Jump to content

Les Inrocks 2017 - Full English Interview

Recommended Posts

You haven’t released anything since Honeymoon in 2015. How do you know or feel when you are ready for a new album?

My problem is not to begin, it is to stop. Even when I think I am done with an album I continue to create, I always want to add one more song, and again one more. If I am not occupied with mixing in the end of the creation of an album, I continue to write. For example, two songs from the new album were composed during the finalizing of the predecessor. I can’t stop myself from working, I adore being in the studio, it makes me feel good. It has been like that for five years in the same place, in Los Angeles, where I work with the same small equipment at the studio of producer Rick Nowels. We spend our life there, as a gang.


So this means you have never known the fear of a blank sheet?


It was a fear which overwhelmed me before I started to record real records. It was very present during the period before my success when I recorded simply for my own pleasure, when I wrote only for myself. I had the certainty that inspiration was gonna slip away and it was like that regularly, sometimes I was incapable of composing for six months.  But for 10 years now, I find inspiration easily – or it finds me. I have learned to be stimulated by it. Especially refusing to be lonely, I meet friends, I observe what is happening without any stress. I use my phone non-stope in the dictation mode, I have recorded countless melodies and words… It’s a bit scary, I must have 700 rough drafts of songs on my phone. I know the experience when a melody pops up in my head, I run towards my phone to record it, even if it is in the middle of the night. A good melody does not knock twice on your door. If you don’t welcome it, it’s gonna show up at another door. For example, during the recordings of Honeymoon, I always heard a melody inside my head which tortured me and which I did not capture. It sounded like the music of the Renaissance… I hummed this melody for months before it ultimately became Terrence Loves You (Sings for a long time)


Teenager, you have the reputation of being a dare-devil. How does this express itself nowadays?


My challenges are not physical, I take different risks. When I was 18, I drove like I was crazy, I was on sprees for days and nights without sleeping. I was more free, more spontaneous, I didn’t care much for the consequences… I have a lot of responsibilities today, towards my relatives, my partners… I am obligated to, for example, be on time. In the past, I had enough work to do with myself, just to maintain a living, before I could find time to occupy mself with others. In 2017, the risks I take is the level of melodies, my musical choices. But I think I have passed the dare-devil part and I am more of a nerd now (laughs)


What do you mean by “musical risks”?


The co-existence of different songs on the same album, like the very complex Lust for Life with the desert-like Yosemite, it is not very reasonable. One tries to put me off, one tells me the contrast is too extrem, but I love the two songs too much to exclude one because of the other one. These are the songs which make me life, and more than that, as well: they have some experience.


Have you become more patient the older you got?


I did. I allow myself much more free-time nowadays. I can go to the studio at any time, I don’t have the pressure of a deadline anymore. Of the blow, I have let myself go a little with the song Lust for Life… I have worked on it on multiple days a week for one and a half year. It has passed every stage, it has started with a futuristic and dark vein like Blade Runner. Also, I have decided to return to a radiant Shangri-La like style… After working for some months, Abel (The Weeknd) joined to add his part. This song became my baby, an unmanageable and maleficent baby which made me crazy. I quickly understood that this album would sound like a trip, a mix.


Working with The Weeknd, did you learn new methods to work in the studio?


I already once learned that I love to play with the buttons, the reverb, I feel more and more comfortable on the other side of the window. I can pass hours with a sound, it captivated me. Also, I spend time with the console in the studio, it doesn’t seem like working; it’s fun, exciting. I even read technical reviews, I’m a true geek (laughs)… Technically, nowadays, I would be capable of producing for other artists. The real question is, however: Even if I can, should I? Often when I jam with my friends, I can hear how the studio version would sound like. Maybe that’s my future. There is a serious lack of female producers in the music industry!


Your last two albums, Ultraviolence and Honeymoon, were made on the West Coast and were influenced by it. How about Lust for Life?


 Four songs on the album reference Los Angeles, but the mood and aesthetic are definitely not West Coast like. I drove myself to remove this blurry, dreamy atmosphere. Songs like Tomorrow Never Came and Yosemite pick up the sounds of 70s folk, and if I would have to create an album concept in a day, it would surround the legendary Laurel Canyon particularly.  


One of the strong songs on the album is called God Bless America. How do you feel about the US nowadays?


