By Chris Hammond
“I want more work!” reveals a laughing Marina Diamandis, “I just love it. I haven’t worked my whole life to get here, to then start complaining about being tired.” Listening to her, you’d be hard pushed not to believe her despite the giggles. This Welsh singer songwriter has known from the beginning just how much effort she’d need to put in to be recognised for her music. And with her career well on track, she still understands that there’s work to be done.
So with this in mind, it can in no way be a bad thing that Marina is as enthusiastic an artist as you are ever likely to come across. About to face a daunting schedule of North American tour dates, she is less interested in the bright lights and big cities, than she is in building up her core fan base (known as the Diamonds) with more intimate gigs. “Believe it or not my American fans are even crazier; they all seem to know every single word and are always really responsive. I’ve probably done about eight shows over there, but I’m very much starting from scratch, playing 500 capacity venues. But you need to do the groundwork; you can’t get away with not doing it. It’s a new experience and I’m so enthralled and fascinated by the country. It’s going to be good to see more of it. I want to go to the old towns, that’s where I want to go.” On tour Marina will be performing songs from her hit album ‘The Family Jewels’, but she’s also already looking toward her second release. “I’m on it already. Yeah I’ve never stopped writing. If I did it would scare the shit out of me”, she says.
Although this second effort is some way off, perhaps one of the biggest reasons behind the interest in Marina’s debut is that, despite trying, the music press haven’t generally been able to pigeon hole her music. Each track of ‘The Family Jewels’ is unlike the one before or after it. Much of this is down to Marina’s constant writing and magpie like ability to borrow the best aspects of her numerous influences. But it also has a lot to do with the way she makes her music. “I’m not from a background where I studied a lot of music or knew a lot about it, so there were never any rules for me. With my own stuff like ‘I Am Not a Robot’ I kind of picture the song as a world, so when I go into the studio I want to create a surrounding and environment so that people can envision that world and not feel like it’s a 2D experience. A lot of songs don’t put many strong images into your head. I think if you’re a respectable and daring musician you should love the challenge and you should be experimenting.”
Marina is pretty resolute in her determination to make music which works for both her and her fans, this is perhaps why she seems a little bit suspicious of things like artist collaborations. Despite being a great way for a fledgling musician to boost their profile it doesn’t look like Marina is too keen to use this in-vogue option. “No. Purely on the basis of A) it’s the thing to do and B) half of collaborations happen because some A&R in a back room ask their artist to. C) I take such pride in my work and writing I don’t feel I could work with someone I didn’t have any chemistry with. I dunno; it just depends. Maybe one day I will but it’ll have to be the right person.”
Whether intentional or not, one thing other than her music which has boosted her profile is her sense of style. Regularly featuring in Britain’s most respected fashion magazines; Marina’s quirky outfits are almost as talked about as her music. “Well I love clothes because I’m such a visual person, but I love clothes as much as I love videos or paintings. I’m not totally enamoured with the perception we have of the fashion industry, I wouldn’t like to be a role-model for a trend or anything like that. I want people to feel they can be accepted for whatever they are and that’s like my music. I dunno it’s a tough one. I do like clothes but that’s about it. I don’t wake up in the morning and spend any time choosing what to wear, it’s normally instant. One day I’ll really feel like wearing green jogging bottoms and the next day I’ll think they’re horrific.”
Despite protests that her style isn’t important to her, Marina’s done a massive amount to help raise the profile of some of Britain’s best upcoming designers. “I love supporting new designers especially student designers. I love wearing their clothes, usually because there’s a lot of colour. One of my favourites is Hasan Hejazi , he makes sort of evening wear. I have a lot of trouble shopping because I’ve got a little waist and a not little chest, so I sometimes have to go to weird places to get my clothes and he does these dresses and corsets which fit exactly!” Fresh faced, stylish and with one chart friendly album already under her belt, you wouldn’t bet against the second half of this year being as successful as the first for Marina. And if it is, it’ll be in no small part down to her hard-work and the license she’s had to make the music both she and her Diamonds want to hear.
You can read Marina’s personal blog on www. marinaandthediamonds.com.