . " It will, however, run counter to nature, the bars and open mics of New York for several years. After four good years of galley, without seeing her career take off, the young woman is thinking of making a 180 degree turn. While his first album is finally ready to go out (in general indifference) in January 2010, Grant asks at the last minute to David Nichtern to add the pseudo Lana Del Ray (with an "a") on the cover. A few weeks later, she contacted him to change his name to Lana Del Rey (with an "e"). Before you simply ask that the disc be removed from the market. "Lizzy then told us that she wanted to change the disc and add some songs while we loved it as it was. We had an artistic disagreement, " recalls David Nichtern. He sighed, plunged into his bad memories: "It was a quite special time. She wanted to change her music, change her name, change her manager ... "
The new phase of his career will finally begin. The arrival of a duo of English managers, Ben Mawson and Ed Millet, met a few months ago, will change the situation. "Once she signed with her English managers, Lizzy began working on new songs," says David Nichtern. She was going in a new direction with a much larger sound than her album was about to release . Hence his request to remove his first disc from the circulation that no longer corresponded to him, according to her. When David Nichtern evokes the episode, everything seems to have finally ended amicably: "I am also a musician and producer, and I always wanted to leave a total artistic freedom to my artists. So I told him 'do what you want to do' and we signed a contract to leave in good terms . Lana Del Rey is more critical: at Nylon magazine in 2012, she will present 5 Points Records as a label where "it was not happening" while she will express other reproaches to GQ the same year: "My first album was was completed in 2008. But my label waited three years to get it. They thought a record company would buy it but it did not happen. So they took it out themselves. Except that I had moved on to something else . " So far from the bars and open mics of New York.
Between London and New York
Before launching this shift more public, Lizzy tried a little detour by the cinema. And Poolside , then. The director Aaron Peer and his friends remember a detail: the songs that the future Lana Del Rey makes them listen to on the CD player of their car did not come from America, but from Europe. "They had been registered in London," says Aaron Peer. "She did not really live in New Jersey at the time," said Benham Jones. She traveled back and forth between London, New York and Los Angeles . Lizzy Grant has been released for a few months on a new sofa: his manager Ben Miller, in the English capital, to work on new tracks with different producers (Justin Parker, Chris Braide, Biff Stannard ...) in studios loaned by the label Sony ATV. On Twitter and Facebook at the end of 2010 and in 2011, the young woman alternates between quotations from John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, and messages in which she expresses her enthusiasm to work with several producers in London. As the Dazed magazine Justin Parker tells, "Sony had a studio to compose that they lent us, but not on weekdays because I was nobody and neither was it at the time. So we were composing songs on Saturday afternoons out there when she could come from New York . " It is during these sessions that she will write in February 2011 "Video Games" in the presence of Justin Parker before tweeting the words a few weeks later in general indifference.
Lana and producer Chris Braide In the corridors of Universal, one begins to speak of the young woman: the American major will try to introduce the singer to the general public by proposing to Mando Diao, a pop group of Swedish renowned in his country, invite the singer at one of their acoustic concerts for MTV at the end of 2010. For several days, the New Yorker joined them in their studio in the suburbs of Stockholm. "Universal was already talking a lot of it internally back then," the group recalled. It was based in London and they were trying to market it all over Europe. We were looking for young talents for our MTV Unplugged and they came to us to offer us a collaboration with it . In the same way, the Guardian's musical editorial team receives nineteen titles of the singer "made with different producers" sent by "his team" at the beginning of 2011, without further details.
What is the basis for accusations of the artist's manipulation by a major at the beginning of his career? Those who have known Lizzy Grant in his younger years say the opposite. "There really was a big misunderstanding when we began to say that it was ridden from scratch by a label at the time of Video Games," says his former collaborator David Nichtern. He looks amused: "For working with her, I can tell you that he is an extremely stubborn and obstinate person who reflects on all aspects of his art . " Benham Jones, who has seen her evolve since her debut, does not say the opposite from New York: "Yes, Lana was surrounded by producers at the time of its explosion. But they just helped her assert her world because technically she was not a seasoned musician . " He adds: "But what should not be forgotten is that it was she, all alone in her New York room, who invented a mythology around the character Lana Del Rey with her music and videos on iMovie " . Memories of his young years return. "When 'Born To Die' came out, people said she could not sing, she'd been up and down, blablabla ... It made me crazy to hear that: I knew Lana's music was the craziest thing I'd seen in the coffee shop at Fordham University . " Crazy, and lucrative, too: more than five years after its release in 2012, Born To Die is still the fourth album of the decade most present in the charts.

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#2 OFFLINE   Clampigirl


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 09:24 AM

It might be interesting, I'll read it when I come back home - thanks! ♥


Edit: Wow, cool, so they actually interviewed the people who worked with Poolside? To talk about who Lana was back then... how did they find them, haha?

It was interesting, but it doesn't really fill in any gaps that we have (I think?). Thanks once again for sharing! :kiss:

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#3 OFFLINE   NamiraWilhelm


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 09:26 AM

I didn't know TIWMUG was as old as VG. Love the mention of the sampler! This is really great insightful stuff, thanks for sharing. And thanks for the person that wrote this and investigated!

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#4 OFFLINE   stargurl



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Posted 27 September 2017 - 04:08 PM

Thank u for sharing lisa!

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