 Around me, in the artistic milieu, we all share the same feeling of uncertainty, of fear, and the talk which arises. Women the subject of this song, are the most affected, the most referred to by the arrival of Trump. I have written this song prior to the big marches which seemed inevitable to happen. This rhetorical hate is not dignified for a head of state. The day after the elections was one of the hardest days in my life. I went to the studio nonetheless, to talk to the others. I want to be informed by reading everything, and see if I can get anything at all. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything that convinces me. (?)


You have tweeted magical recipes to get rid of Trump…


It was a joke. I read how witches of the entire world tried to federate at these dates and times to put a spell on Trump, I just relayed. But wha5t is true is that my new videos contain references to magic and occult science. With the more cheerful, less dark side. I know people who converse with what is beyond. My music is in relation to ghosts. But without me.  


Recently, you have re-entered the scene with the festival SXSW. Did you need something after two years in the studio?


I’ve played for an hour, it did me good. I feel more comfortable in a small bar in Texas, like on that day, than in a big stadium. It was the best way to start again after leaving the studio. For the first time in ages, I have played the guitar, to Yayo. It was one of my first songs, composed on the guitar back when I wasn’t Lana Del Rey (she got published, without any success, with the name Lizzy Grant in 2008). It’s a piece loaded with my emotions, it threw me back to this period, sent me back how I fantasized, how I felt. I was 20 years old, it was an amazing time in my life, I’ve discovered new people, love, New York… At the same time, I’ve studied philosophy at university, but in my head, it was always: “I am gonna be a singer”. I religiously followed the counsel of the book “Think And Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, I have burned all the bridges to engulf in music. Yet, doing the studies of philosophy, I didn’t let myself offer many career possibilities (chuckles)… But it allowed me to ask many questions, which I could not find answers to. However, I’ve met people who are on the same wave-length as me. The philosopher Josiah Royce talked about the clusters of spirit, with their fundamental importance for your fulfillment. Those were the music fans who welcomed me, in the cafes of New York.


Who taught you how to play the guitar?


I’ve been obsessed with music, with singing, but I have been very limited in going any further because I couldn’t play any instrument. Before going to university, I’ve taken a gap year and I have gone – by foot -  to my aunt and my uncle Tom at Cold Spring Harbor, a village on Long Island. Tim has showed me seven chords on the guitar. He had a marvelous voice, like James Taylor, but he worked on the Wall Street. Everybody told him he was wasting his talent. Thanks to him and his nylon-guitar course, I’ve finally had a plan for life. He gifted me with freedom… So, following this, I used to go to East-Village or Brooklyn one evening a week to play in the cafes, open-mics, at Sidewalk Café or Lay Lo Lounge… Without really knowing what I was doing, I played one of my songs in public. It was Yayo or a cover of Buckets of Rain by Bob Dylan (she sings loudly)… I’ve had only one reason to go on stage, to say “Listen to me”


Have you been a disciplined student to your uncle?


I have been very studious ant disciplined. However, I didn’t make any real progress ever (laughs)… It was truly frustrating for me. It took me so much effort… But I didn’t have any visible talent.


But you already had your voice


I had one of my voices, the low-pitched one. The higher one, I am still working on. For example, on Yosemite, I sing with a very perched voice, which I haven’t used in years. I was really afraid of leaving this passage in, that my voice was too fragile, that it revealed too much of me… On Honeymoon, I’ve changed the key of four songs because I found them too high and it would’ve forced me to show my vulnerability. Henceforth, depending on how I use my voice, I can take that away or I show it, it offers an enormous liberty. The concert at SXSW, it really was a revelation for me, it allowed me to ask me certain questions. “What kind of genre do I sing? Which family do I belong to? Do I have the right to take some vocal risks onstage?” That was, on that stage in Texas, when I realized that my roots were the pure songwriting, the storytelling. On a smaller scale I have crossed paths with Joan Baez, with her taste for risks. Perhaps for the first time, I didn’t consider what could be expected of me. My songs have too often been a catharsis live…  I couldn’t do more than singing “I, I, I”… It only took me ten years to reach it (laughs).


How do you live the commercial aspect of music?


