With that trademark heart on her cheek and songs that boom with chirpy beats, Marina Diamandis (aka Marina and the Diamonds) appears to have walked out of a Saturday morning cartoon. Except she’s not that innocent.
The persona the Welsh-born Londoner presents with Electra Heart, the follow-up to her debut, The Family Jewels, is a prissy, sinfully sexual diva who aspires to be a “bottle blonde.”
In our interview, Marina and the Diamonds chatted about how the character has more to do with her than you think, being the “only gay in the village” and not talking about the dirty title pun of her first album … until now.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but some of your fans are gay.
(Laughs) About 97 percent of my shows’ audience! It’s so fantastic. Truthfully, I’d say 60 percent gay, 40 percent teen girls. And 2 percent 50-year-old creepy man in the back!
When did your relationship start with the gay audience?
On the first album I definitely did have a gay fan base, but it was much smaller, because I’m a very flamboyant character and the shows are really theatrical. But I don’t really talk about the whole gay community thing, because I don’t want to be a cliché pop star saying like, “I love my gays!” But the truth is it’s a really supportive fan base and they’re making this tour so special.
How about just going the bisexual route?
That’s on the way! (Laughs)
What was the gay scene like where you’re from in Wales?
Are you joking? I lived in a village of 200 people! (Laughs) I didn’t really see any kind of gay scene until I moved to London when I was 19. I was the only gay in the village!
You’ve said that you relate to your gay fans, and obviously they relate back to you. Can you talk about that?
Again, I think it’s part of the camp nature of my first (album), but I think with this album in particular, it lends itself to that more. On a lyrical level, with the first album I wrote a lot about feeling like an outsider and like I wasn’t accepted for who I was, and that upset me very much – so perhaps that’s why. If you’ve dealt with discrimination in your life, you probably really connect to some of those feelings. Also, on this album, a lot of the humor has really caught the gay community’s attention. You’re very humorous.
As far as the whole cartoon persona goes, do you think your gay audience appreciates your flamboyant look and fashion more than your mainstream audience?
No, but gay people pick up on things a little bit quicker and sense stuff that is potentially underground or quite cultish and is going to become bigger before a mainstream audience will. But everyone likes a pretty picture.
What was your reaction to seeing Cazwell and Amanda Lepore do a video for “Primadonna”?
Oh my god, I died! I love Amanda Lepore so much. I was just like, “Is this real?” Because Amanda Lepore really isn’t real, obviously. I actually love Amanda Lepore so much. I listen to her quite a lot. There’s a song called “Cotton Candy” and it’s just fantastic.
Have you seen a drag queen do one of your songs before?
I haven’t … yet.
What tips do you have for Marina drag queens?
You have to have gigantic roots, paint the heart on your face with some eyeliner and then cut a strip of lashes from MAC and put four on each lower lash. Then use a nice bubblegum pink lipstick.
Tell me you named the first album The Family Jewels because of the pun.
That was the sole reason for it. But I was so lily-white skinned that when I began I absolutely couldn’t admit it to the press in case my family heard or my dad heard and thought, “How rude! You can’t be making those dirty puns.” So I never really explained the meaning of it, but I just quite liked that my album title was basically bollocks.
Next: Marina talks first album expectations, Britney spears and more
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