I absolutely trust in my team, who always protect me which makes me feel comfortable. But regarding my debut, from where I came, I’ve lived the marketing like a sacrilege. But nowadays, I am much more relaxed. For example, even if that smile is ironic, I have never openly smiled like in the video of Love… This smile, it’s a mix of sincere joy and relief… And, well, irony.


Your music is ideal for “cruising” by car. Do you have any memories of long travels with your family and with music which goes along?


My dad used to listen constantly to the Beach Boys in the car, to the point where he always wore a Hawaii-shirt, even in December! When I was very little, my parents moved away from New York to live in the mountains of Adirondacks, six hours north of the city. Twice a year, we made a long trip down to Florida, three days by car. I hated the cold of the Adirondacks, I’ve loved this trip, it’s rooted in me. I loved the heat which grew stronger and stronger while we drove through the two Carolina states (North & South Carolina). I remember how my little sister and I snuggled in the back, I dreamed what we would do together once we arrived in Florida. I can still see the restaurants in service stations, the waitresses and the warmth. Once arrived, during these weeks, I never left the ocean.


You drive there still?


Since I can’t blend in with the crowd, I don’t go to the women’s demonstrations against Trump. But I am the cab driver for my sister, who otherwise doesn’t have one. I drive a Jaguar Sedan, which is completely crazy. A car from the mother of the easy-family, not necessarily sexy (laughs). The next one is probably going to be a Tesla. I had the chance to meet one of the founders of the company, Elon Music. With my sister, he invited us to visit the seat of SpaceX, I’ve already touched one of these rockets…. But to take off into outerspace, I’ll wait until Elon is on board – the final proof that this technology is safe. I am excited for what we still have to discover.


Speaking of creatures coming from another planet, you recently collaborated with Alex Turner and Miles Kane of the Last Shadow Puppets…


 (She bursts into laugher and claps her hands) They are truly hilarious, two madmen. They do not live far away from me, in Los Angeles.  I’ve begun to train two evenings a week in the studio of Miles, in the neighborhood of Los Feliz, to play with no goals with the Last Shadow Puppets. Then we go eat dinner together with their girlfriends in “La Poubelle” What a squad! I can’t count the amount of times I’ve ended up on the ground because I was laughing so hard. They are capable of speaking to one another by singing, with improvised lyrics. For example, one evening, I’ve told Miles about the concert of Joan Baez which I attended. He has never heard about her. Alex made up a song on the spot “Miles doesn’t know who Joan Baez is” (she screams)… Noone is ever safe of their twisted humor. When I first met them, I did have the impression that I met musicians who only live for the music, whose only thoughts are about music. Singing with them is truly invigorating, there is no need to repeat anything, they always find a continuation.


With Miles Kane, can you speak with him about your passion for Liverpool FC?


I think my manager Ben would rip my head off if I wouldn’t! Each match is about life or death for him. He took me to the Anfield Stadium, I was really amused on that day…


You told us a few years ago that you spend “a lot of time in (your) head”. Is that still the case?


I have opened up to others. But most of the time, I still have that inner dialogue with myself. However, I feel less apart, less different than the others nowadays. I have the impression that I have finally connected to the world. It’s comforting. I have analyzed my life since I was a teenager, with enough detachment.


Do you still have your tattoo on your hand which reads “Trust no one”?


(She shows it) I still do, but I am thinking about having it removed. Only because it is very identifying and I aspire to finally melt into the masses. It’s not about the message. Deep inside, I still agree with the message.


Lust for Life out July 21st.



Disclaimer: Translation might not be 100% correct since I am neither a native French nor English speaker.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

also this sort of dispels the myth that she was filthy filthy rich growing up 


for one, lake placid isn't like, a wealthy community, but taking vacations to florida by car is not something rich people do. my family did that kind of stuff and we're straddling middle class 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you @Lona Delery for translating. 


I love the trust no one tattoo but I can understand if she doesn't identify with it anymore. But still.. it's iconic  :toofunny:


All this Yosemite talk makes me think it's gonna send my wig into a different dimension. The vulnerability of her higher range is beautiful. I think it's reminiscent of Sirens. 


Oh, and I'd love to meet Elon Music too.  :smile3:

source.gif source.gif

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the translation! :kiss: you're amazing! X


I hope she doesn't remove that tattoo

"Some days are for falling in love with people, some days for cities, and some for your time in solitude."

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...